HBO and Cinemax have produced some of the best shows in the history of television. Two of my favorites of Cinemax and in fact, of all TV shows of all time, were Banshee and Strike Back, both of which recently finished their final seasons. In honor of the end of these two phenomenal shows I thought we would take a look at their most recent seasons out now on DVD and Blu-ray, Banshee Season 3 (Season 4, the final season, is out later this year) and Strike Back Season 4, The Final Season.
Banshee is the tale of a career criminal who assumes the identity of Sheriff Hood in the small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. Now known to all as Hood (Antony Starr), he takes a liking to his new position yet continues his career in thievery with his cohorts Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic), Job (Hoon Lee) and new friend Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison). But he also has to contend with the local crime boss Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) as well as his fellow police officers all the while keeping his past a secret. In Season 3 Hood must come face to face with the leader of a new rebel leader in the Kinaho tribe, the fearsome and psychotic Chayton Littlestone (Geno Segers).
Strike Back is the story of Sgt. Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Sgt. Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), members of Section 20, an elite special ops branch of Britain’s MI6. In the final season Scott and Stonebridge find themselves globetrotting to find a terrorist charged with bombing an embassy. But their mission may reveal threats much closer to home as they use their specialized skills to save the world once more.
Banshee and Strike Back have much in common. They are both about flawed heroes who despite the world sometimes working against them, are out to do the right thing. They are also two shows that have featured the best action and fight sequences ever put to film, and I include feature films in that statement. The choreography in both shows is simply outstanding, visceral, kinetic and breathtaking. And the quality exceeds in every other area of both shows as well. Directing duties are not run of the mill but fluid and organic, and the casts of both shows are unparalleled both in starring roles and supporting roles.
The true sign of quality in both of these shows is that each progressive season is at least as good as the one before and in many cases even better. The quality never dips throughout each season maintaining such a high level of quality in every area that it almost seems impossible. And the lead actors are so good it seems they were born for the roles. Antony Starr in Banshee IS Sheriff Hood. All smoldering bad boy with a heart of gold and the ability to kick pretty much any ass. And in Strike Back, Winchester and Stapleton have such perfect screen chemistry they rival buddies as iconic as Mel Gibson and Danny Glover or Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. But take my word for it, Banshee and Strike Back are absolutely the best TV has to offer and you would be doing yourself a disservice by not checking them out. I couldn’t recommend them more.
A little side note, on each season of Banshee are short films called Banshee: Origins, which trace the history of many of the characters giving them even richer histories. This is such a vital special feature I wish all shows would come with them.