Michael Dorman is game warden Joe Pickett

Joe Pickett: I’m game if you’re game

Riley Riley

If you’re a fan of author C.J. Box and the Joe Pickett books, you might want to check out the Paramount series of the same name.

Pickett is the new but obviously troubled game warden in Wyoming’s famous Yellowstone National Park.

He had a tough childhood at the hands of an abusive father and is having trouble getting over it.

Box has written 21 Pickett novels to date which have been translated into 27 languages, with more than 10 million copies sold in the States alone.

Open SeasonBlue HeavenNowhere to Run and The Highway have been optioned for film and television, with the latter adapted into a TV  drama series Big Sky, which debuted in November, 2020.

The first season of Joe Pickett is a combination of Box’s first and third books, Open Season and Winterkill, with Kiwi actor Michael Dorman starring as Pickett.

You might recognise Dorman NASA astronaut Gordo Stevens in the 2019 sci-fi series For All Mankind, about an alternative reality in which the Soviet Union beats the United States to the Moon.

He was also Tom Wilcox in the Australian television comedy-drama Wonderland.

Julianna Guill plays Pickett’s wife Marybeth, who has sacrificed a career as a lawyer to follow her husband into the wilderness.

Sharon Lawrence is her boozing, nagging, mother Missy who taunts that her daughter is throwing her life away as the wife of a game warden.

The couple have two young daughters — Sheridan and Lucy — played by Skywalker Hughes and Kamryn Pilva.

Then there’s Patrick Gallagher as the coffee-fixated Sheriff Barnum and Chad Rook, his dopey deputy McLanahan along with the former game warden Vern Dunnegan played by David Alan Grier.

Mustafa Speaks is feared survivalist Nate Romanowski and his pet Falcon who it seems is hiding from someone or something with fingerprints that have been burned off to hide his identity.

Pickett gets off to a bad start in his new job when he loses his sidearm to a poacher he is trying to write him a ticket. Game wardens are armed in the US.

Several shots are fired in the ensuing struggle before he is able to overcome the man.

But word spreads quickly and he is soon the laughing stock of the town.

One thing is beyond doubt however and that is Pickett’s commitment to his job and family.

He also has a very strong moral code, with clear sense of what is right and wrong — a breath of fresh air in these troubled times.

Haven’t read many of the books so I can’t tell you much more than that.

The series rates highly and has been renewed for a second season.

The only people who seem to dislike it are fans of the books because it doesn’t follow the plot precisely.

Like most adaptations, it is futile trying to match everything in the printed word. It just doesn’t work.

Joe Pickett is a high quality production, with interesting characters, plenty of suspense and dark humour at times.

And the scenery is picture postcard perfect, with most of the action shot outside.

I’m a huge Jack Reacher fan, but this series is 10 times better than the Reacher TV series, even if they did get someone taller than Tom Cruise.

Interestingly, a Joe Pickett Trivia Contest is held annually at the Saratoga Museum in Saratoga, Wyoming.

You can catch Joe Pickett on Paramount+.


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Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

It’s a bit off-beat and that’s probably what makes the show.


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