TV episode review: Strike Back: Project Dawn, episode 1 (2011), directed by Daniel Percival
So, Strike Back has returned to UK’s Sky One. Together with US channel Cinemax, we get an even more macho version of something so testosterone fuelled to begin with that I almost feel a penis starting to sprout from my nether regions. Ugh. I wasn’t keen on this show to begin with, but as it starred Richard Armitage, I bit the bullet and watched it anyway. He got his top off a lot, and even went full monty at one point, so all in all, it was worth watching. Of sorts. Toby Stephens showed up in a suit too, which was also very much appreciated.
So what about series two? It starts out with a scruffy John Porter (Richard Armitage) who has been captured by a group of Muslim terrorists. He gets to record a message and a hunky Philip Winchester with a British accent (not that I’ve ever heard him with any other), who goes to get an American pal of Porter’s. American dude (Sullivan Stapleton), while hunky too, is a sleazy womaniser. And the rest of the one-hour episode was about how they were tracking down a terrorist leader in an Indian hotel, which they found through encoded clues left by Porter. Shootings ensue. And hostages. And womanising. And oh so predictable “wait, YOU’RE the bad guy we’re looking for?! Cor blimey, who’d a-thought it? You seemed like a jolly nice fellow!”
How impressed was I by this episode? I wasn’t. Obviously.
Sex for the sake of it, boys with guns, same old, same old. The only redeeming features were the two starring hunks being hunky, brief glimpses of Richard Armitage (only like two minutes total) and the fact that made me go “oooooh!” at the very start: it was written by Frank Spotnitz. As an old X-Phile, that’s a name I’ve come to know and respect. He used to work on The X-Files back in the day. Biggest squeeeeee moment – after seeing and hearing Porter – was when the hunks checked in to the hotel … as “Mr Byers” and “Mr Langley”. Took me a couple of seconds to realise, but then I was happy for the rest of the episode, listening out for the mention of a “Mr Frohike” too. Never came, but still. Just one nerd short of the Lone Gunmen, and for that, I salute the writer.
But that’s it. Just because they’ve slapped a “Project Dawn” on the end doesn’t mean Strike Back has evolved from machismofest. It still is, but now it has genuine Americans in it. Big deal. And the cipher didn’t make sense. Nor was it worth our whiles as fans of the Armitage either. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean, aside from how brief his appearance was. No fair. At least he was on screen slightly longer in Captain America … which I’d much rather be watching.
1.5 out of 5 besieged hotels, which it only gets for Spotnitz and his X-Files reference. But at least I don’t have to watch the rest of the series, as the incentive has gone away.