Preview: Blindspot 1×1 (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)

It thinks it's special. It's not


In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC. Starts September 21st
in the UK: Acquired by Sky Living

It’s often said that there are no such things as original ideas any more. All that can be done is to take a whole bunch of existing ideas and come up with a novel combination of them.

However, some shows are just so derivative, you can’t imagine for a second that they’re actually trying to do something new, rather than simply showing you something so familiar and comfortable, you’ll just watch them out of habit, assuming that you’ve missed an episode or something and the cast all have new haircuts.

And so we have Blindspot, a show so familiar you’re probably picking out chinaware together.

On the face of it, this shouldn’t be the case. It has a whole bunch of qualities that it probably thinks are unique. Except they’re not. Perhaps Blindspot’s blindspot is its massive derivativeness.

After all, how many shows do you know that see people with full body tattoos that give mysterious clues to plot revelations? Apart from Prison Break, of course.

And how many shows do you know where a mysterious stranger wakes up with no memory of who they are or what their name is, but who wants to find out – and they have a very special set of skills that will help them with that? Apart from John Doe, of course.

And how many shows do you know where it’s Jaimie Alexander (Sif from Thor, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) who’s the mysterious stranger waking up naked? Apart from (seasons 2-3) of Kyle XY, of course?

And how many NBC shows can you name where every week the heroes chase after some mysterious, diabolical criminal with just a few clues handed down ex nihilo to them by some even more mysterious man? Apart from The Blacklist, of course.

In fact, each seemingly unique aspect of Blindspot you’ll have seen already somewhere else, probably done better, and Blindspot adds nothing to them. Alexander’s fine now she doesn’t have to do a cod English accent and she gets to kick ass, speak Chinese and do all kinds of things implausible for someone who has amnesia but that look cool.

Sullivan Stapleton plays her FBI handler, recruited to look after this amazing new asset because she has his name tattooed on her back. He’s a lot of fun as the kick ass dick Damien Scott in Strike Back.

He would be fine in this, too, if he actually had a character rather than a plot function. Unfortunately, all he has to do is growl, pull faces and wave guns, since it’s pretty hard to have chemistry with someone who has no memories.

But that’s basically it. You already know how it’s going to play out. Each week, they’ll find a new tattoo that’s a clue to a crime they have to stop. Alexander will kick some ass and maybe reveal a new talent. Stapleton will probably shoot someone or do something that will enable Alexander to look good. And there’ll be a gradual drip, drip, drip of clues as to who Alexander really is that will make ultimately make even less sense than the idea that someone would wipe Alexander’s memories then tattoo her with clues to future crimes, rather than simply tell the FBI all he knows.

I like both Alexander and Stapleton, but unfortunately this is just generic NBC action at its very dullest. The action’s generic, the story’s generic, the ensemble set up is generic. Get your DVDs out and you’ll almost certainly find something better.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.