Strike on Screen: Where’s the Charisma?

cormoran strike

The Silkworm, the BBC adaptation of J.K Rowling’s novel of the same name, has just finished, although perhaps not in the blaze of glory that viewers expected. More like a fizzle of fast running before the killer, who had barely appeared previously, was finally caught in quiet possibly the lamest struggle in the history of action scenes.

I have already mentioned in my previous review of the TV show, that the books, although interesting, witty and adventurous, are also widely inconsistent and, at times, highly unbelievable. The TV series embraces both these qualities, whilst at the time offering us a protagonist who is about as charismatic as a dead fish.

Tom Burke is a solid actor, but his Cormoran Strike is dull and uninspiring. Despite the sharp lines he has as the one-legged solider turned private detective, his delivery is strangely monotonous. In the final episode, his portrayal of a man with one leg improves vastly as he is shown limping across the road after his glamorous assistant, who is chasing the unconvincing villain of the piece, a literary agent embroiled in a very long-winded revenge plot. That is perhaps the only saving grace to the show, which has gone on for far too long (and there was only two episodes The Silkworm, which accompany the three of the adaptation of Rowling’s first Strike novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling).

Both adaptations were identical representations of the novels on which they are based, but this does not excuse the poor acting and casting. Burke, despite his stilted dialogue delivery, is a good choice for the foul-mouthed, large framed detective, but Holliday Grainger is a poor selection for Strike’s capable and empathetic assistant Robin Ellacott. She is too glamorous, which works well during the scene where the pair visit a literary party, but looks out of place in the homely setting of her partner’s parent’s house, or even in her employer’s gloomy office. Grainger seems to know this herself, and wears a bemused expression in almost every scene bar those in which she is allowed to wear her glad rags.

Overall, I was not entirely impressed by the visual depiction of the Strike novels, although they do capture some of the craziness that Rowling’s novels have to offer. There is something great about the way the books feel like those real life situations that are so weird that you only believe them because you have actually experienced them yourself. The TV series also encapsulates this, embracing the unusual names, bizarre situations and outrageous settings of Rowling’s London with ease. However, the wooden detective, his beautiful but out of place assistant and the unfrightening villains they chase all conspire to make the series less than enticing.

At the end of the final episode, the announcer stated that the adaptation of Career of Evil, the third novel in the series, will be shown sometime next year. A hard core Crime Fiction fan who has followed Strike ever since Rowling was first unmasked (deliberately, in one of the worst attempts at hiding the truth I have seen in years) as the writer of the series, I will of course be watching- if you’re not a fan and you didn’t catch all of the rest, I really wouldn’t bother.

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