Your weekly streaming pick is here! I was on the fence with this one for a few weeks. But the show won me over in a lot of ways. Banshee was a Cinemax original and the first two seasons are currently streaming on Amazon Prime. The rest can be seen with a free trial of Cinemax channels. Breaking the show up this way makes a lot of sense though, more on that as we go.
Banshee follows an ex-con into a small Pennsylvania town. A series of escalating circumstances lead the man to take over the identity of the new sheriff to tie up some loose ends of his own.
An interesting premise for sure, Banshee spins a lot of yarns as the story unfolds. Many of the story elements are over the top, but there is enough intrigue to keep you hooked. A former member of the local Amish community is now the biggest crime lord in the town? Biker gangs, white supremacists, militant Native American groups, rogue military factions… these are just SOME of the adversaries audiences get in a mere 38 total episodes of the series.
The fight scenes are pretty spectacular for TV. When I say spectacular I mean that in a couple different ways. Yes, they are pretty well done, and pretty dynamic, especially given the show is now six years old. Six years doesn’t seem like a long time but TV has been ramping up hard in past years. Just as many fight moments are well done, are also over the top ridiculous. Kung-Fu sheriff walks through town kicking people in the throat and breaking all sorts of laws on assault. In every single episode.
The gun play fluctuates just as heavily as the hand to hand combat. In one scene our heroic(?) sheriff can’t shoot a stationary adversary across a room and the very next he hangs out backwards and upside down from a moving car and blows out the front tire of ANOTHER moving car behind them!? It’s amazing.
The first two seasons are currently streaming on Amazon Prime
The first two seasons of the show are akin to fast food. You know it isn’t necessarily good. You know there are better options. But it’s there, and it’s great in the moment. The show feels like a group of promising amatures got together on a very solid first project.
With over the top stories and action we get a cast of actors that are actually not bad. They have to deal with some clunky writing and some of the emotions are forced because of uneven story telling, but they do a solid job holding everything together. Keep an eye on Hoon Lee as Job, he’s the strongest actor in the cast and steals every scene he’s in.
It’s also a good time to mention that Antony Starr who plays the ex-con, ex-military, fake sheriff is the same actor who portrays Homelander so perfectly in The Boys.
I’ve been a bit harsh up to this point. You may be asking, ‘why is this the week’s recommendation is the series is only so-so?’
The things I’m knocking the show for have a way of making it more fun. It’s easy to quip about some of the more outlandish or silly elements. But they get better as the show goes. The actors fall into their characters and the crew behind the scenes really gets a handle on things.
The strange experimental cutting that is so prevalent in season one takes a back seat in season two. Seasons three and four have a totally new, more refined, feel to them. The long uncomfortable, anything but sexy, sex scenes the first two seasons lean on are also all but gone by the time season three rolls around. Even the predictability of the show takes a step back as we get along in the journey.
The above reasons are exactly why having the first two seasons readily available and the second two requiring an extra step doesn’t feel so strange. It’s also far from a deal breaker to simply do a free trial or even spend ten bucks on a single month subscription to give this show the time it needed to tell the full story.
If you feel I’m still being too harsh about the creators and how they come into their own as the series progresses, just verify it on IMDB. Jonathan Tropper started with Banshee and moved on to other projects. His partner, David Schickler’s entire resume is Banshee.
I know this write up was a little tongue-in-cheek at times and maybe I didn’t give the show the hard sell. There’s nothing wrong with watching a series that’s ‘good enough’ and evolves into something pretty great. It’s enjoyable all the way through. If you need a little more convincing there’s plenty of violence and nudity. Some of that nudity you’ll even enjoy seeing!