Series Preview: Why You Should Give BANSHEE a Shot

     January 11, 2013

banshee antony starr

There are rare occasions when a new television show establishes itself so well and gives such a sense of purpose that you feel you’ve been with it all along.  Showtime’s Homeland was a fine example, with one of the best drama pilots I’ve ever come across.  But Banshee, the new drama from Cinemax, is a close contender.  It also has the surprising distinction, so far, of possibly being a contemporary heir-apparent to Deadwood.

The series comes from Alan Ball, who lest we forget, gave us American Beauty and Six Feet Under before he lost his way with True BloodBanshee is a callback, thankfully, to his earlier work, focusing on that familiar territory of the underbelly of a sleepy, small town.  The series’ title comes from the name of the town where the show is set, deep in rural Pennsylvania, in Amish country (or close to it).  But despite the rural setting, there is plenty going on.  Hit the jump for the specifics and more reasons to give this one a shot.

bansheeThe gist is this: a jewel thief (Antony Starr), once one of the most notorious in the country, has served his time and is freshly released from prison.  With the help of a friend from the underground, he goes after his old partner (Ivana Miličević) who possesses the bounty from the heist that got him sent to prison.  But it’s 15 years later, and the woman he once knew as Anna is now a respectable realtor named Carrie, who is married to the District Attorney and has two children.  But what of the diamonds from the heist?

Meanwhile, it just so happens (as is so often the case in dramas), that our jewel thief has come to town at the same time as the new Sheriff, but after some hullaballoo (which I won’t spoil), our protagonist assumes the identity of the Sheriff, Lucas Hood, and begins to settle into town.  Banshee so happens to also be terribly lawless (luckily), which the new Hood gets dragged into immediately, including being set up against the mob boss of the area, Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen).  However, there’s also an uber boss somewhere out there, known only as Mr. Rabbit (Ben Cross) who is still on the lookout for the pair (Carrie and Lucas) who conned him out of his diamonds fifteen years earlier.

antony starr bansheeThis doesn’t even begin to touch the sundry plots of Banshee (one of which features Frankie Faison, a fantastic Wire alum), but it sets up a nice foundation for the rest of the drama to build upon.  In just the first two episodes, so much is sprawled out in front of us that characters met in the pilot are nearly obsolete as we meet more and more secondary characters, who all deserve time and story (and get it, in the best of ways).

Back to the Deadwood comparison: a reluctant Sheriff with a questionable past is asked to take on the town kingpin in a lawless place filled with a lot of yahoos.  However, there’s also a smart and pretty lady he has feelings for, who happens to be taken.  There’s a friendly bartender who helps things lively, and plenty of sex and violence.  Sound familiar?

Actually, compared to some HBO fare (True Blood, Game of Thrones), Banshee is positively pious.  There’s a little humor in there too, but for the most part Banshee is straight up drama.  In addition to the confusing lives of the adults, there also seems to be a decent rebellious teenager subplot as well, handled just as knowingly and deftly as Claire’s from Six Feet Under.

Bottom line: Banshee is a great surprise on the winter TV docket, and absolutely worth the trouble of finding it to watch.

Banshee premieres Friday, January 11 at 10pm on Cinemax.

banshee banner antony starr

Around The Web
  • Scavenger

    Can’t wait to watch it. This one looks/sounds good to me.

  • Anonymus

    Looks like shit. Just like every other bullshit review by this website, sensationalizing shows and movies by drawing incredible weak comparisons to much better shows. You know nothing “about” Deadwood, apparently.

    Also, using pretentious words and phrases like “heir apparent,” “sundry,” “lest we forget,” etc., just go to show how uneducated and unsophisticated you really are.

    Please just present news or reviews, with your honest opinion, not pretentious backwash from better writers. And please, no more “oooh so cool, we knoooow you’ll enjoy” Mondo posters every few days. Even if they support your site.

    • REALLY?

      This guy is grumpy.

      But seriously, drawing comparisons to Deadwood seems like a stretch.

    • SevereDiarrhea

      shup up, you shit sipping hack

    • REALLY?

      ^ YA! What diarrhea said.

  • LEM

    So he was a notorious criminal, which by definition means widely known, yet he’s able to pretend to be someone else? It sounds far fetched unless this is set in a time before the digital age.

  • Cf

    Alan Ball’s an executive producer the show, he didn’t write the pilot or create the show, so it’s not necessarily “from him”… Even though the posters for the show say it’s “from the creator of True Blood,” that’s not true.

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  • sumit8510

    It seems like a good movie.

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  • margarita muniz

    I watched all three episodes and fell in love with this show. This is not a girly girl movie…..lot’s of action, violence and sex… everything you could ask for in a movie!!!!

  • Jon E Love

    All u people who sh*t on this show b4 even seeing it really missed out. Dumba*ses. Best new show on television since Homeland. It’s got everything: good story, good acting, sex/nudity, action/violence, love story, et al…. If you’re not watching Banshee then you missed out. Suckas.

    PS: It has in common w/Deadwood exactly what the writer pointed out w/Deadwood….all spot on, even though they’re totally different shows. That said, some of you people need to settle down.

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