Banshee Season One Blu-ray Review
I guess men who get out of prison have a set list of things to do. First, you get a beer. Second, you get a woman (preferably the hot bartender so you actually kill two birds with one stone). And third, you get a job. At least this is what one man has in mind when he’s released after serving 15 years for a diamond robbery he committed. Step one and two come pretty easy. Step three…well, you’ll see.
A mini-movie in every episode, BANSHEE is a very adult series currently featured on the Cinemax cable network. The story concerns our recently paroled ex-con (Starr). Making his way to New York he finds himself targeted by Mr. Rabbit (a creepy Ben Cross), the boss he used to work for. Seems like our convict not only was stealing the above mentioned diamonds from Mr. Rabbit but he was also romancing the big man’s daughter (Milicevic). Making his way to the small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania, our main man stops into the local diner for a drink. Behind the bar is Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison), former boxing champion and fellow ex-con. Sitting at the bar is Lucas Hood, who informs the other two that he has just driven all the way from Oregon to assume the duties of town Sheriff. Two hoods enter the establishment and attempt to rob it. A shoot out occurs leaving the two baddies and the new Sheriff dead. Reacting as the only know how, the two ex-cons take the bodies out to the woods and buries them. The dead lawman’s cell phone rings and our mystery man answers it. It’s the mayor making sure the Sheriff will be in town tomorrow. He can’t wait to meet him. “I’ll be there,” says the newly minted Lucas Hood.
So sets up a show that, if you can suspend your disbelief on some plot points, is both hypnotic and entertaining. Seems the new Lucas Hood chose Banshee because that is where his former lover now lives, under a new name and happily married to the county prosecutor. Hubby has serious legal issues with Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), a former member of the Amish community who now runs the town, for better or worse. Think of him as a close cousin of Ben Gazarra’s character in ROADHOUSE. Though Kai has left his people he still follows some of their traditions. He dresses simply, buttons his shirt collar and makes sure that whatever woman he beds wears a bonnet. After being sworn in, Sheriff Hood becomes a one man wrecking crew. At a reception at Proctor’s estate he shoots and kills a man who had come to harm the host. He is also introduced to the DA and his wife, which makes for an uncomfortable scene for the missus, who instantly recognizes him. Hood is also made uncomfortable by the recurring dreams he has detailing the horrible ordeals he was put through in prison, courtesy of Mr. Rabbit. Still, for someone learning on the job, he’s not too bad. His fellow deputies don’t know what to think of him though they follow him into action, whether it’s busting up a rave or dealing with a motorcycle gang. Hood is also helped out by Job (Hoon Lee) a computer hacker extraordinaire whose cell ring tone is the theme from “The Birdcage.” The performances are solid all the way around and the characters, from the main ones to the smallest one-liner, are well developed.
Like I said you do have to suspend disbelief occasionally. For a man trying to be low key and keep off the radar, Hood has a tendency to let his anger make his decisions for him. When a woman is raped by a championship MMA fighter in town for a bout at the new casino, Hood decides to fight him before placing him under arrest. The fight is brutal with Hood dishing out some serious damage in front of a room full of people with cell phone cameras running. He ends up hooking up with the widow of the man he killed at Proctor’s party, kicked an entire motorcycle gang’s backsides single handed and, despite the fact that he’s now on the good side of the law, he continues to pull robberies. Hardly incognito I’d say.
But with those squabbles aside, if you like your action fast and furious, I’d definitely give “Banshee” a watch. The next season begins in 2014, which gives me about 5 months to convince my wife that we need to add Cinemax to our cable package!
BANSHEE SEASON ONE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. A production of HBO Films, the video quality is outstanding. The colors are bright and the picture is sharp.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the sound is clear and crisp. The sound is well mixed and the sound of bullets (a barrage in almost every episode) is never overwhelming.
Audio Commentaries: Six of the episodes come with commentaries featuring the show’s creators, directors and cast and cast members.
Inside the Title Sequence: Each episode begins with its own unique title sequence. This feature goes through each sequence and, when an image is highlighted, allows you to click on it. The significance of the image to the particular episode is explained.
Banshee Origins (34:27): In what I can only assume were teasers run on the network, this is a collection of thirteen short “prequels” that introduce the show. They last from between a minute to three minutes and introduce the story starting at “15 Years Ago” and ending with “Today.” A very clever device.
Comic Book: A graphic comic that gives the viewer a look into the man that will become Lucas Hood.
Town of Secrets (4:23): A short piece with the cast introducing the town of Banshee.
NYC Bus Crash (3:45): A short featurette detailing how a climactic bus crash in episode one was created.
Zooming In: Episodes 7 and 8 (3:38): Two very short “making of” pieces.
Revealing the Code (2:11): Each episode opens with the dial of a safe being turned. This feature unravels the code used.
Deleted Scenes (9:19): Four short scenes excised from three different episodes.
Season Two Teaser Trailer: What to look forward to next. Among the problems I see Hood facing: his MMA fight hits the internet and the real Lucas Hoods’ son makes a phone call.
My Blu-Ray package also came with a disc featuring the first two episodes of another Cinemax program entitled “Strike Back.”