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September 9, 2018

Bookish TV: Jack Ryan on @PrimeVideo

by Donna Huber



I mentioned in my August wrap-up post that I was looking forward to watching Jack Ryan on Amazon. I was a bit worried about how it would translate to television. I recently binge watched the 8 episode season and here are my thoughts. Have you watched it?
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I love Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series. I think it was the first grown-up series I "discovered" after graduating from college. I remember that summer after graduation and not having a clue what to read. It had been quite some time since I really read anything that wasn't assigned and I wasn't even sure what I really liked reading anymore. I know I had read some Christian fiction and romances, but they were still more young adult than adult. Mom had on a bookshelf some Tom Clancy novels and I remember enjoying the movies so I decided I try one of the novels. I think I started with The Cardinal of the Kremlin. After that one, I was hooked and started to read through the series. Every espionage story I've read since are compared to that series.

I've continued to read the series off and on as they have moved on to focus on Jack, Jr. and being written by Mark Greaney. Though without quite as much enthusiasm.

As I said, I've watched the movies. I loved The Hunt for Red October (though it is pretty different from the book) and have watched it a few times. I've seen both Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games. I really like Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan and when I think James Grear I immediately think James Earl Jones. (So much so that when I listened to my first Jack Ryan novel I couldn't remember when Grear was talking because I expected to hear James Earl Jones). I was excited when Sum of All Fears was released as it would be the first time I would see a Jack Ryan movie on the big screen (I watched the others on video). I didn't like it. I missed the original actors and from what I remember it didn't follow the book very closely. While I enjoyed Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit I could not reconcile the storyline with what I know of the Jack Ryan universe.

Jack Ryan

So while I was excited when I first heard that there was going to be a Jack Ryan television series, I was also really worried about how they would treat one of my all time favorite series. Would they stick to the Cold War espionage tales, would the series really be about Jack, Jr., or would it be more like Shadow Recruit and combine Jack, Sr. history with present-day events? They went with door number 3.

If you are a book purist, then the series may bug you. Cathy is an infectious diseases specialist instead of a pediatric eye surgeon. Jack still is the lone survivor of a helicopter accident, but instead of it happening in Crete, it happened during Afghanistan. He has made money as a Wall Street stockbroker, it is less clear if he was ever a professor at U.S. Naval Academy. Actually, in the television series, it seems that he only has degrees in economics, instead of a doctorate in history. He meets Cathy at her father's birthday party, which is kind of close to how it happens in the books (he meets Cathy when having dinner with her father while he is still a stockbroker).

I didn't like Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan and I had forgotten that Alec Baldwin had played him in The Hunt for Red October until I re-watched the movie a few years ago. Harrison Ford has pretty much always been Jack Ryan in my head. While in Shadow Recruit, I felt Chris Pine was more like the Jack, Jr. in my head,  John Krasinski made a believable Jack, Sr.  I think that it is partially due to him playing a younger version than the Jack in the book series.

I think the character played by John Hoogenakker is supposed to be Clark. His character is listed as Matice at IMDB.com. But Clark wouldn't have given his real name in the field.

The character though that I really dreaded the casting of was James Greer. I really didn't think anyone could replace James Earl Jones. But they cast it just about as perfect as they could. While Wendell Pierce doesn't have the voice of James Earl Jones, he definitely captured the mannerisms of James Greer. I found him to be very believable as the character.

Overall, I enjoyed the series. The episodes go by quickly (I think I watched 3 or 4 the first night) as the storyline is compelling. I'm already thinking of watching it again as 8 episode went by way too quickly. There are some winks to fans of the movies and those who know the real history of Jack Ryan. If you are expecting the series to follow any of the books, then you will be disappointed. But if you can let go of that and enjoy seeing beloved characters brought into present-day situations, then I think you will be happy with the series. I, for one, am happy to know that season 2 is already in the works.

Have you watched the series? Do you think they got the characters right? Did you enjoy the show despite not following the book series's storyline?

Watch Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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2 comments:

  1. I just watched the first two episodes this past week, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I haven't read the books, I'm afraid, but I have seen the movies. The Hunt for Red October is my favorite and I agree about A Sum of All Fears. I look forward to continuing with the series and am glad there will be a second season!

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    1. I really liked The Hunt for Red October movie. It's probably my favorite (it's the one I remember the most about). It was strange when I read the book though as so much was different.

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