TV series episode review: Strike Back (2010), season 1, episode 4 (directed by Daniel Percival)
“How did they know the exact spot where they went off the tarmac?” said Mr T, looking at the Super Duper Master Kick-ass Tracking Person and his followers, who had just stopped their Jeep, jumped out and pointed into the bush (not necessarily in that order) at where Porter and friend had disappeared in a previous scene. “My thoughts exactly,” said I, and we had thus summarised the entire the episode.
Okay, so we know Strike Back is more eye candy than brain candy, but it just feels like the plot holes are expanding and multiplying. It’s high budget, action-packed, boys with toys playing wargames, and so on. And it’s not terribly interesting, no matter how lush Richard Armitage is. The script’s not exactly clever and it feels cliché-ridden (the thing where the nun says something along the lines of he’s come to help them, but she can’t figure out if that’s a good or a bad thing, or if Porter’s good or evil, something like that – dear, oh dear) and stereotype.
And I find Andrew Lincoln annoying. Is it him that’s annoying or just every bloody character he ever plays?! (This one, annoying. Edgar Linton ’09, annoying. That bloke he played in Afterlife, annoying – but then again, so was the woman, so maybe that one doesn’t count.)
Porter’s family life is brushed over so quickly all the time that it feels really unconvincing. They’re trying to show that Porter’s this troubled bloke with a messed up family life and all, but all they’re focusing their energy on is to show him being Action Man or G.I. Joe. While I certainly appreciate the number of times Porter flaunts his muscles (it keeps me awake, to be fair), I’m left wondering what Sky were thinking when they made it. There are a few funny lines in there, and when I say few, I mean “two” (roughly), and I can’t even remember them. For the testosteronies out there, there are soldiers and guns and shooting and blood and fighting and all that sort of testosterone-fuelled stuff. For the oestrogenies, there’s … well, there’s Richard Armitage with his top off being all heroic, but that’s about it. I want more! I want a proper story! Is it too much to ask? Have I been spoiled by Spooks so that I now demand an intelligent and coherent storyline and not just a bunch of guys running around shooting at each other?
So, what happened in episode four? Well, that’s what confuses me. I was actually paying attention to these episodes (unlike the first two), and there just seemed to be a lack of a plot in episode four. Generally speaking, I suppose the plot was that Porter and his jailbreak buddy were heading to a rendezvous point where they would be picked up, taught to whistle, knit a speedo, shave their legs (or armpits, hah!) or something like that. Whatever. On the way, they were being hunted by some Zimbabweans, one being an expert tracker who never spoke and instead just gazed at the horizon in a mysterious Spaghetti Western type way and occasionally pointed somewhere. Porter and Sidekick encountered a school, were Big Damn Heroes for a bit, sent the nun and the schoolchildren on their way to find safety in their army buddies’ camp and then the boys had a massive shoot-out with Friar Tuck and his army buddies.
Part four just seemed a bit dull, somehow. Maybe I’m just not the right target audience for this sort of thing. The whole soldier and shoot-’em-up storyline. Again, if it wasn’t for Richard Armitage, I’d be watching something else. Oh well. Sky have made another miniseries which will be airing soon, Discworld: Going Postal. I think it’s fair to say I’ll be enjoying that a lot more than I am Strike Back. With one major exception, obviously.