Banshee, Sky Atlantic, starring Antony Starr PREVIEW

Banshee with Antony Starr
Antony Starr as ‘Lucas Hood’, an ex-con on the run again

Rating: ★★★★

Sky Atlantic: starts Monday, 29 April, 10pm

Story: In a small Amish town in Pennsylvania, a recently released convict on the run from a mob he once double-crossed, takes over the identity of a new sheriff.

Ivana Milicevic in Banshee
Realtor with attitude – Carrie

Banshee bursts onto the screen in a rush of speeding cars, gunfire and desperate sex. It’s an adrenaline-driven, action-packed series from HBO-owned Cinemax, another of the US subscription channels churning all the most interesting series on TV right now.

Like those edgy epics Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy, Banshee is all about the bad guys, in particular an ex-con just out after serving 15 years for robbery.

The series’ knockout twist is that our reckless ex-con – whose name we never learn – impulsively decides to take on the identity of a new small-town sheriff who is killed in a barroom brawl just before taking office. The con is now Lucas Hood and the town is Banshee, an Amish community in Pennsylvania.

Anastasia and Mr Rabbit
From the moment he steps out of prison, our anti-hero is dodging bullets and speeding cars – but not dangerous women. But he is really interested in only one woman, Anatasia, his accomplice/lover with whom he tried to rip off Mr Rabbit, a Ukrainian crime lord who is still after him.

With the help of Job, a transvestite hacker and hairdresser – we’re a long way from Miss Marple here –the ex-con has tracked Anastasia down to Banshee (well named – in Irish mythology, of course, that’s the female spirit who could foretell death). Turns out that whatever she feels for our guy, Anastasia is now called Carrie and has a new life as a wife, mother and real estate agent. As for the $10million in diamonds they stole together, these were subsequently stolen from her.

Ulrich Thomsen in Banshee
Falling short of Mr Proctor’s expectations 

Banshee has echoes of that other terrific crime series currently showing, Justified, with its small town setting and gallery of lurid psychos. The Amish town is run by Kai Proctor, who makes Don Corleone look like a Buddhist. He feeds the fingers of an underling to his vicious dog, or beats the teeth out of another at his meat factory.

Frankie Faison in Banshee
Barman and champ Sugar Bates

Frankie Faison, Ben Cross and Ivana Milicevic
He is used to having the town sheriff in his pocket, but clearly Hood is no ordinary lawman. Hood also rubs some of his fellow cops up the wrong way, particularly Brock Lotus, who wanted the sheriff’s job himself and can’t stand the new guy’s violent, unorthodox methods.

With Carrie staring daggers and Mr Rabbit on Hood’s trail, Banshee is ripe with explosive storylines. The relatively unknown New Zealander Antony Starr is certainly rugged enough as the tough guy Hood, while Ulrich Thomsen oozes menace as Proctor.

Frankie Faison is great fun as Sugar Bates, the town bar owner and ally of Hood’s. When Hood tells him he’ll never go back to jail, Sugar says, ‘You’ve got a revolutionary way of going about it’ – meaning impersonating a sheriff.

Sexy and formidable
Ben Cross appears as Mr Rabbit, and Ivana Milicevic is sexy and formidable as Carrie. With Oscar/Emmy/Golden Globe winner Alan Ball (True Blood, Six Feet Under, American Beauty) among its executive producers, Banshee is taut and pulpy and has already been renewed for a second series.

Cast: Antony Starr Lucas Hood, Ivana Milicevic Carrie Hopewell, Rus Blackwell Gordon Hopewell, Matt Servitto Brock Lotus, Trieste Kelly Dunn Siobhan Kelly, Ryann Shane Deva Hopewell, Frankie Faison Sugar Bates, Demetrius Grosse Emmett Yawners, Hoon Lee Job, Matthew Rauch Burton, Gabriel Suttle Max Hopewell, Ulrich Thomsen Kai Proctor, Lili Simmons Rebecca Bowman, Daniel Ross Owens Dan Kendall, Ben Cross Mr Rabbit, Deja Dee Alma, Steve Coulter Elijah Bowman, Stevie Ray Dallimore Gregor, Joseph Meissner Mikhail

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  1. I’ll give that a gander.

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