- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2016

A binge-watching bonanza featuring great television shows arrives through a trio of recently released Blu-ray sets.

Blacklist: The Complete Third Season (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, not rated, $75.99) — Actor James Spader continues as the enigmatic criminal mastermind Raymond “Red” Reddington, who is willing to help the FBI as long as he benefits.

This season offers 23 episodes (compiled on five Blu-ray discs) and attempts to resolve the plotline of FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) being framed by the Cabal (a powerful, shadow organization) for killing a U.S. senator and being apparently outed as a Russian spy.

Of course, Red comes to the rescue, tapping into a rogue’s gallery of twisted associates to help her, while Special Agent Keen goes on a deeper journey of discovery to uncover her complex past.

Mr. Spader truly makes “Blacklist” worthy of digesting at a binge pace. Be it his quirky enunciation, unpredictable actions or obvious love of the role, Mr. Spader makes his character one of the most enjoyable on television today.

Best extras: A welcomed pair of commentary tracks — on the first of the two-part episode “The Director.” and “Cape May” — allows fans to hear from series creator Jon Bokenkamp along with Brandon Margolis and Kat Goodson.


SEE ALSO: Blu-ray review: ‘The Return of the Living Dead: Collector’s Edition’


Viewers also get roughly three dozen deleted and extended scenes spread out over the episodes as well as five featurettes (52 minutes in total).

My favorites of the segments are a detailed, 9-minute look at the making of the comic-book series (including interviews with writer Nicole Phillips and Mr. Bokenkamp) and a 15-minute overview of the best criminals from the third season.

The Knick: The Complete Second Season (HBO Home Entertainment, Rated TV-MA, $34.98) — The latest 10 episodes to director Steven Soderbergh’s brilliant soap-operatic ode to the morality and medicine served at a New York City hospital named the Knickerbocker in the early 1900s arrive as four Blu-ray discs.

During Cinemax’s second, and perhaps final, season, our heroin and cocaine-loving chief surgeon Dr. John Thackery returns to work after an obvious unproductive stint in rehab.

He delivers more havoc than help to his colleagues while they are dealing with the potential of relocating to a new building.

Actor Clive Owen has truly created a legend as Dr. Thackeray, a genius with an ego as wildly out of control as his innovative creativity to save patients.

The season shines with more graphic medical operations and continued examinations of topics such as eugenics, corruption, feminism, addiction and race relations within a burgeoning, turn-of-the-century Big Apple.

What truly stands out from the season is the final episode chronicling one of the most insane and excruciating surgical procedures ever witnessed in the history of television.

Best extras: Viewers get a trio of spirited optional commentary tracks — “Ten Knots,” “There Are Rules” and “This is All We Are” — with many of the key cast members on hand (sans Mr. Owens, what’s the problem pal?) prompted by co-creator and writer Jack Amail.

Also a nice selection of short featurettes (totaling roughly 60 minutes) delivers a concise post-op to each episode, dissects set construction and costuming, offers facts during the time period and, my favorite, highlights the too-real practical make-up effects used in performing an autopsy and brain surgery.

Blindspot: The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, $54.97) — Twenty three, screen-filling, high-definition episodes begin to unravel the mystery of a gorgeous woman (Jaimie Alexander) crawling out of a bag in Times Square, covered in tattoos and having zero idea who she is or how she got there.

Viewers quickly learn grizzled FBI Special Agent Kurt Weller’s (Sullivan Stapleton) name is inked on her back leading to a team up and an episodic look at each tattoo and its potential to reveal information on preventing acts of terrorism and solving the mystery of operation “Daylight.”

The episodes suffer a bit from “stating the obvious” dialogue moments and long, pained stare competitions but those are forgotten quickly thanks to plot twists and some fantastic close-quarters combat scenes around New York City.

The NBC series has almost as much promise as the “Blacklist” or dare I say “24” and should peak the interest of crime drama and puzzle fans who will quickly consume the episodes.

Best extras: Series creator and writer Martin Gero and teams up with director Mark Pellingham for an optional commentary track on the pilot episode. Between patting each other on the back, the pair offers a nice introduction to the series and marvels how they were able to get their first choice for every cast and production member.

Spread out among the four Blu-ray discs in the package are 19 deleted scenes (explained by Mr. Gero) and almost an hour ‘s worth of featurettes spearheaded by Miss Alexander and creators talking about the show at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con.


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