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Many will recognize Blindspot from its pilot episode’s signature image in the most memorable scene of the 2015 Fall television season. A nude woman, completely covered in tattoos, steps out of a bag in the middle of Times Square. It was a unique and shocking beginning for any show, much less a network show. NBC exploited that moment for everything they could in marketing and press, giving Blindspot a huge amount of awareness for its debut. Virtually everyone knew about Blindspot before it had aired a single episode.
Blindspot is a non-stop action thriller shrouded in mystery and conspiracy. Each week is filled with secret clues that a team of FBI agents use to help solve a specific case. The show proves high-octane thrills are still viable on network television during this impressive premiere season. While it is derivative of closely related shows like The Blacklist, the action is intense and its serialized storytelling is oddly compelling. This is popcorn fare made for television with glossy visuals and slick direction.
Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back) and Jaimie Alexander (Thor) are Blindspot’s primary stars. After her break-out role as Lady Sif in the Thor movies from Marvel, many insiders had pegged Jaimie Alexander as a future star. Fans had clamored for her to be cast as Wonder Woman in Warner’s upcoming solo film for the superhero, which eventually went to Gal Gadot. Warner’s loss is Blindspot’s gain. Jaime owes much of her rising stardom to a convincing physicality for a female lead, especially performing action material. That makes her a perfect fit for Jane Doe, Blindspot’s mysterious central character. The entire premise of Jane Doe is that she’s a former special ops agent, trained in hand-to-hand combat with deadly skills. Jaime Alexander takes to the role like a duck to water.
Sullivan Stapleton stars as hardened FBI agent Kurt Weller. His FBI team is drawn into a complex conspiracy when a mysterious woman is found in Times Square covered in a series of cryptic tattoos all over her body, including his name in big letters on her back. The woman has no memory of how she get there or who she is. She’s nearly a blank slate. The FBI dubs her ‘Jane Doe’ as an identity until they can discover her origins. The only thing she remembers at first are fractured memories of her childhood, which may or may not reveal a strong link to Kurt Weller himself.
Season one starts out with a bang and never lets up…
Season one starts out with a bang and never lets up…
Weller’s team of FBI agents include wartime vet Edgar Reade, the flirtatious Tasha Zapata and Assistant Director Bethany Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Special mention goes to Patterson (Ashley Johnson), the team’s resident scientist and lab tech. It’s a nicely eclectic cast with smart selections for each role. They are all drawn into a high-stakes underworld of criminals and nefarious government agents as they decipher the clues found on Jane Doe’s body. At the center of this mystery is the relationship between Weller and Jane Doe. With every passing case they investigate, Jane unveils a new skill or a hidden talent. Weller is drawn deeper into his complicated relationship with this enigmatic woman.
This first season chews through an immense amount of plot. The days of network series developing story-lines over several seasons are gone and I say good riddance. Season one runs 23 episodes, which is far more than usual for a show these days. Many people have gotten used to the shorter 10-12 episode seasons of cable television. Season one starts out with a bang and never lets up, throwing twists and turns at the viewer almost on a weekly basis as we learn more of Jane Doe’s background. If you are familiar with the tight pacing and rhythm of NBC’s The Blacklist, Blindspot should feel comfortably similar. It’s apparent that NBC used that show as a starting point when devising Blindspot’s weekly formula.
Blindspot is a heady mix of serialized storytelling and case-of-the-week procedural, bolstered by interesting characters. It also makes sure to include several memorable villains, including the incomparably named Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer). The action thriller quickly became a hit with audiences and it’s not hard to understand why. It does fall into the trap of indulging just about every heroic cliché possible. That is hopefully tightened up in its upcoming second season. While Blindspot doesn’t have the depth of the best cable shows, this is enjoyable entertainment that overcomes its formulaic format and outlandish premise with rousing action and fun characters.
The video technicians at WB must be wizards. Blindspot is one of their strongest-looking TV sets in years. Despite cramming 23 episodes onto four BD-50s, the AVC video encode is nearly flawless. Averaging in the teens, the encode captures every nuance and detail possible in the Arri Alexa-shot production.
Blindspot is a glossy network show with strong production values. Shown at 1.78:1, the 1080P video is immaculately crisp with strong definition. Having caught some of Blindspot in HD on NBC’s broadcast version, this Blu-ray’s picture quality is a significant upgrade.
The mostly pristine presentation becomes slightly grittier in selected interiors, mostly in Jane Doe’s numerous flashbacks. The inky black levels and excellent contrast are shown off in the FBI’s brightly lit headquarters and most exteriors as the team travels the globe. Close-ups have extreme definition, including razor-sharp detail. This is completely unfiltered video taken directly from the finished digital intermediate.
This booming 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack works well for the aggressive action thriller. Blindspot’s score from Blake Neely is always working to pump up the drama and create an air of excitement. This is an action score on steroids.
The surround mix showcases perfectly recorded dialogue placed in listenable balance with huge dynamics of the show’s bigger action moments. Expect a fairly traditional surround experience for heavier action fare with gunshots, bullets and explosions all around the soundfield.
WB provides optional English SDH and seven other subtitled languages in a white font.
The four-disc set comes in a slipcase. Included inside is a detailed episode guide. WB includes a UV digital copy for the entire first season redeemable in HDX. Hardcore fans should be aware that Target offers an exclusive lenticular cover.
WB is possibly the last major studio providing extensive special features for their television releases. Blindspot receives several interesting featurettes with major participation from creator Martin Gero and a variety of cast members. Extensive deleted scenes are included but they must be viewed outside the context of their episodes. The featurettes are quality special features, if on the short side.
Unaired/Deleted Scenes are included for episodes #1, 2, 6-10, 12, 14, 17, 21. Creator Martin Gero explains why each set of scenes were not included on the final broadcast.
Pilot Commentary – Creator Martin Gero and pilot director Mark Pellingham discuss how the show and pilot were conceived. It’s more a quick glimpse inside the process than a deeply revealing discussion.
Casting the Team (09:54 in HD)
Oscar: The Handler (05:15 in HD)
Weller Takes Action (03:23 in HD)
Double Vision (03:39 in HD)
Rich Dotcom (04:43 in HD)
Make It Go Boom! (04:55 in HD)
Tattooed Clues (07:08 in HD)
Bound and Gag Reel (04:26 in HD)
2015 Comic-Con Panel (15:27 in HD) – Jaimie Alexander and producers Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schecter and Martin Gero appear in this discussion at the famed convention which took place before the season first aired.
Possibly the best new show of the 2015 Fall season, Blindspot is an indulgent action thriller in this entertaining first season.
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