Alibi V.24 No.40 • Oct 1-7, 2015 

Idiot Box

Crime, Ink

“Blindspot” on NBC

“Blindspot” has arrived on NBC with the most intriguing high-concept idea of the fall season and what appears to be the largest number of on-air promos of any new show. Clearly, somebody’s excited about this thing. But this much-touted action series might not be as innovative as the hype would indicate.

The series starts with a hell of an intriguing sequence. A mysterious duffle bag has been dropped in the middle of Times Square. Fearing explosives, NYPD brings in the bomb squad—only to find a naked female covered in tattoos emerging from the bag. This is our main character, dubbed Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander, best know as Sif in Marvel’s Thor movies). She gets the name because she can’t remember a single thing about herself. Her memory has been wiped by an experimental drug. But clues to her identity appear to be tattooed all over her body. Chief among those tattoos is a large back design that reads: “Kurt Weller FBI.” Naturally, somebody places a call to Agent Weller (lantern-jawed Sullivan Stapleton who played Themistocles in 300: Rise of an Empire). Unfortunately, he has no idea who this woman is.

The key to unraveling this mystery lies, of course, in decoding doe-eyed Jane’s skin ink. The first clue comes in the pilot episode when Jane—conveniently—translates a Chinese tattoo containing that day’s date and a location. Turns out the address belongs to some Chinese student who’s about to blow up the Statue of Liberty. (Our super clue-solving team deciphers that one from the bomber’s cryptic mention of “The Mother of Immigrants.”) Weller and Jane race to stop the bombing. Fortunately, Jane appears to be some sort of highly trained Navy SEAL with super combat skills in addition to her formidable language talents. (“No female has ever graduated SEAL training,” one Doubting Thomas points out. “Would they tell you if one did?” spouts someone else with impeccable logic. ... Yes, they would, guys.) Anyway, the day is saved and mismatched buddy cops Weller and Jane live to crime-solve another day.

“Blindspot” is full to bursting of breathless action and deadly serious to a fault. Everybody is so busy running around and yelling at one another at high volume there’s no time to even crack a smile. Alexander has deserved a big break for a while now. She and her stunt double acquit themselves admirably. Stapleton, on the other hand, just looks mad to be here. Seriously. A major easing of tensions would help these characters grow on us.

The biggest problem for “Blindspot,” though, is it’s TV’s newest “magical crimesolver” show. Writers, no longer cognizant of how crimes get committed or solved, have turned to convenient, near-supernatural solutions. Shows use psychics, fake psychics, brain-eating zombies, supercomputers and even Sherlock Holmes himself to crack impossible crimes. Heck, TV went so far as to transform the sci-fi film Limitless (about intelligence-enhancing drugs) into a generic detective show. All Weller and Jane have to do each week is look at one of her tattoos. A couple leaps of logic later, and it’s case closed. Sure, there are hints of a larger conspiracy. But that’s just a red herring allowing the show to pump out crime-of-the-week fiction. And TV’s got plenty of that already.

“Blindspot” airs Mondays at 9pm on KOB-4.