HBO and Showtime are the top of the food chain for television programming for a reason. For a long time now they have consistently been cranking out high quality shows with high production values and the kind of adult content that people have been craving and unable to get on regular network television. Networks in fact have starting tailoring their shows to be more like the styles shown on HBO, but most of the time they fail to capture that same magic. One of their newest shows is Banshee from producer Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) and its first season is out this week.
An ex-con and master thief (Antony Starr) assumes the identity of a newly arriving sheriff named Lucas Hood in the small Amish town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. Hood seems unable to shake his past, with his former partner (Ivana Milicevic) now living in Banshee under a new name with a new family and the crime boss he betrayed (Ben Cross) and stole from looking everywhere for him. And Banshee has its own secrets as well; it’s just a matter of how long Hood can keep his secrets quiet while managing to keep the peace and his own head.
I was initially drawn to Banshee by Alan Ball’s name being involved, but by the second episode I was so hooked by this badass show. And I do not use the term badass lightly here. Everyone in the town of Banshee has their own demons and with ex-con Lucas Hood as their unorthodox sheriff, the town becomes a powder keg ready to blow. The writing here is phenomenal as are the excellent production values. You get intrigue, humor, great action, intricate relationships and lots of double crossing. But for me the real heart of the show is the amazing characters starting with Starr as the faux Sheriff Hood. Starr just oozes charisma and danger and he uses it all well as Hood. He is the ultimate underdog anti-hero and is just spectacular. The entire supporting cast couldn’t be better if they tried. Ivana Milicevic as the former partner in crime who now is constantly pulled between her old life and new life, Ulrich Thomsen as the former Amish who now runs the town with an iron fist is sympathetic and likable while maintaining a real sense of menace, the fabulous Frankie Faison as the ex-con bar owner who knows some of Hood’s secrets but befriends him regardless, and Hoon Lee as the transgender hacker extraordinaire from Hoods past. This is simply one of the most addictive and hardcore shows I have seen in a long time and I highly recommend it. This one is well worth the purchase price.
The Blu-ray set from HBO is exactly what we have come to expect from them: pretty much perfect. The show is very dark is content and visually, but HBO has handled the transfer perfectly with balances light and dark, excellent clarity and detail and a nice clean soundtrack. This is one of the best shows on TV and worthy of returning to even once you have seen it. Alan Ball does it again…
Available Now on Blu-ray and DVD.