Cinemax’s “Strike Back” fell into an unfortunate scheduling nether-region in terms of reviewing, with the first episode debuting while I was recuperating from press tour (though Dan and I discussed it on the podcast), and the series really kicking into gear while I’ve been trying to stay afloat amidst the broadcast network premieres.
And that’s a shame, because over the course of six episodes so far, I feel like the show has turned out to be far better than it needs to be. Though it’s technically the sequel to a British series of the same name, this series (a co-production between Cinemax and Sky1) is being largely treated as a new thing, and as one of the first Cinemax “original” series, all it really had to do was fit the channel’s brand, with lots of action (largely involving leading man Philip Winchester) and lots of sex (largely involving co-lead Sullivan Stapleton).
But “Strike Back” has turned out to be like one of those effective little B-movies that knows it’s an exploitation pictures and has no pretensions at being anything else, but is determined to be as good as possible within the limits of the form. Winchester’s giving a very strong performance, the action has been effectively brutal, the thriller scenes really tense, and the guest characters both well-cast (the most recent two-parter featured Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Iain Glen, essentially pitting Mr. Eko against Jorah Mormont) and often more morally complex than you’d expect.
Myles McNutt has some more detailed thoughts on the series to this point over at his Cultural Learnings blog, and I’m curious if any of you have kept up with it. It’s been a really pleasant surprise.