Hero Hunger: A Report From 2022

They little knew of brotherhood
– The faith of fighting men –
Who once to prove their lie was good
Hanged Colonel Jacques Chretien.

[Gordon R. Dickson, “Brothers”]

     The C.S.O. and I recently watched this Amazon Prime mini-series and loved it. The headliner and co-producer is Chris Pratt, one of entertainment media’s disfavored for two reasons:

  1. He’s an American patriot;
  2. He’s a Christian and dares to talk openly about his faith.

     Perhaps there are now three reasons, for Pratt’s The Terminal List is Amazon Prime’s most popular series at the moment. It’s commanded wide acclaim from its viewers, who scorn in their turn the many scornful critical reviews of the production:

     The Amazon Prime series follows Lieutenant Commander James Reece, played by Pratt, 43, after his platoon of Navy SEALs is ambushed while on a covert mission. He then returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event.

     Only 37% of critics have given The Terminal List a positive review, according to Rotten Tomatoes, but a massive 93% of viewers approve of the show, with most giving it a five-star rating.

     If you have the time and the inclination, toddle over to that Daily Mail article and sample the critics’ reviews and viewer comments for yourself. The gulf is unbridgeable. It reinforces the thesis I advanced in this piece, but more to the point it makes plain the utter disdain the “critical community” – and you will never find a more arrogant gaggle of self-appointed “authorities” united in their disdain for heroism, justice, and one another – feels for what audiences crave.

     If I may do so without spoiling the series for persons who haven’t yet viewed it, Pratt’s character, Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander James Reece, is the lone survivor of what appears a botched raid. As he discovers the facts about that raid, he undertakes a campaign of vengeance against those who killed his wife and daughter and contrived the deaths of his teammates. It’s implied that his decision will cost his life.

     While the underlying plot idea is straightforward – “I’ll get them before they get me” – it’s executed with verve and no small amount of pathos. Pratt / Reece portrays heroism in the cause of justice, served up raw and frequently bleeding. There’s no mystery why viewers love it…or why the critics hate it.


     I write heroes. In part, that’s a reflection of my values, but in still larger part it’s my response to the quite evident hunger for heroes – “of the old style,” many would say – that most contemporary fiction refuses to address. It’s not that writers and filmmakers are unaware of that hunger. Indeed, what could be plainer, given the reactions of ordinary Americans to productions such as Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies, Top Gun: Maverick, the recent Amazon Studios series Reacher, and The Terminal List? Compare the wild applause for those productions with the general disdain for the “woke” stuff that’s poured out of Hollywood and the big publishing houses for some years now. You’d think writers and producers interested in money would at least try, however insincerely, to gratify that hunger.

     But the big movie studios and publishing houses aren’t having any. They who make the funding and publishing decisions seem to have a higher priority. They’re paying a stiff price for it. That’s entirely appropriate for industries that purport to sell entertainment.

     Their ongoing unprofitable expenditure of money and resources on products that please few readers and viewers suggests that it would have been more sensible to follow a different star. Well, at least the “critical community” is on their side.

     The indie community of writers, directors, and producers are unhampered by that priority. It’s what opened the eyes and wallets of readers and viewers to our wares. The questions remaining are whether the big studios and houses will eventually admit its mistakes, and if so, what they’ll do about it. They might try to enlist the indie community rather than compete with us. It would be an amusing outcome, especially considering how many of us endured their scorn for years before deciding to go it alone.


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    • Univ of Saigon 68 on July 12, 2022 at 10:54 AM

    O.K., I put Terminal List on my watch list. Just one question: is it a ‘limited series’ that has an actual ending, or is it one of these that ends with a cliff hanger and then goes on season after season until it finally jumps the shark.

    I ask because I get lured into these never-ending things like Outer Range, also on Prime, where I spent several hours I’ll never get back watching Season 1.

    1. (chuckle) It’s a limited series. Eight episodes, no final cliffhanger.

    • Steve on July 12, 2022 at 8:32 PM

    I would submit to you that the main reason this series is so damned good – and the biggest reason the “critical community” –  despises it, is because it’s a masculine show. Good old-fashioned, the hero does what must be done, even if he dies in the process of doing it, because it’s what’s right. Most of your average people understand this and aspire to it, or at the very least applaud when they see someone else undertaking this.

    The “critical community” on the other hand probably hates it because they see themselves being portrayed in the villains category and (greedy corpratist, dirty federal agents – gee who would have thought! – and a CO who just assumes sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away so he can retire to take that 7-figure salary he’s been promised in the private sector.) don’t like being shown the mirror.

    • Univ of Saigon 68 on July 12, 2022 at 9:16 PM

    O.K., I watched the 1st two episodes and I’m hooked. Thanks for the tip.

    • caren on July 12, 2022 at 10:19 PM

    Love Gordon r Dickson, top fav sci fi writer, will read your blog more.  Agreed on your questioning regarding how can they spend so much money on woke product that will not sell, the must be a bottom to that well?

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