Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pilot Review: C.B. Strike

C.B. Strike (Cinemax)
Premiered June 1 at 10pm

Here we have an interesting product - a BBC One adaptation of a set of novels written under a pseudonym by J.K. Rowling that was broadcast in the United Kingdom as a set of three different seasons each focusing on different cases. Cinemax and HBO Canada are now airing it on this continent as a straight series of seven episodes. This show is in many ways a very recognizable story of a private investigator with few social skills who just doesn’t care what other people think of him. There are some layers to it, however, that make it worthwhile, like the fact that he’s a veteran who lost part of his leg and the son of a famous rock star. His first introduction was memorable, with his new temp Robin nearly falling down the stairs after witnessing the tail end of a blowup argument. Fortunately, he’s not nearly as decrepit as many similar characters, and Robin is enterprising enough to be able to prove her worth, handling his calendar with ease despite little information from her boss and then making her job permanent rather than having to deal with going through the temp agency anymore. Of course Strike would be the kind of man who would be told by important people that he would be ruined if he didn’t stop his investigation, and such threats wouldn’t shake him and instead just compel him to keep digging. I see that both Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger have starred in a number of British and international productions, and though I’m not familiar with either one of them, they both seem very well-cast. This show might be interesting to me if there wasn’t much else on, but for now I’m happy to classify it as a better use of an hour than most other shows I abandon after their pilots.

How will it work as a series? Splitting it into two- to three-part seasons makes a lot of sense for the story, and I don’t think that airing it in one straight shot is necessarily a problem, especially given how some lengthy broadcast TV shows this past season might have been made bearable if the plotlines hadn’t been stretched out to fill the content. The mystery and framework both seem solid here.
How long will it last? Reviews seem to be fine if not spectacular here, and the show did pretty well in the UK with the first two seasons broadcast one after another last fall and the last one released earlier this year. It sounds like any continuation is based on whether Rowling writes another book, which is apparently delayed based on initial expectations. As long as the primary cast members are available, more seasons should happen.

Pilot grade: B+

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