Let’s face it, Cinemax isn’t known for its riveting series. It’s not like Showtime or HBO that constantly sweep the Emmys with their hit shows. Cinemax, also known as “Skinamax,” is known for one thing and one thing only…the fact that late at night it shows softcore porn. With that in mind, imagine my doubt when I first watched Cinemax’s original series, Strike Back.
Normally I would stay far away from a show like Strike Back, but since Rhona Mitra joined the show, now in its second season, I gave it a shot. So I bought the first season from iTunes, buckled down and watched. Boy was I surprised!
Strike Back is a British/American military action show, inspired by the Chris Ryan novel of the same name. Cinemax describes the show as:
A high-octane, globe-spanning thriller with storylines ripped from today’s headlines, Strike Back, the network’s first original primetime series in more than 15 years, focuses on two members of a top-secret intelligence agency known as Section 20: Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), a British sergeant on the elite counter-terrorism team, and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), 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.
The storylines are enthralling and the characters are complex and likeable. Cinemax proves that a show doesn’t need nudity or sex scenes (even though we get both) to be a watchable show. What’s more, is that Strike Back’s creators have taken the time to do their research. Every mission, tactic, movement, gun, and technology has been screened for accuracy by actual military intelligence officers. Even the actors have been trained in proper position and protocol to ensure accuracy. The time and effort devoted to realism pays off, creating a realistic, immersive, and dangerous world.
Lord Monkeypants made a good observation. He too was dubious as to the show’s quality. Can you blame him? After watching the first episode of the second season he turned to me and said, “so it’s pretty much just gun porn.” He’s kind of right. For gun enthusiasts the show could be considered gun porn. It’s clear efforts were made to keep the guns accurate based on the regions where the missions take place and the show is pretty violent. I encouraged Lord Monkeypants, who is a gun enthusiast himself, not to give up on the show and to watch the first season instead. Low and behold, he’s hooked.
Rhona Mitra plays Major Rachel Dalton, Stonebridge and Scott’s new commanding officer. I’m sorry to disappoint you boys and girls, but Dalton isn’t a love interest for either of the main characters. She’s a hard-nosed soldier capable of making tough decisions and kicking some serious booty. She and Scott don’t really get along, which makes for some good ol’ tension between them. With Dalton and Scott respect and trust is something that is earned, and it’s been interesting to gradually see it forming.
Strike Back airs Friday nights on Cinemax. Check your local listings. Season 1 is available for purchase on iTunes and DVD/Blu-Ray. Make sure to check out Strike Back‘s official site for some pretty sweet behind-the-scenes extras.