Written by TV

Strike Back: Project Dawn

I know, I know. You’ve been missing Ultimate Force. It ended its run in 2006, with Ross Kemp moving onto bigger things as he took on gangs for Sky One. In the meantime, if you wanted a military action adventure series set around the world, then you were left short.
Well Sky One is here to help you out with Strilke Back: Project Dawn. It’s a follow up to last year’s Strike Back. But if you missed that series (and despite a healthy advertising campaign supporting it, Sky did strangely “burn off” the six part series over three weeks) then there’s not a great deal to worry about. All you need to know is that all the cast are back with one major exception.Richard Armitage is otherwise engaged in bigger and better things these days – not least The Hobbit. So in the first episode he very quickly gets killed off by terrorists holding him as a hostage, while our heroes are heading out to fail to rescue him.
Strike Back is based on a sereis of novels by ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan. The unit this team comes from isn’t the SAS – so no sign of “Henno”. Indeed, “Section 20” seems to be based in the MI6 building if the establishing shots are to be believed. But it does have a healthy contingent of women, which I suspect is not actually true of our special forces. And they mostly operate in regular clothes, which is again useful, since one man or woman in full combat gear is much like any other.
As this series has been co-prodcued with HBO’s downmarket younger brother, Cinemax, then we get a “Dempsey”-style American co-star in Sullivan Stapleton. Nope – me neither. But he’s perfectly good as the ex-Delta Squad guy who was kicked out for unexplained means. In some cirlces Cinemax is known as “Skin-emax” for the station’s “erotic” fare. So in their first ever original series, they seem to have ensured that a decent quantity of “skin” – mostly female – is on show.
Ensuring there’s a decent quantity of nudity in the pilot episode of any new premium cable series seems to be par for the course, and despite the series being largely an action series, it doesn’t fail. There’s one laughable scene where the main British character’s wife literally undresses in front of her husband to “remind you what you’re missing.”
But what about the plot? Well it’s “ripped from the headlines” time as we get an opening two-parter set against a terrorist attack on an Indian hotel. Remind you of anything? Otheriwise there are evil Muslim terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction MacGuffins (Don’t worry – we get a speech from a captive who’s a Muslim and gets to explain that not all Muslims are evil in case we were a bit slow. And we get subtitles in the Impact font which is an unusual choice.
The series does have good production values, being made largely in South Africa, where they seemingly have Indian-styled hotels available for filming in. I’d imagine that the South African locale will also
Plenty of series are locating to South Africa for their seemingly rather good production incentives and cheap extras which keep costs down. Entertainingly though, the South African Government seems to insist on a disclaimer denying any responsibility for the plot. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we thought otherwise. I don’t believe the Isle of Man forces this on productions based there…
Elsewhere in the cast we have chisel-jawed Philip Winchester as Stonebridge, our main man. While back at base there’s Amanda Mealong as hard-nosed-women-in-charge and Eva Birtwhistle who gets to go on a few missions. Jimi Mistry also shows up for at least a couple of episodes. He doesn’t get to dance.
I know I sound a little disparaging, and this is by no means a great series. But it’s harmless enough stuff. And Sky/Cinemx/Left Bank are probably onto a good thing as this series clearly has vast international appeal if Ultimate Force was anything to go by. With a decent sized budget, this series will undoubtedly work in many territories. Expect to see it dubbed when you’re next in foreign climes.