Hit Or Sh**: NBC’s BLINDSPOT
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Hoo boy. It’s been about a week since I’ve sat through a television show that uses a woman’s body as a plot device. Alas, it comes with the turf of avid TV watching. But I have to say I was intrigued when I discovered a show where a woman’s body is the entire premise. BLINDSPOT is the story of Jane Doe, a woman who wakes up naked in a duffel bag in Times Square with no name and no memories, but plenty of regrettable tattoos. Talk about a bad bender.
Vanity Fair needs to up the controversy since the Caitlyn Jenner cover
Once picked up by the FBI, Jane’s MEMENTO-ripoff ink serves as the introduction to our Generic White Male Protagonist ™, FBI agent Kurt Weller, whose name she has tattooed on her back. Generic White Male then ogles at her naked body for about twenty minutes of the episode before figuring out that her tattoos are a “treasure map” of terrorist conspiracies. One in particular, a random Chinatown address and date, uncovers a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty. Because it ain’t American network TV without a terrorist plot.
Fox was dismayed when focus groups found an Ahmed Mohamed series in bad taste
BLINDSPOT is lacking in almost every department. The most egregious error, however, is character. Kurt Weller is easily one of the flattest protagonists I’ve ever seen. You could put a block of actual wood in his place and it would probably be more entertaining to watch. It takes serious effort to make the Brooding White Dude trope even more uninteresting, but somehow this show pulls it off. Calling it now, episode two will reveal the tragic backstory of Weller’s dead girlfriend/wife (which somehow is his fault) and he’ll have to atone by helping Jane. Or making out with Jane. Or both.
His eyes glisten with the ghosts of girlfriends past
Make no mistake though, Jane Doe is no better. Aside from her gratuitous nudity tattoos and her repeated insistence to tag along on field missions (a scenario which plays out three times), she has no defining character traits. Mary Sue—I mean Jane Doe’s—primary function in the story is to be whatever the plot needs her to be. Need a martial artist? Guess what, she’s a black belt! Need a translator for a dead Chinese dialect? Move over, Babelfish, Jane Doe’s got your back. While some of her “blank slate” syndrome can be attributed to her memory loss, the rest boils down to just plain old bad writing. Which brings us to our next category…
She looks like she belongs on an Ed Hardy shirt
Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much cable, but I’d forgotten just how bad network writing could get. Instead of coming up with intriguing storylines or characters that can’t be boiled down to focus-group fodder, BLINDSPOT decided to spend all of its creative capital on its opening scene. Indeed, a completely tattooed woman emerging from a duffel bag in an empty Times Square is an arresting image, but it’s all downhill from there. Pointless flashbacks, repeated story beats, and a set of cardboard supporting cast members made each scene duller than the next. And of course, the episode ends with an all-too predictable twist involving the FBI somehow being involved with Jane Doe’s emergence. It’d be generous to call that a spoiler, so I’m not going to.
What white nonsense is this?
All in all, BLINDSPOT is pretty much a wash. If you’re looking for a modern thriller that involves scenes in an empty Times Square, I’d highly recommend the infinitely superior MR. ROBOT. If you’re just looking for a good old-fashioned terrorism procedural, go ahead and re-watch 24. May the light of Jack Bauer grace your presence once again.
BLINDSPOT airs on NBC on Mondays