It seems that jumping into the original programming pool is the way to go. With the success that AMC, HBO and Showtime have enjoyed, it was only a matter of time for other cable networks to test the waters too. Cinemax is the latest with the launch of their first ever scripted original series, Strike Back, which premiered this past Friday.
After viewing the first episode a couple of things stood out that piqued my interest. First was the British-heavy cast. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore British television and have no problem with a British cast. But knowing American TV, this stood out. I also noticed that this show is being produced by the British network Sky Television. I decided to do some digging and found that even though this is being scripted for Cinemax, this is a British show and it’s technically not the first season.
In the grand scheme of things, what we’re seeing on Cinemax is the second season of a show called Chris Ryan’s Strike Back. That season is available on DVD but after watching this first episode, I don’t think it’s a necessity. I didn’t realize there even was a first season until I started doing research. They wrote the premier so that new viewers would not feel out of the loop and it’s easy to pick up. Given, there are some things that would probably make more sense, but really, it’s not a big deal.
In a nutshell, Strike Back focuses on Section 20, a covert branch of MI:6. One of their operatives, John Porter (Richard Armitage), was taken hostage by a Pakistani terrorist named Latif, who has been on their radar for years. The problem being that only Porter, and one other man, Damian Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), who happens to be an American, knows what he looks like.
Scott is a former special teams operator who was dishonorably discharged from the service and who is currently spending his time between brothels and underground fight rings in Kuala Lumpur. He’s approached by Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and is asked to help find Latif. He agrees, reluctantly, and the two men soon find themselves in the middle of a hostage situation in New Delhi.
So that pretty much takes you up to the end of the first episode. There’s quite a bit of sex on display, as well as blood, guts and violence. So it’s like 24, but on steroids. It’s in the same vein as 24, but with A LOT more T & A. I mean A LOT more. It is Cinemax after all. It’s certainly not for young eyes, or ears for that matter. If you can, I would even keep the kids away from the previews of other shows that Cinemax airs before the episode starts.
While some of the machismo may seem like overkill, it falls in line with the offending character. Mainly this issue lies with the character of Damian Scott. He’s all brute and very little finesse, but did manage to show a little bit of tenderness late in the episode. It’s hard to gauge just what type of character he’s going to be after only one episode but I refuse to hold his blatant F bombs or man-whore-ish ways against him this early in the game. He’s surly, burly and buff, but seems like he could be that type of character that grows on you. He may irritate you, but you can’t help but like him in the end.
As for the character of Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, well, he’s the antithesis of Scott. He’s a military man, and a husband. He follows his orders, but has a rather dry quality to him that makes him likeable, but maybe at arm’s length. He seems like he’s all about the mission at hand, and can be very by-the-book. I have a feeling that Scott will bring him out of his comfort zone at some point. Philip Winchester pulls off the British accent very very well. I never would have known that he’s not British had I not looked it up. Turns out they have an Australian playing the American and an American playing the Brit. Interesting choices, but they seem to fit.
During the episode, I wasn’t quite sure if this is one I would stick with. However, those crafty writers ended the first episode with a cliffhanger so of course I need to watch the second. Which will probably lead to a third…etc. etc. etc. If I’m being completely honest, I ‘ll just say now, that yes, I’ll follow along for all 10 episodes.
MoMax will replay the first episode on Friday before the new episode airs on Cinemax. Check your local listings for showtimes. Care to see what all this is about? Check out the trailer below.
Tags: Cinemax, Philip Winchester, Richard Armitage, Strike Back, Sullivan Stapleton