Military shows have almost always been a staple of our TV diet, from MASH to China Beach to Gomer Pyle and The Unit. Cinemax has now joined the party with an American version of a British show called Strike Back. Unlike most American counterparts to British shows, Strike Back actually bridges the gap by introducing the show with a storyline that involved a character from the British series.
Section 20 is a covert ops unit of British Intelligence. When a top ranked agent named Porter is assassinated by a terrorist named Latif, Section 20 must hunt down the elusive man and bring him to justice before he unleashed his master plan involving nuclear weapons. British sergeant Michael Stonebridge recruits help from Ex-Delta Force operative Damien Scott to find Latif, but the gruff American’s style is not something the elite British soldier is used to. Clashing on a personal level, Stonebridge and Scott soon find out they actually work very well together. Along with the rest of the Section 20 team, they must find and eliminate the terrorist threat before it is unleashed upon the unaware public.
When I popped in the first disc of Strike Back, at most I was expecting something along the lines of The Unit, a show I immensely enjoyed. But after watching the two part series opener, I found myself floored by the scope of the show and the balls with which it is executed. The first two episodes together are about feature length and stood up easily in quality with most action films I have seen. Excellent writing, amazing characters that you get instantly hooked on, and spectacular action sequences that stay exciting while remaining grounded in reality. The banter between the straight laced British agent and the rogue American soldier is hilarious and feels authentic. Strike Back carries the one story regarding the terrorist Latif throughout the first season and it is a fascinating and captivating storyline. The tension feels real, yet still retains a much bigger motion picture feel to the whole proceedings. Aside from the excellent production quality and writing, the two main characters of Stonebridge and Scott are the other reason to watch the show. Both actors, Philip Winchester who plays Stonebridge and Sullivan Stapleton as Scott as charismatic and riveting to watch. Like other cable shows like True Blood and Dexter, you can also look forward to huge amounts of carnage, blood, nudity and sex, Strike Back holds back on none of these. Cinemax has made a true fan of me; I am confirmed tuned in for Season Two.
The Blu-ray from HBO is spectacular. Like most HD cable shows, the transfer quality of the Blu-ray’s is amazing. Deep black levels, amazing clarity, minute detail and a booming soundtrack make Strike Back much more of a big budget Hollywood experience than a television one. Amazing production quality, great writing, great actors and characters, more action that you could ever want and an A+ Blu-ray transfer makes Strike Back your #1 TV on Blu-ray recommendation of the year.