January 20, 2013



BANSHEE:  Friday 10PM on Cinemax

Previously… on BANSHEE:  Through a series of coincidences not worth recounting, an ex-con (Antony Starr) has taken on the identity of Lucas Hood, who was killed on his way to becoming the new sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania, a small town rich in Pennsylvania Dutch culture and crime.  It also happens to be the town where his ex, now living as Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic), is married to the local District Attorney with their two children, including rebellious daughter Deva (Ryann Shane), who “Lucas” suspects is actually his own.  “Carrie” may still have the diamonds the two of them stole from Mr Rabbit (Ben Cross) in the robbery that got Lucas arrested; Rabbit is hot on the trail of the man now known as Lucas Hood.  Meanwhile, there’s plenty to occupy the sheriff in Banshee, especially the comprehensive crime ring run by local butcher (in more ways than one) Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomson).

Episode 2:  There wasn’t much effort to move the pieces of Banshee forward in its second hour, written by series creators Jonathan Tropper and David Strickler, and directed by SJ Clarkson.  Some mentions of Rabbit and very fleeting flashbacks to Lucas’ original arrest, a couple of brief appearances by Kai, and an abortive attempt by Lucas to resume his relationship with Carrie (she clocked him) aside, mostly the episode was the Cinemax version (i.e., there was a completely gratuitous sex scene) of a procedural.  The hour centered in a rave that one of Kai’s minions was holding in a local barn, against Kai’s rules about shitting where one eats–and even worse, with tainted Ecstasy on sale that had fatal effects.  Since Deva was at the rave, it provided Lucas with an opportunity to bond with his presumed daughter, but most of the rest was standard cop stuff, with Lucas of course breaking all constitutional rules since he’s not really a cop.

After the tortuous, painstaking efforts the pilot made to set up the elements of Banshee, it was something of a comedown to see the show play out as a more violent, adult version of a CBS series.  It’s too soon in the show’s run to tell whether this will be its predominant style, or if it intends to tell a more cohesive story as the season moves on, but there was nothing very special or distinctive about this hour.  Lucas’s main strength as a reluctant lawman seems to be his willingness to punch just about anyone, and in the world of TV cops, that’s not particularly unusual.  (When other members of the force, especially Matt Servitto as Officer Brock Lotus, express shock at his fisticuffs, one wants to ask if they’ve ever seen The French ConnectionDirty Harry or any of the 40 years of tough cops that have followed them.)  Starr, in the lead, is a perfectly adequate action star, but so far isn’t putting any unexpected layers of Lucas on display.

Banshee got off to an OK but unimpressive start in the ratings last week, better than the canceled Hunted but still watched by only around half a million people in its initial airing–and the old saw that “ratings don’t count” for paycable works only for shows that generate buzz in other ways, which seems unlikely for the very conventional Banshee.  Still, with producers like Alan Ball and the novelists Tropper and Strickler behind the scenes, one assumes that there must be more to Banshee than there appears to be at the moment, earning the show a bit more patience on slow Friday nights.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."