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NBC’s Blindspot will burn through story — but that won’t stop the drama about a Jane Doe covered in mysterious tattoos from stretching 10 seasons, producers told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
Blindspot centers on a beautiful woman with no memories of her past (played by Jaimie Alexander), who is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos. Her discovery sets off a vast and complex mystery that immediately ignites the attention of the FBI, who begins to follow the road map on her body to reveal a larger conspiracy of crime while bringing her closer to discovering the truth about her identity. Strike Back‘s Sullivan Stapleton plays Kurt Weller, the FBI agent whose name is tattooed on Jane Doe’s back and who is assigned to help crack the mystery, which is part of a larger crime conspiracy.
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“This is a character drama, first and foremost,” said showrunner Martin Gero, “a procedural for people who don’t like procedurals [and] a character drama for people who don’t like character dramas.”
“There’s an overarching mythology week to week. The cases do come out of her tattoos, and there are personal stakes for the characters. They care about getting the bad guys, but everything they investigate has to do with why Kurt Weller’s name is on her back and figuring out who this girl is.”
The pilot opens with Jane Doe popping out of a bag alone in an evacuated Times Square — with the character having no recollection of her past or why she’s nearly completely covered in tattoos, each of which is part of a larger puzzle.
“Yes, she has enough tattoos for nine or 10 years. … Her legs are just for the spinoff,” said Gero with a laugh.
The drama hails from prolific producer Greg Berlanti and his Warner Bros. Television-based production-company topper, Sarah Schechter. Gero executive produces and serves as showrunner.
Gero stressed that Blindspot is trying to create one of the “most badass female characters out there” and noted that the show would burn through story, with the “why” behind her mind-wiping and tattoos revealed at the end of the season.
“I like seasons of TV to feel like chapters of books I like,” he said. “The backstory we came up with is so dense, we can turn cards quickly. In episode two, there’s an indication of why Kurt Weller’s name is on her back. We break bread crumbs. There are whole loaves of story in each episode of Blindspot. There’s great resolution by episodes two, seven and 10.”
To that point, producers stressed that the end of each episode will feel like a teaser for the subsequent one.
Producers also stressed that they weren’t concerned with Fox’s upcoming Prison Break revival — likely meaning there will be two shows with tattoo mysteries on broadcast TV.
“We welcome the tattoo conversation,” said Gero, noting that Blindspot has a one-year lead. Added a confident Alexander, in a nod to the first scene of the series: “It’s in the bag, literally!”
As for Alexander’s elaborate tattoo process, the actress undergoes 7 1/2 hours of makeup to apply the artwork created by Tinsley Transfers. The result sometimes can last for a few days at a time. Producers stressed that creating the process began when Gero first pitched the show — which, coincidentally, was a year ago today. Gero also noted that he’s aware viewers may pause their TVs in a bid to crack the tattoo mystery, and he’s excited to see the audience play along as the series progresses.
Blindspot premieres Monday, Sept. 21, at 10 p.m., following the return of The Voice.
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William Jackson Harper