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IR TV Review: THE BLACKLIST – EPISODE 19 (“The Kazanjian Brothers”) [NBC-S7]

The repression of “The Blacklist” timeline as with many shows during the pandemic can be tricky. Some like the Chicago shows had enough to structure how to play it out and then just left certain narratives in play for next season. “The Blacklist” maybe at times more than most is so dense on double crosses and plot lines that it can be hard to shift easily that way. The crew in NY was halfway through shooting this episode “The Kazanjian Brothers” when the shutdown hit. Whereas it is not the ideal progression, the production angled in a way to make the episode able to be finished. Although the animation is a bit crude, it was integrated on a timeline so the ability to make it work is undeniably admirable without losing too much of the style of what “The Blacklist” is. One would think that much of the dialogue had to be captured in home correctly which again is tricky. What the thought process falls to, which is an interesting construct, is that possibly the production already uses animatics in a much more base format to plan out an episode, much like people used to do with storyboards.

The trick is making it more cinematic. In some points it works and in others it is a little more crude but it is overall effective. The subtleties of acting sometimes cannot be nuanced in this kind of animation which is less than photo real. However stage direction and internal dialogue here is used sparingly but importantly. Even the use of shadows and especially two beats of music in this season finale episode (now) really gives it a style all its own. The reality is that half of the episode was shot already but, as with most series, the episode is shot out of order depending on location. It is interesting to see what coverage was done and what was not. Surprisingly enough, some of the more dynamic scenes had to be done in animation which added to its graphic novel style. This probably wet to the point of bigger set pieces needing more live action set up. Again, once it is all said and done, it will be lore in “The Blacklist” canon but changes the game up a little while understanding that the audience will roll with the times as long as the creatives are using the possibilities to their advantage especially on a shortened timeline.

A-

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: DISNEY GALLERY – THE MANDALORIAN – EPISODE 3 (“Cast”) [Disney+]

Moving forward in the Disney Gallery with “The Mandalorian” comes down to casting in Episode 3. The key with telling the story is not trying to cover up what might be perceived. With Episode 3, the round table structure again helps with the process because, one is aware fo hat is being seen, especially with actors. The aspect of Pedro Pascal is of course him actually being in the costume. It of course is broken down in terms of stunt fighting whether it be action or gun play which is actually two different stuntmen. That is very much seen and laid very honestly forward. But Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau tell an interesting story later in the episode about an effects camera test before they even started shooting with just extras in costumes on set before Pascal slipped on The Mandalorian’s uniform. Pascal relates though that he was there Favreau and Filoni admit that even behind the mask and costumes need to be a sense of acting which can be even harder.

The directors Deborah Chow & Rick Fujikawa relates this as well. It is key. Filoni actually relates that the test was the first time they were using the new cameras and he actually calls Favreau “coach” saying “it would be so much easier if I could draw it”. It is a very telling moment. Pascal understands the intent of the character but he never gets really deep into what Mando is really since it might give away too much of what the man is, which is smart. Gina Carano gives a little but of a glimpse into her character interrelating about her origins being from Alderaan which is an interesting detail and makes one think of that character as a little different with something to prove, especially in looks and how she goes forward. Carano pays specific penitence to Carl Weather talking about how he taught her. Weathers seems like a tough love but it has because he has worked with the pantheons of action in the 80s.

When he is talking about acting to a mask, it is specifically interesting that nobody brings up Predator because his death scene in that is so particular and that was against a man in a mask as well. Also the essence of Man With No Name that Jon Favreau talks of Lucas originally envisioning of the Mandalorian plays in part to¬† reflection of the team Schwarzenegger as Dutch integrated in “Predator”. Weathers is old school and he originally was supposed to be prosthetics and was only going to be in Episodes 1 and 3 as a favor. Obviously he saw enough in this angle to work because apparently he doesn’t act as much (or need to anymore). He was in an NBC show that lasted briefly called “Chicago Justice” which I did an interview for so it is interesting to see how he connects. But ultimately it is about building the world which of course some of the casting being spoken about recently for Season 2 points to very specifically.

B+

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: HARLEY QUINN – EPISODE 7 (“There’s No Place To Go But Down”) [Warner Brothers Animation-S2]

As the season progresses, “Harley Quinn” is coming to terms with its identity in a way but has also spreads out the narrative in a more broad way than would have been expected, using humor to its advantage but not necessarily making narrative sense. The series seems to operate in vignettes while also engaging on ongoing story lines like Batgirl (aka Barbara Gordon). This episode “There’s No Place To Go But Down” seems to have triple meaning like most of the titles. The progression of this one is that Harley is brought to court for the murder of Penguin but as it is new Gotham it is a Kangaroo court with Two Face as prosecution and Bane is the judge. The court appointed attorney is a mutant Bat which is sort of funny since no one can understand what he is saying and he seems aloof with a drinking problem. Of course Harley is sent to jail but Ivy tries to take the fall for her which is sweet.

What progresses is that instead of Arkham, Bane transports them to a new place he calls The Pit which is a prison of sorts where the inmates, all murderous types try to find themselves through painting and the arts. Bane is a delight here since he is always made to be the butt of all the crime lords jokes. All he wants is a little order, some laughs and the bed made. It is only when he kicks in his serum that he becomes dangerous. Harley just wants to escape so Ivy can finally get married to her boyfriend Kite Man. The ending progression is interesting for Ivy because it is existential and identity prone but then the last shot changes everything in a quick shot. It creates a neat but undeniable story shift which could have interesting ramifications.

B-

By Tim Wassberg

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