There are several reasons the paranoid thriller has largely shifted to TV, perhaps foremost because the kind of mid-sized, character-driven stories these films exemplified has been relegated to a cinematic no-man’s land, lost between special-effects-driven blockbusters and small independent films.
Television, moreover, offers the latitude to tease out games of cat and mouse, although that poses its own set of challenges, as evidenced by the creative contortions of “Homeland” in its later seasons and Fox’s misguided revival of “The X-Files,” which in its heyday was a classic of the genre, albeit with a supernatural twist.
The British and Danish have been especially good at mining this territory, yielding an assortment of shows that now reach the U.S. via avenues like Netflix and content-hungry cable networks.
The new “Condor,” it’s worth noting, doesn’t quite take flight in its opening episodes, a reminder that translating such a concept into a series isn’t always an easy process.
Still, the current climate for such fare does appear relatively hospitable, for a variety of reasons. Looking back at the ’70s for the Daily Beast, Adam Sternbergh wrote that the movies of that era reflected “cultural by-products of a widespread societal freak-out.”
For many immersed in today’s 24/7 news cycle, that might sound like a fair description of where we are now.
“Killing Eve” and “The Americans” end their seasons on May 27 and May 30, respectively. “Condor” premieres June 6 on Audience Network.