Reacher: Reacher (Season 1)   Books Included 
February 13, 2022 7:07 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

I haven't read any of the books (yet?) myself, but since that episode 1 thread was getting a lot of veiled-book-spoiler references I figured people might like a 'books-included' thread to discuss the book-to-show changes openly.

I'd been only vaguely aware of the Tom Cruise Reacher movies - I guess I'd been under the impression that it was some Tom Clancy-ish series? But my best friend who is more of a cozy-mystery/procedural fan than me gave the show her thumbs-up, so, I binged it over the week and enjoyed it.

(Though, I had to laugh at that CGI-d tear running down Reacher's face in that last flashback in the finale. I mean, I know not every actor can manage the Jensen Ackles Single-Manly-Tear-TM or Kdrama Male Lead Full-On-Waterworks on cue, but, fuck, surely there was some practical trick he could have used on-set to get him to tear up on-camera.)
posted by oh yeah! at 7:24 AM on February 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'd been only vaguely aware of the Tom Cruise Reacher movies - I guess I'd been under the impression that it was some Tom Clancy-ish series?

I really enjoyed the first Reacher movie and I thought Cruise did a good job as Reacher and I liked the filming and the procedural elements. I'd recommend it to anyone. Second one was a bit of a mess.
posted by ftm at 7:29 AM on February 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Husband and I binged it this week. We realized we should have made a drinking game of the head butts.

I haven't read the books (and don't expect to, not my thing). This falls into the same body-count category as John Wick movies for me, though it seems more jarring in a "normal" environment than in Wick-fantasy-world.
posted by Archer25 at 8:52 AM on February 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I’ve read a lot of the books (read and forget, only a few plots stand out) but one thing I like besides the competence porn is the minimalism and usually the reader is playing catch-up. Reacher is so much internal and that’s what irked me about this series. He had to explain so much. Before it was going to happen. While it was happening. This is a scriptwriting issue and I hope they find a better way to solve it.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:25 AM on February 13, 2022

I really enjoyed the first Reacher movie and I thought Cruise did a good job as Reacher

Mm. Besides the size issue (dumb as it may seem, Reacher being huge is kind of a core element of his character, because it affects both how he approaches other people and how other people react to him), to me those flicks were very generic "Tom Cruise action movie." Like, they were fine for what they were, but while Reacher is definitely competence porn, it's competence porn led by an idiosyncratic weirdo. Cruise couldn't or wouldn't do that, he was just regular old hypercompetent Tom Cruise. Add Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg and now they're Mission Impossible flicks, add Cameron Diaz and they're Knight and Day II and III.

So far (1 & 1/2 episodes in), this series is doing a much better job with Reacher's character.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:50 PM on February 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

OK, Frances Neagley is waaay too chipper. She's supposed to actually scare Reacher in some ways (and be a better detective than he is), not banter with him. Hopefully this isn't leading to some sort of regular romantic entanglement between the two over future seasons.

And her appearance here makes me figure that Amazon isn't gonna cover the books in order.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:12 PM on February 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I guess I'd been under the impression that it was some Tom Clancy-ish series?

This is gonna set your expectations way too high, but the books are hyper-competent Tom Clancy characters who find themselves in low-stakes Elmore Leonard plotlines.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:30 PM on February 13, 2022 [9 favorites]

I think I'd prefer Elmore Leonard characters in high-stakes Tom Clancy plotlines.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2022 [5 favorites]

Morris slowed to a stop, a freight train stymied by a recalcitrant goat.

"What do you mean you forgot to bring your key? This is a two-person arming mechanism, we're sixty feet underground, and we've got 300 seconds until site-security makes another close-proximity visual pass. You're useless to me. I should just shoot you now."

Stiles, three steps ahead, glanced back to Morris with an expression mostly but not entirely unlike contrition, managed the sibilence of what was probably an 'S' before most of his jaw, tongue, and right cheekbone were splashed along the corridor wall.

"Fucking moron", Morris said. He waited about five seconds for Stiles to slump to the floor then punctuated the sentiment with two shots to the center mass and one to the back of what was left of Stiles' head. He considered his options, wondering if he'd be able to stop at that diner they'd passed twenty miles down the road.

Probably not.

posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:59 PM on February 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

I read the books, as the last gasp of the 'airport paperback' snackable genre, where you'd buy a foil-embossed-title novel for six bucks while waiting for your gate assignment, fly across the country, then finish it while you're waiting at baggage claim.

This Amazon streaming version is fine. I agree with a poster in the other thread that it gives off a very USA Network Presents: Jack Reacher basic-cable vibe.
But that's ok.
The movies were 'Tom Cruise tries to buy himself another franchise', but competent in an 'even bad pizza isn't all that bad' way.

If I have a complaint with the series, it's that they missed out on setting up the whys of Reacher. There's a very key character-exposition scene in one of the movies with Reacher and the local police that goes something like:
Suit: "I'm a detective; you were Military Police. What's the difference? Cop's a cop."
Reacher: 'Pretty much. Except every one of my suspects was a trained killer, with ready access to weapons.'
Gives the viewer a chance to say Ohh, that's why he's like that. He spent 20 years breaking up Saturday night bar fights like any policeman; except half the bar was made up of weightlifters fresh from knife fighting class. That's why he can make such quick work of small town goons.
That and some kind of info-dump two minute exposition scene, "So this guy was a decorated military policeman, got downsized, and now he just travels around by bus, paying cash from his service pension, doing the A Stranger Comes to Town, Rights a Wrong act? Just a passport and a toothbrush, buys thrift store clothes when what he's wearing gets dirty?" in an early episode might have gotten people on board a little quicker.
posted by bartleby at 10:45 PM on February 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have some thoughts about headbutts:
  • Did anybody keep a count? There were a lot of headbutts.
  • I'm no expert, but I'd think a headbutt is a short person's move against a taller one. How much sense does it make to have a 6'5" dude constantly headbutting all his shorter adversaries?
  • "The way he headbutted me, I could tel he was a practitioner of a South American martial art" made me laugh out loud. They were grappling. Their heads were already 10 cm away from each other's. How many different headbutt techniques can possibly exist anyway?

posted by kandinski at 11:32 PM on February 13, 2022 [3 favorites]

The body count does seem more egregious on screen, somehow. This is a very small town and it felt like well over a dozen people got murdered! And then the end: "Nah, I'm not sticking around." The FBI would be searching for him everywhere. But I know, there is no point in trying to make this be the real world. I've read all the books and will keep doing so because for some reason I love a taciturn murderer with a heart of gold.

I almost always carry a big handbag filled with everything I could possibly need, and boy, it's stressful watching him march out of town not carrying a single thing. What if he needs some Advil? Or a tape measure? Lip balm?
posted by something something at 6:34 AM on February 14, 2022 [6 favorites]

A Stranger Comes to Town, Rights a Wrong

The Littlest Hobo With A Shotgun
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:08 AM on February 15, 2022 [9 favorites]

The Tom Cruise movie would have been much better if they had inexplicably kept the “tall guy” stuff in the script:

Small town cop: I don’t need no 6’4” ape causing trouble in my town
Reacher-Cruise: (looking up to address cop) 6’5”.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:16 PM on February 15, 2022 [8 favorites]

Finished the show - enjoyable and I stand by my Burn Notice assessment.

One thing I really missed in the show was Reacher's killing Kliner's son and then taunting him with it. (Same staging in the book - the attack on Hubble's house that Reacher setup via Baker). The killing was one thing, but him taunting Kilner "Where's your son?". It made it very very clear just how brutally ugly Reacher can be.

I don't know if they didn't include it because they wanted someone younger to be Reacher's ultimate opponent, they were worried that Ritchson couldn't pull it off, or they wanted you to like Reacher a bit more

And that final warehouse scene was way more of a Call of Duty battle than the one in the book
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:14 PM on February 16, 2022

Really enjoyed most of this. Alan Ritchson makes a great Reacher though he's a bit too good-looking, as others have I like the slight awkwardness as he doesn't quite fit into conventional spaces.

The last episode got a bit generic-action-movie-ish though. Reacher seemed a bit standard, he doesn't use either his brains or his strength that much in the action.

I wasn't sure about bringing forward all the stuff explaining his past and bringing in Neagley. Lee Child wrote the first book as a kind of revenge fantasy after being laid off from his job. He also explained it was a reaction against the dominant cliché of the time of angst-ridden tortured detectives with troubled pasts. Reacher was intended to be the opposite of that: confident to the point of arrogance, with no moral qualms about disposing of baddies outside the law.

On the one hand I can see why the critics are complaining about that, they say it makes the main character boring or empty. But once you start going "oh he's boring, let's slap some anguish and trauma onto the character" you lose the whole point of who Reacher is supposed to be.

And even on screen I often get fed up with way characters are always having emotional catharses or Dealing With Issues while solving crimes and fighting bad guys. Why don't you just get on with the job like the rest of us have to do. One appealing thing about Reacher is that he's supremely direct. He just smashes towards his goal as effectively as possible without wastings words, time or feelings.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:15 AM on February 17, 2022

Yeah, I enjoyed this, though I was dubious about Ritchison's performance from the trailers, and I actually liked the Cruise version. (first movie at least) He grew on me. It's been a long time since I read the book, but I can see where they mixed some stuff up to meet the needs of episodic television. Adding the endless supply of Venezuelan special ops killers with their uncanny knowledge of where to show up and who to kill at just the right moment. Bringing in extra supporting characters and giving all the good guys their own axe to grind against a matching sub-villain so they can each have their own one-on-one battle with their personal nemesis in the climax. Christ, there's even a "save the cat dog" runner. (Was that in the book?)

But overall, I thought it worked. It kept things moving briskly enough that it was easy enough to overlook the moments that would have made no sense if you took time to think about them. The bad guys can't find Hubble themselves? God knows they can find anybody else they want to any time they want to. Like Joe's poor girlfriend who doesn't even make it out of the subway station. But Hubble, not exactly a master of tradecraft, can hide from them for a week or so? And then the bad guys decide that it's so important to find Hubble that they send Reacher - of all people - off with just one guy watching him to find Hubble and bring him back. Christ they may as well have just blown themselves up in their factory and saved themselves the trouble. Not to mention Reacher actually finds the guy in like three hours.

Props to Picard, though. "I'm about a three hour drive from Margrave. I'm on foot. It's the middle of the night, and I've been shot. But damn it, I'm supposed to be in Margrave in time to have a climactic showdown with the old friend I betrayed, and by God nothing's going to stop that from happening."

And finally, it's a good thing there was a massive, ruthless criminal conspiracy going on in Margrave or else Reacher's trip would have been totally wasted. The pie was not the best in Georgia, and Blind Blake apparently really died in Glendale Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee), arguably the least "blues" place in America.
posted by Naberius at 5:56 AM on February 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

Oh, note also the obligatory Lee Child cameo. He was the guy who brushes shoulders with Reacher on his way out of the cafe at the end.
posted by Naberius at 7:22 AM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

"oh he's boring, let's slap some anguish and trauma onto the character"

My favorite line of the whole book series is when Reacher gets sick of everyones shit and delivers the speech about "Are you going to walk up to your neighbor and say, oh my god, what's with you? I can't believe you actually have the temerity to know how to knit sweaters."
posted by ftm at 7:24 AM on February 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Never read the books or watched the Cruise movies, but found this a nice distraction and relief from a world where the bad guys or incompetents suffer little to no consequences. My only quibble was the camera shots that lingered a little too long on the tortured bodies. I was a big fan of Hannibal back in the day, so I'm not that squeamish, but this felt excessive.
posted by sapere aude at 8:57 PM on February 17, 2022

I went into this show completely blind. Not knowing anything about the Reacher film or books, when Neagley was introduced I assumed that she was going to be the quirky computer hacker needed to round out the team. I had no idea where the plot mystery was going until it was finally spelled out. On the other hand, I found it a bit too obvious that Roscoe would be the love interest, DC office lady was marked for death, and Picard would be a mole.

It was good low stakes escapism and I enjoyed it. Low stakes because you know the whole premise means Reacher is a flawless character who will never suffer any real loss or setback. I did wonder whether that would get boring, and whether Reacher would finally reveal a shameful secret or get knocked down a few pegs.

I was just finished with What We Do in the Shadows, so it was fun to see the familiar here in the role of the comic relief coroner. Then I recognized the dog owner as being one of the guys in Baroness Von Sketch Show, and wondered if he'd have a punchline too (not quite). Seeing both of them made me realize this show set in Georgia is actually shot in Ontario.

I know it's Reacher's thing, but I wanted longer fight scenes. Some of the fights in What We Do in the Shadows were more satisfying. The final fight was disappointing. I felt it happened too soon after the house ambush fight that already felt pretty final. It was unintentionally hilarious how Picard just reappears to make sure that the main cast was all partnered up for their big concurrent 1v1 fight.
posted by spreadsheetzu at 1:14 AM on February 18, 2022

So we had a family crisis (a dog died unexpectedly) and a few days later I had recovered enough that I needed something to take my mind away for a few hours. I watched the whole season in one go (very rare for me, but I needed a distraction), and it was better than I expected after reading the comments here. Fanfare Mefites are certainly past masters of damning with faint praise.

Things I liked: More inclusive writing and directing team, including younger but still experienced talent. Also, while while the dialog wasn't Mamet or Sorkin level snappy, it was good enough, and whoever did it understands banter in a way that 95% of popular media does not. That's a lot harder to do that it looks-- a phrase a found myself repeating at various times during the eight hour run of the show: during the action scenes, the location scouting, the blocking, continuity of scenes and camera angles. It was all better than it should have been.

Even more critically, the three main characters are sketched quickly, economically but thoroughly, and settle into their dynamic in a way that made it look easy but is really one of the hardest things to do in film. In a procedural show, they got trio character interaction right. It's one of the most difficult things to do, requiring work from show runner, writers, directors, and the ineffable actor chemistry-- and they pulled it off. When is the last time that happened on an hour long drama? Kirk/Spock/McCoy?

I still have no particular love for the source material, and I think Reacher is limited by never being wrong, but I also liked how this iteration is leaning more heavily into him being somewhere on the autism spectrum. The show isn't a masterpiece, but it did its duty of taking my mind off of grief, and last week on a podcast when I heard Ken Hite say, "Reacher isn't Justified by any means, but if given a chance to survive, you can imagine the show eventually getting within shouting distance in a season or two," and I found myself agreeing with him.
posted by seasparrow at 5:56 PM on February 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

I was just finished with What We Do in the Shadows, so it was fun to see the familiar here in the role of the comic relief coroner.

I assume Reacher and WWDS take place in the same universe, and Guillermo is going by an alias while he works in the morgue on some kind of stupid vampire errand.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:12 AM on February 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh, note also the obligatory Lee Child cameo. He was the guy who brushes shoulders with Reacher on his way out of the cafe at the end.

I wondered if that was him. It was an unnecessary bit, giving an extra a speaking part, so we figured it must have been Child. Cool.

We finished this up last night, and generally liked it a lot. My wife has read (well, listened to) the books, but I haven’t. Overall, itwas a good little distraction that never tried to punch above its weight. It knew what it was and did its job quite well.

The bad guys were pretty much spelled-out early, and then threw-in a couple of obligatory/expected plot curveballs toward the end (Kliner’s death and Picard’s betrayal). We had already assumed Picard was dirty. Kliner’s death was a bit more unexpected, though.

There were, of course, some nits to pick, as there always are. Reacher’s seeming invulnerability was especially difficult to accept at times. Hell, even his mother goes on about him being as strong as three men, which kind of dances into Ma Kent territory.

I think Roscoe’s character got the short straw toward the end a bit, getting shuffled-off to an Atlanta hotel room, and being out-of-sight until rescued in the finale. The character deserved a little better, but I suppose someone had to sit on the family.

And, there is no way in hell a guy hitchhikes around the country with no supplies.

Will there be further seasons for this? My wife was excited to to see “Season 1” appended to the title on the Prime listing, but I reminded her that streaming services tend to add that to all the non-movie titles, even one-offs.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 AM on February 19, 2022

Season 2 renewal was announced 3 days after S1 started streaming.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:28 AM on February 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

I wondered if that was him. It was an unnecessary bit, giving an extra a speaking part, so we figured it must have been Child.

I only knew it was him because he also had a cameo (non-speaking, though, IIRC) in the first Cruise movie as a uniformed cop. Haven't seen the second, but I'd guess they probably stuck in him in there somewhere. He's like the Stan Lee of Neo-Men's Adventure Pulp.
posted by Naberius at 7:47 AM on February 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

So, my dad was a big fan of these books, and shared them with me. I got into them too-competence porn, maybe? He and I both were appalled by the casting of Tom Cruise in the movies and refused to watch them-heck, he didn’t even want to speak of them. My dad also loved blues music-he and mom went on chartered Blues Cruises once or twice a year with big names and new acts. The music was one of his favorite things.

Dad died in august four months after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I wish he was here to watch this. It wasn’t perfect but the casting and damn, the music. It made me miss him hard.
posted by purenitrous at 9:17 PM on February 24, 2022 [6 favorites]

I watched the first episode and have the same problem that I do with the books, where everyone is reacting to a 6' 5" as if he's a mountain with arms. 6' 5" is tall! But one of my kids is 6' 6" and I see how people react to him as he goes about his day; a fair number of comments but no shocked gasps, etc.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:43 AM on November 5, 2022

6'5" is tall, but Book Reacher is also absolutely jacked.

He's described, in various places, as having biceps like basketballs, hands like dinner plates, a 50" chest, six-pack abs (given his usual diet of, like, diner hamburgers, this one seems especially impressive), and probably some superlatives I'm forgetting.
posted by box at 3:11 PM on November 5, 2022

Ah, that is impressive! I withdraw my comment.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:34 PM on November 5, 2022

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