Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rich's Televisual Ramblings - Banshee

This column is going to be a regular feature in which I am going to explore some of my favourite TV. In this column I will discuss and hopefully promote TV which I think deserves attention and recognition. I am going to focus on the first episode and will try to avoid potential spoilers as I want you, the reader, to check out these series after you've finished reading.

For my first column I’m going to look at an American show called Banshee which first aired in the US on Cinemax and is a co-production between Your Face Goes Here Entertainment, Tropper Schickler Productions (the production company of the show’s creators, first timer show runners, Jonathon Tropper and David Shickler) and One Olive.

Banshee is the story of an ex-con who is released from prison after serving 15 years as the result of a botched diamond robbery. The main character real name is never revealed but he decides to assume the identity of the town’s new sheriff, Lucas Hood, after he witnesses the real man shot in a bar room brawl by some thugs and follows him in his role as the town's new sheriff and as he attempts to track down the woman he loves and the diamonds obtained in the heist.

One thing this show does brilliantly is three dimensional and fascinating characters. For example, did I mention that Kai Proctor, in addition to being the shows primary antagonist and a psychopath (well that’s to be expected right?), was raised and subsequently shunned from the local Amish community. This makes him perhaps television’s first and most probably only homicidal, Amish, criminal kingpin. Another character with an interesting backstory is Job, who besides being Lucas’ accomplice and friend, is actually a transvestite, computer hacker and hair stylist. Next season I've heard there going to introduce a character who in addition to being a Hell's Angel also has a penchant for wearing jodhpurs and  farms llamas. I’m being a little facetious now of course, but the point I’m making is that this show manages to create some of the most original characters I have seen in a long time and doesn't make them feel completely ridiculous.

The acting is also very adept from a cast who despite being relative unknowns have managed to turn in some very assured performances and in no place is this more evident than with the casting of the shows’ main character, Lucas Hood. The characterisation and acting by New Zealand actor Anthony Starr, who is perhaps best known for his role in The World’s Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins (which I’m sure most of you have in your DVD collections, right?), is excellent and, though played with an  intensity, is someone you want to truly succeed at every turn. Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen who plays Kai Proctor plays a character that is literally brimming with hatred and resentment as a result of being shunned by his family and this is channelled into his criminal dealings.

There are a lot of comparisons that can be drawn about this show. The first and perhaps most notable would be the 1997 Oliver Stone movie U-Turn which has the story of a man on the run who gets trapped in a small town and is surrounded by danger at every turn. The movie is produced by screenwriter Alan Ball who is notable for being the creator of Six Feet Under and writing both American Beauty and for True Blood. All of which can be seen as being heavily influential especially as they share some of the same raunchy elements with sex scenes being prevalent in all. 

Now just from that brief synopsis alone I’m sure you've already got some questions you want answering, Will he be able to keep up this charade? Will people discover his real identity? Will he find the diamonds? Will he be reunited with his former lover? Well you’re going to have to watch the show to find the answers to those, but what I can say is that these questions will create tension and plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Banshee can currently be seen in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 22:05.

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