A high-octane, globe-spanning thriller with storylines ripped from today’s headlines, Strike Back, Cinemax’s first scripted prime-time original drama series, focuses on two members of a top-secret intelligence agency known as Section 20: Michael Stonebridge, a British sergeant on the elite counter-terrorism team, and Damien Scott, a former U.S. Delta Force operative who was discharged on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Stonebridge, Scott and the rest of Section 20 criss-cross the globe on the trail of a deadly international terrorist named Latif, who is planning a major attack involving a cache of WMD that could have global repercussions. – Cinemax
(NOTE: The ‘Tastic has changed its rating system. We are now using a 100 point scale.)
Our Rating: 90 out of 100
There are some shows that we go into saying to ourselves, “this could be a lot of fun or this could be complete crap” and it doesn’t seem like there really is a chance that there could be a middle ground for it. Cinemax’s first serialized drama, Strike Back, is no exception and adding to the either/or possibilities for the series is the fact that it’s on at 10:00 p.m. on Friday nights… and it premiered in the middle of summer. No one watches television at 10:00 p.m. on Friday except your grandmother who’s watching 20/20. The coveted 18 – 49 demographic is out getting their freak on. Well, they all need to get their twerking asses home (NOTE: thanks to YouTube, we just learned what twerking was yesterday, so… we’re hip.) and sober up because they now have a reason to not leave the house… and to subscribe to a premium cable package.
THIS is what an action show is all about. We’ve seen a few comparisons to 24 thrown around and, honestly, for about twenty seconds we were thinking the same thing, but then it dawned on us that the shows are very dissimilar except for the fact that they focus on a counter-terrorist organization, are action-packed and seem to throw in a cliffhanger/big twist at the end of each episode. Well… OK, we will concede that it would appear “on paper” at least, that they are a lot alike but we think the comparisons and the noted similarities of the show by ourselves and others is more representative of nostalgia and 24 withdrawal more than anything else. Don’t forget, we were promised that NBC’s The Event was going to be the next 24, heck it was going to be Lost meets 24 but that didn’t quite work out that way at all. We’re all just jonesing for the next 24, is all.
Truthfully speaking, Strike Back plays out and is produced much more like a feature film than it is a television series, even a premium cable television series. We can only imagine what the budget on this show is as they don’t seem to be pulling any punches at all and it should be noted that although this is the first season of the show for us here in the U.S., this was originally a Sky 1 show in the U.K. (Chris Ryan’s Strike Back) so what we’re watching now is actually season two (known as Strike Back: Project Dawn in the U.K.) . This is the same thing that Starz did with Torchwood: Miracle Day and it’s becoming kind of annoying. Yeah, we get the fact that you’re taking great U.K. series and adapting them for the U.S. audiences in such a way that they don’t have to see the previous seasons in order to immediately catch on but it’s just retarded. Just based on the description in Wikipedia, if you didn’t see the first season on Chris Ryan’s Strike Back, than you missed a lot and we know for certain that the same can be said for the first three seasons of Torchwood. Hey, Cinemax and Starz: get your acts together and order the prior seasons and air them before your network exclusive show. You’re doing a disservice to your audiences by not.
Anyway, as clichéd as it sounds, Strike Back truly is a non-stop adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are complex and well-developed, the plotline is smart and will keep you guessing and unlike the most of the shows on HBO that are just plain lazy, the violence and language is actually more-or-less appropriate when considered in context with the show. Now, there is a TON of gratuitous sex and nakedness going on but the damned show is so good that they get a pass from us on this. Honestly, in this case the T ‘n A seems more like an added bonus on this testosterone filled thrill-ride.
Speaking of clichéd, though, as good as the show is, we did have two complaints: we really do like the characters but the characters of both Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), our male leads, came off as very clichéd and cartoonish in the beginning of the first episode. It was just kind of silly, stereotypical action-movie character crap that was very off-putting. As the episode progressed it improved dramatically with both characters showing much deeper levels of complexity.
Our other complaint was the “cliffhanger”/”big-twist” at the end of the episode. Without giving anything away, if you watched this episode and didn’t see the twist coming the moment character-X was introduced than you were asleep. That or you never watched 24 or Die Hard or any one of a number of action films/television shows. It was lame, it was lazy and it was predictable. We love a good twist, but don’t treat us like we’re morons.
You can watch full episodes of Strike Back, here.
…And for your added viewing pleasure, right here!
And to sweeten the deal, some saint has posted the entire first season, right here!