The Weight

While I am a Reacher fan, I would not go so far as to claim “Reacher Creature” status.

I stopped reading the series after it got into the late teens; I don’t remember why I stopped, but I did and then I got so far behind I couldn’t remember where I left off in the series (even now, looking through a list with synopses I don’t remember where I stopped reading), and while I know I enjoyed each Reacher story I read, I don’t have the time to go back and try to figure out where I stopped. I clearly remember Gone Tomorrow–I remember the set-up with the woman he thinks is a suicide bomber on the subway at the beginning, which is almost the entire synopsis–but the last one I think I read ended up with him in a mansion on an island with a causeway leading out to it; with no other way off the island and it’s basically an armed stronghold (reminded me of Tintagel from Arthurian legends); the synopses of the next two books don’t ring any bells.

Maybe when I retire I’ll have time to revisit the series and get caught up. Lee Child is one of the loveliest men in the crime genre–he was in New Orleans years ago for a romance convention–and Alafair Burke (God, I am namedropping!) had invited me to join her for lunch, as she was also in town for the romance event (I think it was Romantic Times’ conference?), and so I met her at the Marriott on Canal (which was hosting) and as we walked to Green Goddess for lunch, we ran into Lee on the street and Alafair invited him to join us.

I don’t think I spoke much as I sat there at lunch with LEE CHILD and ALAFAIR BURKE, completely starstruck and not believing the incredible luck of my life. (Seriously, am I the luckiest homo on the planet or what?)

But I always remember fondly the first book in the series, The Killing Floor, which set the tone for the entire series, and I fell in love with the character–which was unusual for me. As a gay man, I tend to avoid books with these alpha male types; toxic masculinity and misogyny (as well as homophobia) tends to run in these kinds of books and I ain’t got time for reading that shit. But Reacher wasn’t like that–yes, he was an enormous man (250 pounds of solid muscle, 6′ 5) and he could kill you with his bare hands in less than three seconds, but he was more of a knight-errant; traveling around the country with just the clothes on his back, some money, an old war medal of his father’s, and coming to the rescue of countless people who need help. He had a code of honor that he lived by, and I respected that…not to mention the imagery of what he looked like as I dreamed him up in my head as I read (I’ve always, always, had a thing for big men–but that’s a subject for another time) and yes, he became a bit of a fantasy type for me. (I will not discuss the films based on the novels or the casting of those films, as so many others have inevitably done in the wake of the Amazon Prime series arriving; it’s really not necessary and the show should be judged on its own merits, not how it stacks up against the films–good or bad.)

But when I heard they had cast Alan Ritchson as Reacher, I may have done a fist pump.

I mean….

I first became aware of him when we were binge-watching Smallville. He had a small role as Aquaman in one season (just as the equally gorgeous Justin Hartley was cast in a recurring role as Green Arrow for several seasons–was delighted to see Hartley’s career take off with This Is Us), and I remembered thinking, he should be spun off into his own series (just as I thought about Hartley’s Green Arrow; I was bummed when Arrow was announced with Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen–but was also incredibly wrong about being bummed about that casting), but Aquaman would be a hard television series to produce, particularly budget-wise, since there would inevitably have to be a lot of underwater scenes shot, which also makes dialogue difficult to pull off. I would have watched Titans anyway–Teen Titans was always one of my favorite teams–but was delighted to see Ritchson playing Hawk, and was horribly disappointed when (SPOILER) they killed him off.

But had they not killed him off, he couldn’t have gotten the lead in Reacher, and it’s a star-making turn…so hopefully this will mean more Reacher, and more Alan Ritchson projects.

We’ve only watched the first episode, but we are hooked. Ritchson is perfect at the role, and even if he is a few inches shorter than the character in the novels, the way they shoot the show makes him seem much bigger than he actually is (I also wonder if they deliberately cast shorter actors to make him seem bigger, but it’s an effective optical illusion). The big takeaway for me always about Reacher was his size; he was a physical giant that you couldn’t NOT notice. The script is good, the direction and cinematography great, and the rest of the cast is also good (it includes Willa Fitzgerald, a favorite of mine after her turns on Scream the television show and Dare Me), and it has everything it could possibly need to be a hit.

And now I kind of want to read The Killing Floor again.

Also: while watching, it occurred to me that Ritchson would make a terrific Travis McGee.

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