Banshee Season 1 catch-up
The great thing about cable shows is the enlightened production they get. Freed of network restrictions on content and given a certain latitude to build an audience on-screen and on disc and download, cable shows tend to be freer and more individual. Nudity is no longer a no-no, controversy is welcome and show-runners are positively encouraged to be brave and to make their shows gritty.Now, Banshee is the result of such freedom. On this preposterous show, flesh is pressed graphically, violence is extreme and, in terms of political correctness, we get Eastern European gangsters, Native American casino owners and even an Amish crime kingpin. Add in some very young teenage nudity, an ultra-camp computer boffin and much, much adultery and infidelity, and you start to get the picture with how free Banshee is.
Then you have to consider the rather ludicrous set-up of the show. Banshee is a town where the Sheriff is a recently released convict, murderer and jewel thief who delivers justice as he sees fit. He tortures suspects, murders kidnappers and in the first season's ultra bloody conclusion turns the town into a war-zone before going all "Wild Bunch" on his gangster friends. Now anyone with a spare moment may just wonder about how bonkers this is. A quiet sleepy town accepts a new sheriff with no real credentials who brings kidnappings, biker rampages and the mob to their doorsteps. His deputies see him as a good if unorthodox man, the mayor barely bats an eyelid when he loses evidence or single-handedly storms a siege, and his former girlfriend, a thief and daughter of the Mafia boss on his tail, can't help loving the rogue despite his mattress gymnastics with the towns womenfolk and his presence endangering her children.
Still, Banshee won't allow you that moment to prod and poke at its conceits and concept. Breathless murderous nonsense is followed by breathless sweaty sex and the talky bits lack any ponderous quality or length. Characters volte-face all the time, no one has the time to check out their new Sheriffs bona-fides in all the chaos that reigns...heck even the town's villain likes having this criminal lawman around. And do you know what, so do I. Banshee may be the show that logic and good taste forgot but after the processed sweetness of network TV, this show is a spicy palate cleanser. Sure it's boy's TV with the titillation gender split heavily biased to those wanting nubile women to gawk at, but it has not only taken the handbrake off but has also hot-wired the whole dramatic vehicle.
Season 1 concludes with our Sheriff having faced off the mob and survived by the skin off his teeth. Unfortunately, the FBI have finally started to get interested in a small town that has so much going on and they have discovered the graves he dug in acquiring his new identity. Season 1 had one bad episode where it imported Sons of Anarchy type bikers but the rest is breathtakingly intense and quite unlike anything else on TV. Intemperate, exploitative, cartoon-like and hugely unlikely, Banshee is must-see TV.
In the UK, Banshee is shown on Sky 1 and is downloadable on iTunes in the US. Season two begins very soon