Arts & Culture

NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ gets a true prime-time spot Feb. 1

Megan Boone stars as FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen on NBC’s The Blacklist.THE BLACKLIST -- "The Decembrist" Episode 208 -- Pictured: Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen -- (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)
Megan Boone stars as FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen on NBC’s The Blacklist.THE BLACKLIST -- "The Decembrist" Episode 208 -- Pictured: Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen -- (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC) NBC

The Blacklist has earned a presidential seal of approval.

Megan Boone, the leading lady of NBC’s popular popcorn thriller, which gets a showcase time slot Sunday after the Super Bowl, excitedly shares the news:

It seems that Bill Clinton is a bona fide Blackhead.

“Harry Lennix [another Blacklist cast member] ran into Bill Clinton on Late Night With Seth Meyers,” Boone says. “Bill took the time to say that he watches the show, doesn’t miss an episode, and he said great things about the writing.

“And he said specifically, ‘That girl, I love what she’s doing on the show.’ Pretty cool, huh?”

The feedback made Boone’s day. It also made what had been an uncomfortable week of shooting outside in snow seem almost worth losing sensation in her toes.

But you can bet she’ll be even happier if the special post-Super Bowl episode, scheduled to start at 9:15 p.m., creates millions of additional viewers.

After all, one fan, no matter how famous, no matter how well connected, does not have the power to turn a series into a hit all by himself.

Actually, on second thought, there might be one person with enough pull to make it happen.

Raymond “Red” Reddington, the puppet master of The Blacklist, the guy who has dirt on everybody, be they criminals, politicians, spies or terrorists, could pull a few well-chosen strings if he were determined to keep his favorite program up and running.

How did The Blacklist manage to snag the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot again?

The show, which stars James Spader as Reddington and Boone as FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, was NBC’s breakout hit of 2013-14, averaging nearly 15 million viewers and finishing No. 6 in the Nielsen ratings.

If the game is close and the promos enticing enough, The Blacklist could double its audience on this special night.

The Super Bowl episode, in which Red will be spirited away to a secret detention facility, is the first of a two-parter, with the follow-up airing in the show’s new 8 p.m. Thursday time slot.

Series creator/executive producer Jon Bokenkamp promises “a very easy access point” for new viewers. “Somebody who’s never seen the show will be able to drop in very quickly and get a real sense of how it feels, smells, tastes,” he says.

That said, loyal viewers who enjoy complex mythology will get answers to their questions soon enough.

“While the serialized elements are definitely something we’re exploring in the back half of the season, we don’t dive right into it in the Super Bowl episode,” Bokenkamp says. “I like to think of the Super Bowl two-parter as a large-in-scope summer action movie.”

Spader’s bigger-than-life performance has made Red quite the scene-stealer on The Blacklist, but Boone’s presence as Liz Keen is equally important. She does just as much of the heavy lifting.

“Megan is in damn near every scene,” Bokenkamp points out.

“I feel like I have more experience than most of the actors in the world now that I’ve done this show,” Boone says. “If I could count up all the hours I’ve acted over the last two years, it’s probably more than what 99 percent of working actors have in a lifetime.

“I act more hours a day now than I used to be awake during the day.”

Not that Boone is complaining.

“We’ve been extraordinarily successful beyond my wildest dreams,” she says. “The fact that we’re getting this opportunity to showcase the show to a larger audience now is really exciting.”

The Blacklist

▪ 9:15 p.m. Sunday

▪ KXAS/Channel 5

Super Bowl viewing alternatives

If you have no interest in who wins the big game, seeing the halftime show or even watching the water cooler-caliber commercials, here are alternative Sunday viewing options:

▪ Puppy Bowl XI (2 p.m., Animal Planet): Two-hour showcase of adorable dogs on a miniature playing field, with a halftime show by “Katty Furry.”

▪ Kitten Bowl II (11 a.m., Hallmark Channel): Three hours of frolicking felines.

▪ Fish Bowl II (5 p.m., Nat Geo Wild): Two hours of goldfish footage.

▪ Toddler Bowl (11 a.m., TLC): Babies go diaper-to-diaper in athletic and brain-testing challenges.

▪ How I Met Your Mother (11 a.m., WGN): Ten hours billed as the “1st Annual We Know It’s the Day of the Big Game But Please Watch Us Anyway How I Met Your Mother Barney Bowl Marathon.”

▪ The Walking Dead (9 a.m., AMC): 20-hour zombie-thon.

▪ Real Housewives of Atlanta (10 a.m., Bravo): 14 hours of catfights.

▪ Swamp People (6 a.m., History): 21 hours in the bayou.

▪ B Movie Festival (8 a.m., Syfy): 14 hours of movie showdowns so bad, they’re good, opening with Chupacabra vs. the Alamo and closing with Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (at 8 p.m.).

— David Martindale

Post-Super Bowl

hits and misses

Hits

Here are five memorable post-Super Bowl offerings:

1. Friends (1996): Guest-starring Julia Roberts as “Susie Underpants.”

2. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993): Pilot episode for a cop show classic.

3. The Wonder Years (1988): Re-experiencing the ’60s, through the eyes of Kevin Arnold.

4. 3rd Rock From the Sun (1998): Dick Solomon warns us of an invasion of Venusian supermodels.

5. Alias (2003): Secret agent Sydney Bristow goes from modeling lingerie to a daredevil escape from a disabled jet.

Misses

It’s hard even to remember these postgame pilots:

1. The Last Precinct (1986): Cop-show comedy starring Adam “Batman” West.

2. Grand Slam (1990): John Schneider and Paul Rodriguez star as buddy bounty hunters.

3. MacGruder and Loud (1985): About police patrol-car partners who are secretly married.

4. Extreme (1995): A Rocky Mountain rescue team headed up by James Brolin.

5. Brothers and Sisters (1979): Frat-house comedy. Seriously, these were TV shows!

— David Martindale

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