Exploring The Night Agent
Just got back from vacation where I binged on The Night Agent and kept wondering why I couldn't stop watching. You nailed it.
Just finished The Night Agent last night and was totally satisfied by it, whereas I started Jack Ryan and somehow wandered off and never finished it, so I can totally relate to your experience.
My comfort books are the sort of fantasy books that get tagged with the label "extruded fantasy product." I mean, sometimes you want a thoughtful fantasy that explores all the ramifications of a carefully constructed and original fantasy world, but sometimes you just want to read about a party of brave adventurers of various sorts journeying across the landscape to either find or destroy the McGuffin and thereby save the world, or at least the kingdom (at least for now - somehow it always seems to need saving again).
This seems to be a good place to recommend KLEO on Netflix. its a throw back to the fall of the Berlin Wall and involves a deniable East German operative who has been imprisoned by her own side because of political complications. and when the wall falls is free to seek her revenge. This is spiced up by the involvement of West German policeman who witnessed the operation that puts Kleo behind bars and doesn’t think the facts add up. its been out about a year and may be familiar to some, but it is a jewel in lineup full of formulaic dross. its is formulaic itself, but care is taken to make at least the main characters non-cardboardy and made the 8 episodes bith thoughtful and entertaining.
I've watched most of the Illinois Libraries Presents events and loved them. Some have been familiar authors and others I've not known at all but every one has been interesting. It's a wonderful service and introduced me to some new authors.
Yes, this is all well said. On the TV front, I think sitcoms are a great example of this. Currently airing Abbott Elementary sticks closely with the structure of a 22 minute single camera comedy. It’s often better than some well reviewed 30 minute dramadies. And yes on the network procedural. Bones was a favorite.
I read your upmarket fiction piece with interest. My name for them was “book clubby books”. It’s basically all we read at my book club. Meanwhile I inhale romance novels in my free time. But I also gravitate to literary fiction. I was wondering why I prefer to go to the two extremes and am less satisfied with my book club’s picks. Your essay explains what’s going on!
does this explain Lincoln Lawyer as well...because wow that show.. and yet...
I love your observation that the director decided " that's good enough". Often, especially on a long day, a director will say " cut...moving on." The enthusiasm ( or lack of it ) in the words "moving on" is usually an indicator that one of the takes was " good enough". A perceptive actor can sometimes offer to give the director another take after a tepid " moving on." With time consuming combat sequences involved, I'm guessing the answer in the other scenes was often no.
We found the Bosch detective series addicting. It's the semi-renegade police officer with personal baggage who nonetheless manages to scape out victories genre. Good acting, high production values. A really watchable family saga (5 seasons) is Weissensee, a German series about a Stasi family dealing with the end of East Germany. There are all dimensions of family conflict mixed with unusual (to US viewers) dilemmas.
" it seems like it’s actually Barack Obama’s reading list."
Well, of course it is! Barack's been a member of Seminary Co-op for donkey's years. Did his first book signing (for "Dreams for my Father") at their general interest bookstore, 57th Street Books, back when no one except Hyde Parkers knew who he was.
RE: genre fiction - Dorothy L. Sayers' "Gaudy Night" is the best mystery/detective novel ever. I re-read it so often that I've had to replace my copy more than once (okay, that's in part because paperbacks are not well-made, but that's a rant for another day).
I'm not nearly as big of a fan of Bill Bryson as I used to be (he's moved from humorously crabby to kind of a real jerk in his last few books) but I re-read A Walk in the Woods every few years and I think it is the perfect travel memoir: funny and smart and deeply grounded in the place (a good travel memoir should feel like that the story could only happen in that specific place, I think).
Wonderful take on The Night Agent, John. I’m a firm believer in the magic of genres, from hard sci-fi to fantasy to procedurals to thrillers, etc., etc., although I also love high lit fiction. I’ve hummed and haaa’d on The Night Agent for weeks but will now start watching it tonight.
I only watched S1 of Killing Eve, and I thought KLEO was even better. Kleo herself is a very compelling character, and the addition of Sven Petzold, first as antagonist and then as ally was very satisfying.
My guilty TV pleasure is BritBox mysteries, Father Brown, Death in Paradise and a new one to me. The Coroner. A smidge of mystery, improbable police procedures, idyllic British countrysides (or island) pleasingly wrapped up in about 45 minutes. My comfort authors are the ones who write police procedurals, Louise Penny, Mick Herron (new), Jo Nesbo, and oh how I miss Sue Grafton.
Off topic of this post (sorry, not sorry), but I see you've again recommended A Different Drummer by William Melvin Kelley, as you did for me, and all I can say is THANK YOU, John, and PLEASE keep recommending this outstanding book and bringing it a tenth of the attention it deserves. Gosh.
I liked the show, too. I think the rating is 7/10. =)