September 2018~ Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is a new 8-part show which premiered on Amazon Prime in August 2018. It acts as a prequel to the books and films already set in what is known in ‘The Ryanverse’ and ignores the events of the last two Jack Ryan movies- The Sum of All Fears with Ben Affleck & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine.

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Jack Ryan has now been played by a total of five different actors. Alec Baldwin played him in ‘The Hunt for Red October’ whilst Harrison Ford played Jack in ‘Patriot Games’ and ‘Clear and Present Danger plus the aformentioned Ben Affleck and Chris Pine.

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In the new Amazon show, John Krasinski (Of The Office US fame) plays Dr. John Patrick “Jack” Ryan. Jack is a CIA Analyst whose job is to track terrorist organisations via their financial transactions. As in the books, Jack has experience as an accountant/broker which makes him ideal for the job. He works in Terror, Finance, and Arms Division (T-FAD). At the start of the show Jack clashes with his new boss, Jim Greer. This is a big change from the books which I will touch on later. Jack comes across some dubious transactions that lead him to uncover a terrorist plot with worldwide ramifications.

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Whilst all this is taking place, Jack briefly meets with an old boss from his Wall Street days, Joe Mueller. At Joe’s birthday party, Jack meets Dr Catherine Mueller, Joe’s daughter. Anyone who has read the books will know that at some point in the future, Catherine (Cathy) Mueller will become Mrs Cathy Ryan. There isn’t a great deal of change from the books and films. In ‘The Hunt for Red October’ her name was Caroline “Cathy” Ryan and was played by Gates McFadden from Star Trek: TNG. Anne Archer played Dr Caroline Catherine “Cathy” Ryan in the two Harrison Ford films. In all versions she is a medical doctor although her speciality has differed. In the new show Dr Catherine Mueller is an expert on infectious diseases and is played by Australian actress Abbie Cornish (the best looking Cathy Mueller so far!).

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What follows is a neatly woven tale of action and intrigue set against the backdrop of the war on terror. One new aspect to Jack’s character is that he suffers from PTSD- he has recurring nightmares and bouts of insomnia due to a helicopter crash during his time in Afghanistan. Again, this is a another change from the books as in the books the helicopter crash took place whilst Jack’s marine unit was taking part in a NATO exercise over the North Sea. The scars, wounds and back problems still remain the same.

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I don’t want to give too much away as it’s an excellent series and deserves to be watched. I’m a big Jack Ryan fan and was worried when I heard about this series being developed especially after ‘The Sum of All Fears’ and ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’. They were ok action films, but not Jack Ryan.

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John Krasinski does a great job as Jack Ryan. He got the slightly-nerdy, honest, honourable, overgrown-boyscout bit right and didn’t play him like a Jason Bourne character. Yes, he held his own in a fight, but then he is an ex-marine and should be able to. It was good to see his relationship with Cathy really develop.

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It’s already been renewed for season two. I’m really hoping that as time goes on it does start to link in more with the books. At some point Jack has to leave the CIA, get his history degrees and end up again as an analyst (focussing on naval warfare) at the CIA and then teaching history at the Naval Academy!

At the end there are a few nods to the books/films. For example, Greer jokes that maybe one day he will be Deputy Director CIA (see below) and when Jack is handed a book from Greer at the end there are nods to Moscow and Russia possibly setting up the lead in to either Red Rabbit or The Hunt for Red October.

If you have access to Amazon Prime and like espionage stories then check this out!

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Read on for my thoughts on the changes to the Jim Greer character.

I must admit that it took me a couple of episodes to warm to the new Jim Greer.

In the new show Greer is played by Wendell Pierce (of ‘The Wire’ fame) and isn’t a great deal older than Jack. Jim Greer has just been appointed as head of T-FAD and that makes him Ryan’s boss. The appointment was seen as a demotion for Greer due to an incident in Karachi. He is also Muslim. There doesn’t seem to be any naval connection or family to speak of.

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The Jim Greer from the novels and films is quite different. For one thing he is Vice-Admiral James Greer USN and was brilliantly played by James Earl Jones in the first three movies. To attain the rank of Admiral would mean long, distinguished service in the Navy. His role within the CIA is vastly different as he is the Deputy Director (Intelligence) of the agency. Greer also has a wife and family.  I would need to re-read the books again to check as I think he was Catholic. These are fairly substantial changes. Hopefully they will be addressed. To be honest though it won’t spoil the story and it’s not the first time someone has retconned a backstory.

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July 2018~ London Film & Comic Con 2018

This was my first Showmasters event since 2016 as at this time last year I was in Belfast at a close friends’ wedding.

Previous events had been extremely busy. In the past I have been quite critical of the events, the amount of space used and amount of tickets sold. There have also been some very unhelpful crew over the years. With the weather this year forecast to be record breaking due to the ongoing heatwave I was concerned. It was a concern that was unfounded. The whole venue had been used which allowed people to move around fairly easily in comparison to previous years. The main photo shoot area was mental but that’s fairly normal especially with some huge names announced. The crew in one photo area did their best to confuse people and didn’t like to be questioned but it all worked out in the end.

I will add that this is the first LFCC I have enjoyed for many years. You can never have a problem-free event, but this was very close from an attendee point-of-view. A lot of fun!

Yet again I was helping man the USS Iceni charity stall, hoping to raise funds for both Starlight Children’s’ Foundation and Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Our total prior to the event was £13506. We started with 300 prizes and by the close of day 2, Matthew and Lorna had to restock. At the end of the event only a handful of prizes were left and a grand total of £1026 raised, bringing the total to £14,532. A good effort by all!

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There were the usual dealers selling a wide range of merchandise. If you wanted something in particular you could probably have found it there.

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Amazon Prime were also there promoting their new series, Jack Ryan. I’ve been a huge Jack Ryan fan since the late 80s having read all of the books and seen the film adaptations of some. This is to be a prequel series set before the books and the trailer looks good. Amazon had gone all out and set up a mini CIA-type recruitment stand. You had to pass an interview (I had a bit of fun answering some of the questions in the little bit of Russian that I know), there was then a weapons proficiency test, aptitude exam and interrogation. It was all good fun and you ended up with an ID card and, if good enough, your name on the scoreboard!

There were over 80 guests this year, from film, TV, music and sports. Some were incredibly rare signers including Meatloaf and James Caan plus three top guests from The Dukes of Hazzard (4 if you count The General Lee). There was also a huge Doctor Who guest contingent including Peter Capaldi, David Tennant and Christopher Ecclestone. I chose to avoid those this time around and focus on guests I had been waiting a long time for. Namely David Duchovny, Zachary Levi and Sam Neill, with the latter two being announced last minute.

I also decided to focus on the cast of Wonder Woman, one of a favourite Superhero movies and get a poster I made signed. Unfortunately, Lucy Davis (of Shaun of the Dead fame) cancelled and therefore missed out on the pleasure of meeting me. One day Lucy, one day!

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The remaining cast (Eugene Brave Rock (Chief Napi), Said Taghmaoui (Sameer) and Emily Carey (Young Diana)) were all equally amazing!

I also met Sean Young (to add to my Blade Runner collection), William Hope and Lance Henriksen (for my Aliens collection) and Shauna MacDonald (for my Spooks collection). We need more Spooks guests!!

Finally I had a nice time meeting Nathalie Emmanuel who plays Missandei in Game of Thrones. We ended up chatting about my tee shirt!

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Both David Duchovny, of The X-Files and Zachary Levi, of Chuck and the new Shazam movie were real gentlemen. A pleasure to meet!

However, the highlight of the weekend for me was meeting Sam Neill who had flown all the way from New Zealand. Apart from playing Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park films, Sam was in two other book/film series that I follow. He played Captain Vasiliy Borodin in the Jack Ryan (see above) film, The Hunt for Red October. He also played the adult Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, in Omen III: The Final Conflict. It was this film that inspired my photoshoot with him. Everyone else in the line was dressed as either Dr Alan Grant or a dinosaur. I on the other hand made a very rough, last-minute sign that read “#DamienThorn4President. I asked him if he would mind pointing at it. He took one look, let out a big laugh, looked at me and said “seriously?”. I replied “Can’t be any worse than the current one”.  He smiled, we had our photo and I left. Very enjoyable!

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As usual there were an amazing amount of awesome cosplayers. Photos below!

Roll on 2019. I’m hoping for Gal Gadot and of course, Lucy Davis (who needs Chris Pine right?)!

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