After three seasons, one of television’s best shows is coming to a close.
“Shooter,” based on the novels by Stephen Hunter, introduced television viewers to Marine Corps sniper Bob Lee Swagger (played by Ryan Phillippe) through 31 episodes (with three yet to air) on the USA Network.
Originally played in a 2007 cult movie of the same name by Mark Wahlberg — who produced the series — Swagger is a man with a strict moral code and the skills to enforce that code.
Leaving a legendary career as a Marine sniper behind him, Swagger starts a family and wants nothing more than peace and quiet and to be left alone.
His past, however, comes back to haunt him in the form of Isaac Johnson (played by Omar Epps), an old officer and friend who asks for his help in stopping an assassination. Swagger, a patriot to his core, reluctantly agrees, but is set up — and finds himself on the run.
That story line covered the first season — and the first book, 1993’s “Point of Impact” — and later seasons saw Swagger facing off against a sniper adversary and also digging into the mysterious past of his cop father.
Though it brought in respectable ratings, USA Network canned “Shooter” recently when the numbers began to slip. Part of the problem was the show’s abruptly shortened second season — due to an eye injury Phillippe suffered. With a cliffhanger ending that didn’t act as much of a season finale, some viewers simply ditched the series.
It’s a shame “Shooter” has been canceled: It was not only one of the best television shows around, but it was also one of the more right-leaning. Just as with Hunter’s novels — which are still going to this day; “G-Man” is the latest — “Shooter” showed respect for both gun owners and the military. It also highlighted a character with morals and dedication that fit more into an old John Wayne western than into today’s television landscape.
The series was a big hit in Middle America and that’s likely because not too many pieces of entertainment cater to the “red” crowd anymore. There are some pro-cop procedurals on CBS (here’s looking at you, “Blue Bloods)” and the newly minted hit “Yellowstone” — but otherwise there’s not much for the conservative crowd.
Wisely, “Shooter” never had a pushy agenda and never became preachy. It simply took seriously a character that many snarky Hollywood elitists would write off as a joke or even as evil in their scripts. It also took time to bring respect and realism to the stories of both gun owners and American veterans.
The series will conclude after three more episodes — but reports indicate “Shooter” could find a new home. With a dedicated following and still plenty of Hunter novels for more material, there is a strong argument for keeping the show going. Let’s hope Swagger can keep his adventures on the television screen and continue serving as a great counterbalance to most of leftist Hollywood’s over-the-top and often preachy content.
“Shooter” airs Thursdays on the USA Network at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.
To see Ryan Phillippe talk about his work with veterans and his role on “Shooter,” check out the video below: