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SHOW PATROL

'Strike Back: Origins' preview: Hey, isn't that Rick Grimes?

By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol

RedEye

7:29 PM CDT, October 24, 2013

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I imagine Stonebridge and Scott are finally finishing their motorcycle ride across the U.S. now that they've finished their latest mission.

Just because the boys and Cinemax's "Strike Back" are gone again until next year doesn't mean fans will have to miss all the military action completely. Cinemax is bringing us "Strike Back: Origins," the original British series that inspired the Stonebridge-Scott version we've enjoyed for three seasons.

It debuts at 9 p.m. CT Oct. 25 on Cinemax.

Originally titled "Chris Ryan's Strike Back," this six-episode season was based on the book series of the same name by former British Special Forces soldier Ryan. Dan Percival, the co-exec producer of the first Cinemax season of "Strike Back," was the key creator for the original series.

The season, which stars Andrew Lincoln before he played Rick Grimes in "The Walking Dead." It aired in Britain in 2010. Cinemax has titled the earlier season "Origins" because it really acts as a prequel to everything that has happened since. You may remember star Richard Armitage from his brief appearance as John Porter in the first Cinemax season of "Strike Back."

In the premiere, Special Air Service soldier Porter leads a dangerous mission into Iraq on the eve of the 2003 invasion by Allied Forces. Intelligence specialist Hugh Collinson (Lincoln) joins Porter's team to help extract an executive from a British arms manufacturer who is being held by fundamentalists.

Of course things go wrong. Porter is blamed and basically booted out of the service until, years later in 2010, he recognizes a terrorist in a news report about the kidnapping of British journalist Katie Dartmouth (Orla Brady) in Iraq. Seeing a chance to help Dartmouth and regain the military career he lost, he seeks out Collinson.

Collinson and Section 20 team members Layla Thompson (Jodhi May) and Danni Prendiville (Shelley Conn) have doubts about Porter. They shouldn't.

Colin Salmon ("Arrow") plays Section 20 overseer James Middleton. The episode was written by Jed Mercurio and directed by Daniel Percival.

These episodes bear only a few similarities to the show we've been watching in the U.S., which isn't a bad thing. The first two episodes feel more like a star vehicle for Armitage, which again isn't a bad thing. He's great in it. Check him out in the exclusive clip below, where Porter tries to get a job after being drummed out of the service. (Armitage was the first ever winner of RedEye's Best TV Character contest in the early 00s for his role as Guy of Gisbourne in "Robin Hood.")

The scope of the missions doesn't seem as large as in the Cinemax version, but the sacrifices these operatives make, the danger they put themselves in, the high stakes and stress of their jobs, is all here.

I've added the exclusive scene below, as well as a behind-the-scenes clip and another preview. At the top of the page are photos from the episode.

Let me know what you think after you watch.

Behind the scenes



Exclusive preview



And another preview




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