It's Super Bizarre To Finish Live TV Episodes With Animation
NBC's The Blacklist is a perfect James Spader vehicle, in that it was super exciting and shiny and new when it came on the scene, but is now pretty much mostly enjoyed exclusively by dads. The Season 7 finale aired on Friday, and like many shows, its production was interrupted by the coronavirus.
Unlike many shows, however, it decided to address this head-on by breaking the fourth wall mere minutes into the episode. The episode pauses on Agent Elizabeth Keen talking to her grandfather, saying she loves him, and then members of the cast are shown explaining the situation via webcam recording. They tell us how much of the rest of the episode will be animated because they still wanted to give us something.
They try to make it as seamless as possible, but even some of the reality-to-animation transitions done over B-roll are a little jarring. Once they get into their groove, though? It's ... kinda dope.
According to the showrunners, the animation takes cues from Batman, old-timey radio theater, and Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly. It's an animation style that's a little reminiscent of cel-shaded video games, like the Telltale stuff or Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.
All that said, we're not entirely sure this was some kind of seismic shift for the show, and we hope it isn't something TV execs around the business are looking at with hungry eyes. The producers don't seem like they're itching to do this again. The animation itself was super rushed and done by a company not known for animation, but pre-viz stuff. It's also hard to imagine the core audience of this show (remember: dads) wanting much more of the animation stuff. It'd be one thing if this was the middle of Season 13 of, say, Supernatural and they were trying out something fun to mix things up ...
... but this was part of a forced reality where they did the best they could. If this is the kind of ingenuity that it takes to make TV not suck this fall, we can probably live with it.
Top Image: The Blacklist/NBC