How A New Show Learned From The Blacklist To Still Wrap Its Pilot Despite Pandemic Delays

The Blacklist Elizabeth Liz Keen NBC
(Image credit: Will Hart / NBC)

A new show has The Blacklist to thank for wrapping up its pilot despite the delays wrought by the pandemic. As television fans are well aware at this point, the coronavirus has led to the massive shutdown of the industry. That situation led to an early end to the TV season and a tough break for pilots hoping to get greenlit.

That is where the sci-fi drama, Debris, comes in. Deadline reports that NBC has picked Debris up to series, and it reportedly had the most pilot footage of any broadcast drama contender for 2020. Unfortunately for the show, its pilot was not complete, and that is where The Blacklist enters the story.

In order for NBC to decide its fate, Debris completed its pilot using the animated techniques that The Blacklist used to finish its season. So it worked out great for Debris and The Blacklist, as the former got a series order and the latter got to end its season on a more complete note.

Due to the pandemic, The Blacklist’s seventh season got cut short three episodes shy of the original finale. With the show having filmed a lot of the episode before the shutdown, the decision was made to finish it using animation. It was an ambitious decision that ended up working well for the crime drama.

It signed off right after the 150th episode, and it went out with a combination of animation and live-action footage. The Blacklist’s creatives explained how it all came together and, when it made it on screen, it was incredibly impressive for me,  even more so when you consider the tight timeframe in which the animation team had to complete it.

In fact, the animated segments went so well I included that aspect as one of the shockers I could not get over about The Blacklist’s Season 7 finale. Considering how successful it was, I was a bit surprised that more shows were not using the technique to wrap up their respective seasons.

The fact that Debris managed to move forward by using this technique is a testament to its power. The Blacklist’s innovative thinking ended up setting enough of a positive precedent to encourage another show to give it a go, and I, for one, would be open to many shows getting animated to return sooner amid the global health crisis.

Right now, shows like This Is Us are contemplating not resuming filming until next year. Meanwhile, Blue Bloods was reportedly looking to a machine that zaps COVID-19 to commence filming on its tenth season. Meanwhile, The CW has pushed its fall slate into 2021. So if they all went the way of The Blacklist, they could return sooner.

Perhaps The Blacklist is onto something, and that is the best way to get fall television back on track sooner? After all, the coronavirus has not stopped writers from writing. Scripts for Stranger Things’ upcoming (and disrupted) fourth season are ready. They just need to get in front of the camera. Maybe in an animated form? Just a thought.

You will be able to see more live-action adventures when The Blacklist comes back for its eighth season on NBC after this summer’s premieres, though Season 8 does not have a return date yet. Until it is known, check out past seasons of the crime drama on Netflix, along with lots of 2020 arrivals.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.