“Blindspot” shouldn’t be confused with “The Blacklist.” For starters, one has James Spader, and each show has six mostly different letters between the “BL” and the “T.” Other than that, this polished NBC drama, like its predecessor, L, with an inherent mystery surrounding its central figure, who happens to have, as Liam Neeson might say, a very particular set of skills. Just how useful those will be in winning the battle for TV survival remains to be seen, but for a show that prominently features tattoos, “Blindspot” doesn’t leave much of an impression.
The opening sequence is certainly arresting, and the show might coast on that for a while. A mysterious oversized bag is left in Times Square (yes, they actually emptied the place to shoot the scene), only to have a naked woman step out of that big satchel.
OK, not completely naked, in the sense that her skin is covered with tattoos, each offering clues that might be helpful later. And they do come in handy, inasmuch as the woman (Jaimie Alexander, who played Lady Sif in “Thor”) is suffering from a “chemically induced state of permanent amnesia,” which makes this all a bit like “Memento,” if Christopher Nolan produced it with only a modicum of wit or ambition.
Jane Doe, as she’s known, becomes the charge of an FBI agent, Kurt Weller (“Strike Back’s” Sullivan Stapleton), whose name is among the scribbles conveniently (and in terms of content standards, discretely) placed all over her body. Yet while the premiere is very fast-paced and action-packed — created by Martin Gero, working in conjunction with prolific showrunner Greg Berlanti, taking a sort-of break from superheroes — one can see pretty quickly where all this is heading.
Like “The Blacklist,” there will be cases to pursue based on those tattoos. And the backstory regarding Jane will dribble out, gradually, creating a small serialized component for those who might begin to think just seeing the two leads chase down bad guys isn’t enough.
NBC is giving the series its most hospitable timeslot — following “The Voice” on Monday nights — although as “State of Affairs” demonstrated, that’s hardly a guarantee of success. What does seem clear is that the network needs to gain some traction with another drama to pay off its move of “Blacklist” to Thursdays, where it’s ratings remain more than respectable, but have declined.
“Blindspot” might grow into a show that can accomplish that, and the leads are certainly attractive. Still, based on how generic and derivative the pilot feels, such a happy outcome certainly isn’t in the bag.