Sep 5, 2013

Tradecraft: Cinemax to Air Original UK Strike Back, Previously Unseen in U.S.

Deadline reports that Cinemax will finally provide American audiences with the opportunity to see the original UK season of the action spy series Strike Back, which aired there on the cable channel B Sky B. Sky's Strike Back (known in Britain as Chris Ryan's Strike Back) starred Richard Armitage (MI-5) and Andrew Lincoln as agents of MI6's elite, ultra-secret paramilitary unit Section 20. Cinemax liked the series and wanted to acquire it, co-producing subsequent seasons and broadcasting them in America. Unfortunately, by that time Armitage had been cast in The Hobbit and Lincoln had moved onto The Walking Dead, so the Cinemax version was recast and rebooted, focusing on two entirely new characters (Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton as Stonebridge and Scott) also recruited to work for Section 20. (Why there was no carryover in the office support staff I don't know.) While the first Stonebridge and Scott season aired as Season 2 of the series in Britain, Americans were introduced to it as a brand new series. On DVD, it was labelled "The First Cinemax Season" and American viewers never had the chance to see the real first season... until now! Starting October 25 in the regular Strike Back timeslot (following the conclusion of the third Cinemax season), the cabler will air the original UK series as Strike Back: Origins, billed as a "prequel." This is great news, because that first season with Armitage is really wonderful television. Seeing it first, in fact, I found it far superior to the Cinemax version (though a direct comparison is somewhat unfair, as the two versions are tonally pretty different). Now American audiences at large can finally be exposed to these six exciting episodes of espionage action. (And finally share the frustration UK viewers felt at Armitage's brief cameo in the first episode of the Cinemax series!) Hopefully this will also lead to a DVD and Blu-ray release for Strike Back: Origins down the road. It would be great if it also led to the current version of the show revisiting some of the characters from that first incarnation and tying up a few loose ends! (Hey, despite what we think we saw, anything can happen... right?)

Read my review of the UK Strike Back here.
Read my review of the US Strike Back here.

And here's Cinemax's trailer for the rebranded Strike Back: Origins:

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