Skip to main content

Thanks for the hate mail while I was away. Apparently, the mockery of the urban bourgeoisie is a line that cannot be crossed if mothers are involved.

No apology for that – the trivialization of food, diet and exercise is a foolishness that deserves to be mocked. Moms included. As your own mom would probably tell you, there are people starving in the world, you know.

Trying to catch up after being away and off the grid is weird. But some things never change. In Canada, it's only sports that matter. Far as I can tell, the only thing people are talking about is fellas pulling other fellas' beards in the hockey, kerfuffles and affray between fellas in the baseball and the Raptors trashing those no-goodnik fellas in Miami. All fellas involved, as usual.

But I digress. About television – lets talk about The Blacklist (NBC, Global, 10 p.m.), which reaches its season finale tonight.

While I was away, the various U.S. networks and channels had their upfronts. That means they made announcements and showed trailers to advertisers. It's a brilliant, happy time of the year in the TV racket. Everything is peachy. All the new and returning shows are outta-sight brilliant.

Some are, actually. The Blacklist is a terrific, inventive, entertaining and eccentric show by network standards. Indeed, by any standards. From the get-go, James Spader's hammy, overripe performance as Raymond (Red) Reddington, a bombastic villain turned informant, has been its excellent anchor. He's so arch and sometimes insufferable, you can't take your eyes off him. Network drama isn't dead as long as something like The Blacklist can be created and thrive.

The still-unresolved back story had Red anxious to work with and protect young FBI officer Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), who might be his daughter. Now, as this season ends, Elizabeth is apparently dead and Red has gone bonkers.

In one astonishing episode a few weeks ago, called Cape May, Red experienced what seemed to be an opium dream of lamentation. At an eerily bleak beach hotel in mid-winter, he encountered a woman, long dead, who might be Elizabeth's mother, or might not. The entire episode was a striking example of a network show with the confidence to expand limits and brood on the characters. As always with The Blacklist too, the music was phenomenally good and appropriate.

From the beginning, I thought there was a fiercely theatrical quality to the series, something that only works while using an actor with Spader's flamboyant tone. The entire series, rich in broad passions, tragedy and pathos, is one long revenge drama, Jacobean in style. The Blacklist does not have the chops of great premium-cable drama, but it has literary chops and an exuberance that is very entertaining.

Thus, I was at first dismayed to learn that NBC is going ahead with a Blacklist spinoff, to be called (for now) The Blacklist: Redemption. It will star Famke Janssen as Susan (Scottie) Hargrave, a character introduced recently. The network's official synopsis is this: "The Blacklist: Redemption centres around the brilliant and cunning Susan Hargrave who serves as the chief of a covert mercenary organization called Grey Matters. After joining forces with undercover operative Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), Tom discovers that Scottie is actually his biological mother and goes on a secret mission to learn more about his past."

Right. Well, it will probably go sideways, but the plot outline is fascinating – it reeks of ancient revenge plays. Good.

Airing Thursday

Thirteen (BBC Canada, 9 p.m.) is a new drama from the BBC Three channel, one originally mandated to be more experimental and youth-oriented. From what I've seen, which is limited, Thirteen is both familiar and shockingly, but subtly, sinister. It's familiar in that it's about child abduction. After 13 years held captive by her kidnapper, Ivy Moxam (Jodie Comer) escapes. She's now 26 years old. Everything about her life must be pieced back together, but everything she knew is now false – her parents are separated, her teenage boyfriend is now married. Her sister is deeply suspicious of her. And then there's the most sinister question of all – what exactly was Ivy's relationship with her captor? It's got a serious case of the creeps, this drama.