TV - Patriot


Susan Omand opts for something different as she watches Patriot on Amazon Prime...

Some people think I’m weird. I would disagree with this term. Different? Yes. Unconventional? Probably. Non-conformist? Yeah, maybe. Thinking and talking so far outside the box sometimes that people stand and stare at you in the pub for 5 minutes with their mouths open before wandering off looking confused? It’s happened. Several times. But I’m not weird. Now bear with me, because I know where I’m going with this. People who call themselves weird, by and large, aren’t. They dress, act, even think in a way that they believe is weird, because they want to be seen as weird. They’re doing it for a reason and fitting a weird formula. To tick a box. To fit a category. To be in with the in-crowd of “weirdos”. They’re being different in a specific enough way that they can fit in to the accepted “weird” box.

And it’s this need for box-ticking categorisation, of oneself and one’s surroundings, and the understanding of what those boxes are that I think is why the Amazon Prime original series Patriot never got further than the pilot.

I have a bad habit of scanning through Amazon Prime looking for one-off shows, films that I’ve never heard anything about or series pilots, just to broaden my viewing and challenge my thinking a bit, and last night I came across Patriot. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t a full series, as it had an interesting premise of a US government Intelligence agent being sent unofficially under cover as an engineer at a plant that had ties with Luxembourg and Iran so that he could oversee the physical transfer of some funding to make sure the presidential election in Iran goes the right way. The high up Government official sending him was his dad, the funding was in 500 euro notes in a neon pink nylon holdall that he had to take on the plane with him to Luxembourg and the agent didn’t know the first thing about engineering. Oh, and he’d started moonlighting as a folk singer in Amsterdam to “get rid of the stress” but, being an Intelligence agent, his songs were about subjects like how the Iranian government was nearing nuclear capability and how an Egyptian scientist was helping them out while on vacation who he, as an agent, was sent to assassinate but he accidentally shot a housekeeper instead. So what could possibly go wrong? The show even had Terry O’Quinn (Lost, Hawaii Five-O) as the father and was written by Gil Bellows (the sublime Billy Thomas in Ally McBeal) so it’s not as if that went against it.

No, I think where it went wrong for this show and why it never got further than the pilot is that people tried to make it fit into genre categories. They called it a comedy. Now while there are one or two laugh out loud funny bits and the writing is incredibly clever, sometimes bordering on the surreal, I wouldn’t call it a comedy. They called it a thriller. Well, yes, there are chases and espionage and subterfuge and moments of vicious violence that were so utterly psychotic and pass so quickly you wonder if it had really happened or if you had just imagined it but I wouldn’t call it a thriller. They even tried calling it a drama. The characterisation was good and I could see that a long story arc could be developed but it was just not dramatic enough yet. In fact, it wasn’t anything enough yet to be able to fit into any particular tick box. It was just... different. And I enjoyed it.



Image - IMDb