JK Rowling’s life is sure to be the subject of investigation and analysis in the future. The writer is back in the front line with the premiere of Cormoran Strike, lethal target on HBO, the adaptation of ** one of her novels for the streaming channel. **
From being one of the most famous and beloved personalities on social media, 2020 made her one of the most hated. Rowling’s series of controversial comments posted on her Twitter account sparked a stir and later animosity among her fans. Even part of the cast of the Harry Potter film franchise distanced themselves from the author after she was accused of transphobic.
Of course, it is not a recent phenomenon. The author was involved in several complicated controversies during the last five years. Most striking was his attempt to make the Harry Potter series inclusive out of time. Without any previous indication, Rowling began to point out that her works they included characters of all ethnic, religious and even sexual orientations. It was a succession of uncomfortable data that raised critical voices immediately.
The controversial issues and ‘Cormoran Strike’
In 2007, when The Deathly Hallows had just been published, Rowling declared that the character Albus Dumbledore was gay. Until then there was not the slightest mention of the subject in the books or anywhere else. The data aroused controversy and enthusiasm among fans, who later felt betrayed when the revelation it had no real effect on canon. In 2016, the writer insisted that she never pointed out that Hermione Granger was white (which was denied by fans), in addition to adding that there were students of various religions at Hogwarts, information that had never been made public.
So the big question is whether Rowling can survive her debacle. Especially when the author it has not ceased to be at the center of the controversy. In September of last year, it was announced that Troubled Blood, the fifth part of his thriller series, would chronicle a series of murders committed by a man dressed as a woman. For much of the English public opinion it is just another way of affirming Rowling’s point of view on the transgender community. Again, there was a considerable scandal around the writing and his reputation was shaken again.
A phenomenon that lives off the success of ‘Harry Potter’
Perhaps for this reason, the arrival on HBO of the adaptation of the adventures of private detective Cormoran Strike is a way to understand the phenomenon of Rowling from its most adult angle. The first publication based on the character hit bookstore shelves in 2013. The book titled The Cuckoo’s Calling garnered mixed reviews and it was called a “poor attempt at an entertaining suspense thriller.” Despite the publisher’s attempts to conceal the identity of the author, it almost immediately emerged as Rowling’s second out-of-world work of Harry Potter. For better or for worse, the author’s still robust popularity pushed the book up the charts.
The following year, The Silkworm was published, an immediate continuation of the novel. Career of Evil followed in 2015, this time with moderate success. In 2017, the stories made the leap to television with the Strike series. an adaptation of BBC ONE that compiles the center of all the narratives around the strange detective Cormoran Strike. Finally, and with the fourth and fifth books published, the character achieved an HBO version that covers a quarter of the books. The second season reaches the giant in the middle of the uncomfortable controversy surrounding the writer. The show seeks to bring the story to a new audience and perhaps give JK Rowling’s work a new perspective.
‘Cormoran Strike’ falls short of expectations
It is a procedural that uses all the usual police plot twists, and that, unlike its British version, lacks enough personality to stand out. As in the longer version that tells the character’s story, HBO’s Cormoran Strike is a retired member of the Special Investigations section of the Royal Military Police, who lost a leg in Afghanistan. The experience gives you knowledge and an unusual research method. However, while in the homonymous English series there is a special attention to criminalistic details, the new version for a wider audience she’s more interested in the context of the character.
Strike is not just the sum of his tics and hobbies. Instead, the plot provides considerable space for the situations surrounding the private lives of its characters. For better or for worse, Rowling is a specialist in play with the background of narrative lines, and Strike is no exception. But what in the book is a fluid journey through intimate and complicated family relationships – the detective himself has a complicated backstory – on television has something little explored and incomplete.
Four episodes without depth
The four-episode format prevents the script from going deep enough into all the hints about what goes on around Strike. The narrative has a hasty air, which is also accentuated as what happens between the characters becomes more important than the crime to solve. Strike, and his relationship with those around him in a whole series of extravagant adventures, replaces the connection with the idea of the detective’s talent to solve crimes with strokes of intuition. If in the book, the conception about the qualities of Strike is much more finished, in the second season of the series on HBO is completely blurred.
Of course, the chemistry between Cormoran and his partner Robin Ellacott remains the cornerstone of everything that happens in the series. Already in past episodes, the argument had established that Ellacot would be the logical and sensible counterpart to Strike’s behavior. In the second season, the tension remains, although tinged in a unique way by what happens in Ellacot’s private life. The secretary who became the detective’s right-hand man marries, but the script clearly needs to show that this is not an enduring decision.
Again, the show configures the notion of two deeply wounded characters who must deal with situations that overwhelm them. And while the narrative is accelerated in favor of showing a greater physical attraction between Strike and Robin, the connotation of the relationship between the two is artificial and disappointing.
Neither book nor series
If the books have been criticized for their inability to recreate a solid atmosphere around Strike, their television version is even clumsier. By the fourth chapter it is evident that the unclear murder that moves the action it’s not as important as the chemistry between the detective duo. This despite the insinuations that it may be a parliamentary secret and high-level blackmail. But the structure of the series responds to other intentions. And it is that dichotomy (leading nowhere or satisfying in any way) that is the biggest problem in an ambitious plot with no real resolution.