11 May 2018

Review: C. B. Strike on Cinemax (debuts June 1)

Reveiw of Cinemax's C. B. Strike series
Photo credits: Steffan Hill/Cinemax
Mark your calendars for the June 1 premiere of Cinemax's C. B. Strike, a seven-part series based on the Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith (better known as J. K. Rowling). The series stars Tom Burke as Cormoran Strike, ex-military police now running his own P.I. business out of London, and Holliday Grainger as Robin Ellacott, who is initially hired as a temporary office manager.

C. B. Strike brings the first three Strike novels to the small screen. A supermodel's death is the focus of The Cuckoo's Calling (episodes 1–3): Was Lula Landry's fall from a third-floor balcony an accident, suicide, or murder? A slanderous unpublished novel and gruesome murder are at the center of The Silkworm (episodes 4 and 5): Agent, wife, fellow authors . . . who was angry enough to kill Owen Quine? Child abuse, murder, stalking, and revenge create a snarl of issues in Career of Evil (episodes 6 and 7).

There is much to like about Cinemax's C. B. Strike (thanks to Cinemax for the advance screener). Most important for fans of the books, the series is faithful to author Galbraith's stories, with the expected simplifications of some tangential plot threads. Further, just like in the novels, we learn about Cormoran's and Robin's home life and backgrounds in bits and pieces and are spared long digressions to fill us in.

Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger star in Cinemax's C. B. StrikeI was initially unsure about Burke and Grainger's ability to embody Galbraith's characters and create the complex chemistry between them. I shouldn't have doubted; within a few minutes, I believed both actors. Burke plays Strike with just the right mix of charm and rebel; especially impressive is the way he handles Strike's disability. Grainger conveys Robin's intelligence, determination, and strength, without masking her vulnerabilities.

Fans will be generally pleased with the book to screen adaptations in C. B. Strike. The sets were a good-enough match to what I had envisioned from reading, and the score is well thought out, reflecting the mood of the action without interfering. I particularly liked the way the series is filmed, with interesting angles to break up the more straightforward sequences.

The three episodes of The Cuckoo's Calling offer an excellent introduction to Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott; the extra hour allows the plot to simmer and gives us time to formulate our own ideas of the model's fate. Although The Silkworm was pared down to two hours, it didn't feel rushed or oversimplified, and the guest stars were excellent.

Of the three adaptations, Career of Evil is the least successful. The complexity of the original plot would have benefited from a third episode. The main points of the story are in the screen play, but some of the changes took away from Robin's personal arc and watered down the solution to the mystery. The episodes are, however, well put together, and it's fair to say that if the novel weren't fresh in my mind, I might not have been bothered by the differences between show and book.

Put all seven episodes of Cinemax's C. B. Strike on your watch list and clear your Friday nights. The atmospheric series is sure to be one of the highlights of your summer viewing.

For more information and a preview, visit the C. B. Strike website. C. B. Strike is produced in association with BBC One. Executive produced by J. K. Rowling, Neil Blair, Ruth Kenley-Letts, and Elizabeth Kilgarriff through Bronte Film and Television.


Marg 5/11/18, 6:46 AM  

I have watched the first two episodes and enjoyed them a lot, especially the portrayal of Strike

One thing i have commented on while watching is how important the city of London is to the feel of the series

rhapsodyinbooks 5/11/18, 7:01 AM  

I can't wait! Strike looks a little more attractive than my impression of him from the books, but I'm not complaining!

Daryl 5/11/18, 8:26 AM  

i am bummed we dont get Cinemax ....

(Diane) bookchickdi 5/11/18, 12:47 PM  

I’m always happy when books translated to the screen turn out well.

Jackie McGuinness 5/12/18, 8:21 AM  

Thanks for this, looking forward to it.

Les in Oregon 5/14/18, 2:33 AM  

I'm really looking forward to watching this series!!

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