I didn’t hold out much hope for this series. I’d read some of the original books by Tom Clancy on which the series is based and they were not most subtle. The Hunt for Red October was the first and perhaps the best known of Clancy’s books. It came out way back in 1984 with the Soviet Union still in being and the Cold War with the US looking like it might never end. They were books very much of their time.
In Red October the Americans are almost always the virtuous good guys and the Russians, and everybody else, children of a lesser deity. Black and white were the theme colours and little was complicated by shades of grey. Square jaws, red, white and blue and the Star Spangled Banner…..you get the picture. They were good stories and massive bestsellers but could be hard to take for non-Americans. In the age of Trump, they would come across as a parody or a tasteless joke.
The TV series however is entirely different. It takes the basic skeleton from the novels but thankfully adds far more meaty substance to the plots and characters. It isn’t cynical or negative but it is realistic. The characters are less black and white, there is more than one view and no one has all of the answers or an easy life.
It’s less gung-ho but most definitely does have action sequences and moments of tension. The story has its focus in the Middle East but, like real life news, it makes connections and roams the globe. The main opponent is Muslim but so is the head of the CIA unit that Jack Ryan works for. All of the characters have histories that explain, to some extent, their outlook on the world and their motivations in doing what they do.
To say anything more would be give away some of the pleasure in watching and learning as the series develops. Do give it a watch if you like an well crafted, soundly written and entertaining action drama.