picture from NBC's the blacklist finale animation

NBCBlacklist/Twitter

NBC show ‘The Blacklist’ found a bizarre solution to its coronavirus shutdown

It's the first live-action drama to use animation to solve the lockdown problem.

May 6, 2020, 6:51 am

Internet Culture

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Thanks to coronavirus shutdowns, many TV shows will soon reach a point where they simply run out of new material to air. That means unavoidable delays, but some showrunners are coming up with more creative solutions.

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Case in point, NBC’s crime thriller The Blacklist. This show isn’t usually at the forefront of groundbreaking innovation, but it’s definitely popular enough to be renewed for an eighth season next year. The problem is, they didn’t quite have time to finish season 7.

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While The Blacklist didn’t finish filming the finale before they halted production, it’s still going to air next week. How, you may ask? Well, they cobbled it together from a combination of live-action footage and Sin City-looking “graphic novel” animation. So James Spader will now look like… this:

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The finale sounds like it was a pretty wild experience to create. The season was meant to run for 22 episodes, but they’re having to end with episode 19, meaning some quick-and-dirty rewrites to wrap up in this half-animated episode.

After the show halted filming in mid-March, showrunners Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath joked about finishing the season with an “old-school radio broadcast” voiced by the actors, which evolved into the idea of animated segments edited into the content they’d already filmed.

Bokenkamp optimistically told the AP that the show had a lot in common with comic books thanks to Spader’s role as an antihero. By working long distance between animators in London and Atlanta––and mailing sound equipment to the actors so they could record their lines at home––they managed to complete an episode that will air on May 15.

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This isn’t the first show to radically change its format during the pandemic, but it’s certainly the strangest. So far, Saturday Night Live and the legal drama All Rise have aired episodes where the cast communicated by video chat.

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H/T Associated Press

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*First Published: May 6, 2020, 6:51 am