We've seen the wonderful worlds of J.K. Rowling's imagination come to life beautifully on the big screen, but when it comes to the small screen, her worlds seem to get lost. The BBC's adaptation of Rowling's, under the pen name Robert Galbraith, Cormoran Strike crime novels lacks the style and intrigue of Rowling's words and instead is replaced with a lighter version of a dark tale. It's a good series, but it's just not great.
Lola Landry (Elarica Johnson), a world famous supermodel, is found dead in front of her posh apartment building. The verdict: suicide. But some strange circumstances surrounding her death lead some to think that suicide might not be the answer. Her brother, John Bristow (Leo Bill), reaches out to a private detective Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) to investigate her apparent suicide. When Strike and his new temp, Robin (Holliday Grainger), begin to look deeper into the case, they find that Lola might have been murdered after all.
Strike arose from great source material -- an intriguing plot with interesting and dynamic characters -- but what the show produced was almost like a cartoonish version of itself. One of the biggest problems of the show is its lack of a compelling and distinctive style. A show with this type of story (the mysterious murder of a beautiful supermodel, the secret dark underworld of celebrities, the traumatic past of the show's protagonist) deserves a style that is grim, dark, and brooding. Instead, we get a brightly lit, country music video style show. You can't help but to immediately think "blah." A stylish gray pallet would have at least made the show more pleasing to watch.
Strike also experienced some story problems when converting from book to screen. Ben Richard's adaptation suffers from some narrative issues, in particular, a lack of actual detective work being done. We are given a plethora of character development, pointless crime scene snooping, and Agatha Christie style "whodunnit" questioning, yet when it comes to actually doing any detective work (in the detective show), we are simply told vital case details (that appear to have come to Cormoran in a dream because how else would he know these things) rather than actually showing the clues unfolding. The audience is completely left out of the crime solving process, ruining the only interesting part of a crime solving program.
Strike redeems itself slightly with a few standout performances. Despite the productions obvious attempt to make him into a new Sherlock Holmes (that coat, though?), Tom Burke gives a great performance as the grumpy, miserable detective. He plays the character with ease and subtleness, which was a strong choice considering the extreme degree one could play this role. Tara Fitzgerald also gives a captivating performance as Tansy Bestigui. Her mysterious aura but soft eyes draw you in, making interested in her story. The rest of the cast, although, hold little to the show's bold lead. Many of the supporting cast play their roles to stereotypes, giving performances that are over the top and, at times, borderline Cluedo.
Strike is a passable show. It's not the worst detective show I've seen, but it also isn't the best. It doesn't hold up much against its source material, but a strong performance from Burke makes it interesting enough to watch if nothing else is on.