The name J.K. Rowling conjures a few choice images. Rowling’s name will forever be associated with the great story of Harry Potter, and memories that stem from the various books, movies and even amusements parks based on the universe. The Harry Potter series made J.K. Rowling both a billionaire and a household name and, if her musings on Twitter show anything, she’s not abandoning the series anytime soon.
That being said, Rowling has not allowed her writing skills to be contained in the young adult fantasy genre. Using the pseudonym Robert Galbraith — presumably to let her writing speak for itself rather than her name — Rowling created a series of mystery novels centered around the brooding private investigator, Cormoran Strike.
Of course, even with a pseudonym, anything that comes from Rowling’s pen is sure to stir up publicity. With the help of BBC, Rowling’s mystery novels were transformed into a seven-part series titled “Strike.” The show has now made its way over to the States, premiering on Cinemax under the name “C.B. Strike.”
But don’t go running to your TVs and laptops to stream the new series just yet.
When a book is adapted to some other form of media, there are always going to be losses. If TV shows and movies included everything from the original book, they’d be painstakingly long and troublesome to watch. That being said, without the presence of Rowling’s imaginative voice and perfected tone, “C.B. Strike” becomes no more than an everyday mystery show, one that is often cliche and tedious to view.
The first mystery is broken into three episodes where Strike (Tom Burke, “War and Peace”) meets his new bright-eyed sidekick Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger, “Cinderella”). Along with the obvious connotation behind a sidekick named Robin, the PI and his female assistant have a very familiar dynamic. Strike is a lone-wolf detective with a drinking problem and a troubled past. Ellacott is blissfully ignorant, taking this job for the challenge and an active belief that she can break through her boss’s hardened exterior.
The duo’s first case revolves around the murder of a supermodel, but the episodes are not nearly as glamorous and intriguing as they could potentially be. While “C.B. Strike” may differentiate from cookie-cutter cop shows through beautiful, detailed cinematography, so much of the meat of the stories is left untold. This results in a show with a slow-moving and often empty plot, one that feels like it could be better wrapped up in one forty-five minute episode rather than three hour-long ones.
It appears that without Rowling’s name stuck on it, “C.B. Strike” would’ve never earned a TV slot in the UK, let alone in the States. Unless the rest of the series picks up from the dark, drab aesthetic of the first few episodes, you’re better off sticking with the novels or even an episode or two of “Law & Order” to get your mystery fix.