Review “Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling”by Caroline Dorigon
Strike, a TV series based on J.K. Rowling’s detective novels under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, premieres this Sunday, 27, in the United Kingdom. Invited by the BBC, Potterish has already watched the first episode. To read our spoiler-free review, see the extension of this post.
Reviewed by Lara Mendonça
With the adaptation of her crime novels, J.K. Rowling becomes part of the select group of British authors who had all of their novels adapted for TV or cinema, along with Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
Belonging to the same broadcaster as Sherlock, Strike has seven episodes, split between the three books published so far – The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm and Career of Evil. With three episodes for the first title and two for each of the following, judging by the first episode, the viewer will not miss anything if watching the series before reading the books. All the important details, especially the plot that is developed quietly among the novels, have been present since the first scene.
Although the story takes place in the present time, the production’s aesthetic choices make Strike almost timeless. With contemporary elements (iPhones) added to details that would perfectly fit a Sherlock Holmes’ adaptation, Strike has such a particular aesthetic that it’s impossible to mistake it for any other series.
In Rowling’s book, Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke) is a private detective who (almost) earns his living chasing unfaithful husbands and investigating small cases, until a new client hires him to investigate the death of a famous model, Lula Landry, believing that it was murder rather than suicide, as defined by the police.
Strike fits the archetype of the mysterious detective, which takes the series out of the shadow of its famous predecessors. He hides from the audience important personality traits until it is the perfect moment to reveal them, making him a charming and warm character.
But Strike is not the only one to break the genre’s paradigms. Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger), his secretary, represents the classic role of sidekick (Dr. Watson de Holmes), which is usually given to male characters. The series makes sure to show all of Robin’s femininity, without letting her become a cliché; quite the opposite: Robin is a complex character, with a strong personality, that captivates instantly, besides being as a spectator’s guide through the plot.
The success of this first episode is due mostly to the cast, which was handpicked by the production and by J.K. Rowling herself. Just like in Harry Potter, the author was very specific about her view of the characters, and the result is visible. The script has nothing forced about it and its rhythm resembles very much the writing of the books: electrifying. The premiere happens on primetime of a bank holiday in the UK, hours before Game of Thrones, Strike has everything to be a success.
Note: In the United States, there is no date set for the series to premiere.