At the first Radio Times Festival, Robson Green revealed to a rapt audience how he got the part of Geordie Keating in Grantchester. It seems one of his co-stars on his Sky action drama Strike Back had been seriously injured in Bangkok, and filming had to be suspended for several months while he recovered, which gave Green a neat window for some Cambridge-based detective work. That co-star was Sullivan Stapleton, now happily recuperated and getting his first big Stateside TV lead role.
In Blindspot, he’s dedicated FBI agent Kurt Weller, and he’s having a very strange day. A holdall has been abandoned in New York’s Times Square. Like a fairground escapologist, a young woman (Thor’s Jaimie Alexander) emerges delicately from it. She’s quite naked, but her body from neck to toes is swathed in tattoos. She’s got no idea who she is or what’s happened to her. What she does have is Weller’s name tattooed in very big letters on her back. He’s as much in the dark as she is, but as this pilot episode plays out, it’s clear that this Jane Doe has some very unusual skills; she’s fluent in arcane Chinese dialects, and can definitely take care of herself in a fight.
An intriguing idea – as Jane’s tattoos are deciphered it’s clear they could help the Bureau in its ongoing investigations and her fighting ability hints at a military background – is slightly hindered by some clumsy exposition and an occasionally creaky script: at one point Stapleton has to say “Chao’s going to blow up the Statue of Liberty!” with a straight face.
On the plus side, Broadchurch 2’s Marianne Jean-Baptiste is on board as Weller’s tough-talking FBI boss – complete with her own secrets, New York is looking good (this is definitely not Toronto), and Alexander is quite compelling as the utterly bewildered Jane, trying to make sense of her current situation while grasping on to anything or anyone who might know about her past. The camera’s not shy about fixing on her huge eyes as conflicting emotions flit across her face.
Sometimes new seasons take a while to bed down, and the producers can be on tenterhooks waiting to learn if they’ll get a second crack of the whip. Not so Blindspot, which got a full second season renewal from NBC only seven weeks in.
There’s certainly enough here to work with – who is Jane, what’s her link to Weller, who’s pulling both of their strings? Expect flashbacks galore as the clues trickle in…
Blindspot begins on Tuesday 24th November at 9pm on Sky Living