Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Tom Burke, Holliday Grainger, Martin Shaw, Davis Avery, Leo Bill, Tara Fitzgerald, Kadiff Kirwan, Kerr Logan, Natasha O’Keeffe, Killian Scott, Bronson Webb, Elarica Johnson, Amber Anderson, Brian Bovell, Adelle Leonce, Kevin Fuller, Greg McKenzie, Jazz Cartier, Tezlym Senior-Sakutu, Suzanna Hamilton, Callie Coke, Sian Phillips.
There is always a detective waiting in the wings, a shadow waiting to emerge and be able to save the day with cunning, remarkable insight and the odd quirk to their name; in an age where television and arguably literature seems to have cornered every possible way to portray the down at heel gumshoe or detective with a flaw, along comes Cormoran Strike to add another dimension to the armchair detective’s televised alter ego.
In Tom Burke, television audiences have a sublimely gifted actor to whom the camera simply seems to worship, finally being the lead in a meaty detective story is perhaps long overdue, however on the back of popular and beautifully written productions such as The Musketeers, Utopia, and his appearance as Lt. Race in Poirot, it could have only been time for the actor to propel himself even further into the psyche of the television audiences and have the focus placed upon his engaging demeanour.
That is not to say the actor hogs the screen, in some productions it would be all too easy to focus the camera and the attention on the star, it is detrimental to the cast when such occurrences happen and is only a precursor to the show being short lived or derided as an ego trip; much against the actor’s will.
In Strike-The Cuckoo’s Calling, the sense of the story being very much a team effort is placed at the way Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger interact and seem at ease in each other’s company from the very first scene. It is also captured in the way that Ms. Grainger as Cormoran Strike’s initially temporary assistant is given focus as a well rounded character without having to go through the rigmarole of being second guessed and made allowances for.
With good old fashioned menace but with that sense of charm that Martin Shaw always seems to bring to any role, and Leo Bill adding extra friction to the storyline, Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s creation is one that arguably could be seen as dominating the television schedule and public conversation in the same way as Martin Shaw’s George Gently or the Inspector Morse family of detective’s has managed to do over the years.
A three part story which sits steadfastly at the heart of British crime dramas, one not hemmed in by the near sterility offered by American writers as they try to offer over slick and glossy, almost superficial ways of solving a murder case but instead is bordering on the Noir, on the sincerity of the genre. An extremely decent first outing for a new detective in town, one with his own demons to face; it will be fascinating to see how this series plays out.
Ian D. Hall