Season two of international intelligence drama Patriot returns to Amazon Prime Nov. 9. The new season sees U.S. intelligence officer John Tavner, who took cover as a middling employee at a Midwestern industrial piping firm in season one as he aimed to prevent Iran from going nuclear, lose his bag of 11 million euros. He continues to plot to influence Iran’s presidential election, which is as complicated as it sounds. The new order: the assassination of the pro-nukes candidate in a Paris compound.
Michael Dorman plays Tavner. Terry O’Quinn plays his father, also his operation’s chief, and Debra Winger his mother.
The whole of season two was shot in Paris. Steven Conrad created the series. He’s mostly a film guy, having worked on Wonder and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. He aims to shoot Patriot like a long, recurring film. “It’s not so much a TV show but a movie that comes to you all at once, every 18 months,” Conrad said.
Paris was a “remarkable” setting, he said. “We hope to be able to stay there.”
Conrad aimed to depict the real Paris, dark sides and all, in the show. “We don’t shoot the Eiffel Tower,” he said.
He was a stickler for natural light, which likely made the shooting process last a bunch longer. But he felt it’s worth it. “We tried to be cinematic in the TV process,” Conrad said.
You may recall the movie The Patriot, which had Mel Gibson as a South Carolina farmer forced to fight the British in the Revolutionary War. Conrad said searching for Patriot on Amazon would bring up The Patriot first, and a New England Patriots spatula next. (Searching for “Patriot” on Amazon today has Patriot ahead of The Patriot and the spatula, but behind a 12-pack of Patriotic Golf Balls, $29.99.)
Still, Conrad gives Amazon high marks for its partnership. “They hired us to make something distinctive, then they got behind us to do that,” he said. “It works—it’s a pretty functional relationship.”
Conrad executive produces, writes and directs Patriot. The other exec producers are James Parriott, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, Charles Gogolak and Gil Bellows.
Reviews for the new season are quite positive. The Hollywood Reporter said, “Arguably the best drama you're not watching, or haven't even discovered, Amazon's gem returns for more existential spy action, laughs and folk songs.”
Uproxx noted Patriot’s mix of fun and weirdness. “It is so strange. Not just the plot, which I’ve barely skimmed so far. The whole tone and style of it. It’s darker than a lot of bleak dramas but also funnier than a lot of goofball comedies. It moves painfully slow in places, on purpose, often for comedic effect, and then slams the gas and whips the action around at 120 mph through hairpin turns and crowded intersections. Creator Steve Conrad has given the show a wholly original vibe.”
Fittingly, Conrad could not name another TV series or a film that he would consider an influence on Patriot. “It’s really its own thing,” he said. “We want Patriot to be something different.”
He had an easier time comparing the series to record albums. The one Patriot is most like? “Beggar’s Banquet,” the Rolling Stones’ 1968 masterpiece that gave the world “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man.”
“It’s a ride,” Conrad explained. “You go different places.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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