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How '80s cop classics like '48 Hrs.' and 'Beverly Hills Cop' inspired Amazon's 'Reacher' series

We can all thank Eddie Murphy for allowing Alan Ritchson's Jack Reacher to lighten up every once in a while.

By Josh Weiss
Reacher Beverly Hills Cop GETTY PRESS

Turns out we can all thank Eddie Murphy for allowing Alan Ritchson's version of Jack Reacher to lighten up every once in a while. During a recent interview with Collider about the character's hit television series on Prime Video (simply titled Reacher), showrunner and executive producer Nick Santora explained how the humorous moments peppered throughout the show were inspired by '80s-era touchstones that managed to balance comedy with more serious content.

"I was raised on Midnight Run, Beverly Hills Cop, and 48 Hours. Those are movies that are hysterical, but also have real danger, real shootouts, and real drama," he said. "When I got to Reacher, they got it right away. The studio and the network got it right away. They were like, 'This doesn’t take us out of the tone of the show. This is the tone of the show.' Every once in a while, Reacher, who’s very direct, very blunt, and very dry is funny at times. I’m not gonna give Reacher a knock-knock joke, but Reacher can be funny, in and of himself, and situations can be funny, in and of themselves. The studio and the network got that right away. They understood."

The producer went on to say that fighting for a bit of light-heartedness in the projects he's worked on has always been a difficult prospect up until this point. "On almost every show I’ve been on, with executives at some point, who would give me notes and say, 'Why are they cracking jokes during a very dark time?,' or 'Why are you going for a laugh when they’re running from danger?'" he continued. "From Prison Break to Scorpion, to a million other shows I’ve done, I’ve always had to have that battle."

Amazon recently renewed the series for a second season just days after the first batch of episodes premiered online to blockbuster viewership numbers. When asked if the plan is to adapt Lee Child's books in order (which would mean 1998's Die Trying is up next), Santora gave another non-committal answer. Not totally unexpected since the next chapter is still in early development.

"It will be a conversation," he admitted. "Everything’s a conversation on this show, and I mean that in the best of terms. We have a studio, we have a network, and we have producers, but Lee Child is the Grand Poobah of this project. If Lee doesn’t like something, I’m not doing it. So, everything will be a discussion. I don’t know if we’ll go in order. We’ll see how it plays out."

While both the showrunner and Ritchson have hinted at an anthology format for subsequent seasons, Santora isn't opposed to bringing back fan favorite characters in a non-obtrusive way that stays within the established rules of the source material.

"I love the characters of Finlay and Roscoe. If there was a way to organically have them somehow pop in once in a while into Reacher’s life, wonderful. But we’re not gonna force anything and we’re not gonna do anything that messes up the lore of Reacher," the executive producer concluded. "Reacher can’t run around the country with his rag-tag team of crime fighters. That’s not Jack Reacher. I know, for a fact, that Lee Child would say, 'Nope,' and I would say 'Nope' too. We have to be honest to the book series.'

All eight episodes of Reacher Season 1 are now streaming on Prime Video.