Review: “Strike” Episode 1 is the Perfect Adaptation

Are you excited for the new Strike series?

We certainly are, so we were thrilled to attend BFI’s preview event this week to watch the first episode!

Strike is the adaptation of Robert Galbraith‘s Cormoran Strike series, the detective novels penned by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym. The show will be broadcast as three mini-series tie-ins on BBC One in the UK and later on HBO in the US. The first of these series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, has three episodes, with the first episode airing later this month!

The adaptation is incredibly loyal to the book, with both Cormoran Strike, played by Tom Burke, and Robin Ellacott, played by Holliday Grainger, perfectly cast. The two are lovely together, and you understand from the first time they meet what they see in each other. They effortlessly fit into a rhythm that feels as if they’ve been life-long partners – despite it being the first episode. The best moments are simply the two of them working together on the case.

The biggest departure from the book is the removal of some of the characters, something that the creative team did to simplify the first episode. However, the essence of the story isn’t lost, and it still promises to be the same brilliantly twisted crime drama the book provided. The show was also almost entirely shot in London – the city so beautifully portrayed in the books is captured brilliantly on-screen and in the actual locations described. You get to see the hustle and bustle of the world Strike and Robin operate in, giving the show a more realistic feeling.

The show manages to have a perfect mix of focus and lightheartedness, with small, brilliantly funny moments mixed in with the drama you’d expect. It also manages to avoid the common trope of the detective becoming an almost inhuman character – you see nearly as much of Strike’s private life as you do of the case. Overall, the feel of the show is quite different from that of other detective series, separating the show from your typical procedural crime drama. The three-episode story arch definitely leaves plenty of room for a slow build on the story, enough that you really get a chance to savor the characters’ relationships while also having enough time to process the clues as they are revealed.

Be sure to watch Strike later this month on BBC One and check back later for our interviews with Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger from the preview event.