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

Latest News

A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS Trailer Features a Sad, Antlered Bill Murray

Sofia Coppola directed the Netflix special, which will also star George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman, and more.

Brad Bird Talks TOMORROWLAND, Why He Passed on STAR WARS, THE INCREDIBLES 2 and More

He also talks about potential plans for Blu-ray and theatrical re-releases for 'The Iron Giant'.

Ethan Hawke Talks GOOD KILL, Working at Burger King and More

He also reveals one very important thing director Andrew Niccol learned to do since they made 'Gattaca' together.

Watch GAME OF THRONES: THE MUSICAL Starring Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, and More

The 'Game of Thrones' cast and Coldplay got together to create a 12-minute sketch to raise money for Red Nose Day.

First MACBETH Clips Show a Highly Stylized War and Coronation

Justin Kurzel’s adaptation takes place in 11th century Scotland and stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

KNOCK KNOCK: Keanu Reeves Gets Tortured By Sexy Psychopaths in New Trailer

Eli Roth's latest film stars Keanu Reeves as a good guy who does a bad thing...and pays for it dearly.

Paramount’s WORLD WAR Z Sequel Gets a Summer 2017 Release Date

'The Impossible' helmer J.A. Bayona will direct the sequel from a script by Steven Knight with Brad Pitt returning in the lead role.

Reese Witherspoon to Play Tinkerbell in Live-Action Disney Movie

Disney will not stop until every single one of its animated classics has a live-action reboot.

Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt Talk POLTERGEIST and Why Clowns Are So Horrifying

They also talk about memorable moments from filming and what they liked about the script.

Daredevil Season 1 Finale Recap: “Daredevil”

The first season of 'Daredevil' comes to a close as Matt Murdock earns his horns!

Page 1 of 3,96012345...102030...Last »