Amidst COVID-19 production complications, shows like NBC’s The Blacklist are forced to make difficult decisions as to how to finish out their seasons. For its season seven finale, the drama turned to animation, producing an episode sharing visual aesthetics with noir graphic novels and voiceovers from cast members James Spader and Megan Boone.
When government orders acknowledged the dangers of the virus’ spread, The Blacklist was midway through shooting its 19th episode of a planned 22-episode season. Eventually, producers came up with the idea to supplement the material they had with graphic novel-style animation. The cast and crew sequestered themselves in their homes and began editing, recording lines, and animating remotely to fill in the blanks.
In the first weeks of the pandemic, Riverdale completely shut down production and only recently re-aired following a crew member’s positive diagnosis with COVID-19. Meanwhile, shows like CBS’ All Rise leaned into the real-world setting with a recent, filmed-from-home episode, much like regular talk shows, Saturday Night Live or even John Krasinski’s beloved Some Good News YouTube show have pivoted to.
Interestingly though, more and more studios are turning to, and depending on animation as traditional live-action shooting becomes more dangerous. Recent weeks have seen the announcement of FX’s My Little Demon with Dan Harmon, Danny & Lucy DeVito, and Aubrey Plaza, Netflix’s 40-episode order for an Angry Birds series, a LEGO Shazam animated series, and much more as industry overseers point out the medium’s flexibility in a work-from-home setting.
Shows like Archer prove that the idea isn’t perfect – even it faced production snags in the transition – but Blacklist opting to completely shift gears from live-action to animation is just another sign of how the industry may change in the wake of COVID-19.
The season seven finale of The Blacklist airs on May 15, and was recently renewed for an eighth season. Here’s the episode synopsis, , per Deadline: “The Task Force investigates an accountant who works for lucrative criminals in order to find the violent and thuggish brothers hired for his protection. Liz must make a momentous decision. Presented in a unique hybrid of live-action and graphic novel-style animation.”