As if there weren’t already enough channel options these days, Cinemax is now making a concerted effort to get into original programing. This January they will premiere Alan Ball’s new show, Banshee, and Cinemax recently wrapped the second series Strike Back, a British and American series that I haven’t seen but understand does a more than serviceable job of combining sex with gloriously cheesy/intense action sequences. Hunted is original to Cinemax, their first in 15 years, and also a step up in an effort to recruit serious cable audiences more interested in soft-core titillation. One episode in, and I have to say, it’s a nifty little spy series.
From Frank Spotnitz, writer and producer of The X-Files, Hunted stars Melissa George (In Treatment, Grey’s Anatomy, Alias) as Sam Hunter, a spy in a private international firm that specializes in global intelligence and espionage. In the pilot, Sam is having a secret romantic relationship with a co-worker, Aidan Marsh (Adam Rayner) and after the covert mission that opens the episode (which requires Melissa George to disrobe and have sex with the target), Sam and Aidan agree to meet somewhere at an appointed time. It is there, however, where Sam is ambushed, and while she manages to take out five or six bad guys, she gets shot in the process.
Cut to a year later, and after recuperating in seclusion, Sam rejoins her old spy outfit with an eye toward uncovering the mole who had her shot. Was it her lover? Was it her boss (Game of Thrones’ Stephen Dillane), another co-worker, Dane (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbage (Mr. Eko from Lost) or is it a former target or client? Meanwhile, her former employer and co-workers are also suspicious of her, after she disappeared for more than a year.
That’s the A plot, so we won’t know likely until the end of the eight-episode season who is behind her killing, but in the meantime,there’s a secondary storyline built around a mission in which Sam is asked to infiltrate a family and use a little boy’s affection for her to gain secrete intelligence on a powerful millionaire CEO (Patrick Malahide), whose ambitions are at odds with the secret client for which Sam’s corporate firm is working.
So far, Hunted is certainly compelling; the action sequences are well shot and choreographed, the cinematography in the international locations (it’s based in London) is gorgeous, and the production values look high, especially for a Cinemax series. Melissa George is something of a bad-ass, but like the show, she has a perpetually grim disposition, but there’s at least the promise of some cool gadgets and, likely, Cinemax grade sex scenes. I understand that the series will take a lot of twists, some of them convoluted, but it holds potential as a solid spy series, only this one has the added benefit of a premium cable network behind it, so presumably that will mean more sex, violence, and language than your typical television spy series. If you have Cinemax, it’s certainly worth checking out, although perhaps not enough to warrant a subscription.