Banshee (TV series)
Banshee title card
|Created by||Jonathan Tropper
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||30 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jonathan Tropper
|Location(s)||Charlotte, North Carolina (Season 1-3)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Season 4)
|Running time||43–59 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Your Face Goes Here Entertainment
Tropper Schickler Productions
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||January 11, 2013– present|
Banshee is an American action-drama television series created by Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler originally appearing on the Cinemax network beginning on January 11, 2013. Set in the small town of Banshee in Pennsylvania Amish country, the series' main character is an enigmatic ex-con (Antony Starr), who assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, the town's murdered sheriff, to hide from powerful crime lord Rabbit (Ben Cross). Imposing his own brand of justice, Hood attempts to reconcile with his former lover, Rabbit's daughter, Anastasia (Ivana Miličević), who has herself adopted an assumed identity, married, and raised a family during Hood's incarceration. Hood struggles to maintain his new identity while still embracing crime alongside his partners Job (Hoon Lee) and Sugar (Frankie Faison), and coming into conflict with local kingpin Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen).
The series was developed as part of Cinemax's drive to develop original content. A 10-episode second season debuted in January 2014. Banshee was renewed for a third season that same month. In February 2015, the series was renewed for an 8-episode fourth season.
Banshee is set in the fictional small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. The series is based around an unnamed protagonist, who spent 15 years in prison after stealing $10 million in diamonds from his employer, Rabbit, a Ukrainian mob boss. Upon leaving prison, the protagonist realizes that Rabbit is still after him, and he escapes to a small town called Banshee. This is also the town in which he believes his former lover and accomplice, Anastasia, resides; she is also hiding from Rabbit, who is her father. She has also assumed a new identity, "Carrie Hopewell", is married and has two children. In an attempt to start a new life, the protagonist assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, a police officer, and becomes the town sheriff. Banshee sees Hood struggle with adapting to his new identity while dealing with the machinations of local crime lord Kai Proctor, piecing together his relationship with Anastasia, and remaining hidden from Rabbit.
Season 1 focuses on Hood's attempts to restore his relationship with Carrie under the looming threat of Rabbit eventually finding them both. Hood quickly earns a reputation for himself as he does the job his own way, instead of following the rules. His deputies are increasingly suspicious of him, and he is constantly at odds with local businessman Kai Proctor, and eventually gains the interest of the FBI. Eventually his well-earned reputation leads Rabbit to Banshee. Hood gives himself up to Rabbit in the hopes that Rabbit will leave Carrie alone. However, he is saved by Carrie, his deputies and two of his criminal accomplices. Carrie shoots and seemingly kills Rabbit, but during a later investigation his body is not found. The season ends with the original Hood's son learning of his father's replacement by an impostor, Kai killing the town mayor, and the discovery of the real Lucas Hood's corpse.
Season 2 places a larger focus on the Native American tribes and reservations in the town, including the tribal chief Alex Longshadow, whose attempts to build a casino and compete for power with Proctor draw the pair into a bloody conflict. Carrie is imprisoned for her role in the shootout that liberated Hood, and her past is publicly revealed, devastating her family and professional life. Hood and his deputies are put on probation for their involvement, but they are allowed to continue their duties. Hood, accepting that Carrie has focused on her family, enters into a relationship with his deputy Siobhan. The real Lucas Hood's son Jason arrives in Banshee, aware of the impostor Hood's identity theft. Hood helps the troubled Jason find a new life, but Proctor kills Jason for sleeping with his niece Rebecca, reigniting the conflict between Hood and Proctor. Proctor is eventually imprisoned based on Hood's illegal investigation, but freed when Longshadow, providing information to the police to keep Proctor locked away, is murdered by Rebecca. Meanwhile, upon learning that Rabbit is alive, Hood and Carrie track and confront him. They give him a gun and single bullet, which he uses to commit suicide. The season ends with Chayton Littlestone, the leader of the Indian Kinaho tribe, being informed of Longshadow's death.
- Antony Starr as Lucas Hood: An ex-con and master thief released from prison after 15 years who adopts the identity of Banshee's deceased incoming sheriff. His real name is currently unknown.
- Ivana Miličević as Anastasia / Carrie Hopewell: Hood's former criminal accomplice and lover. She lives in Banshee under an alias as a real estate agent with her husband Gordon and children Deva and Max, who are unaware of her past. She is also in hiding from Rabbit, her father.
- Ulrich Thomsen as Kai Proctor: A crime kingpin and businessman in Banshee. Proctor was originally a member of Banshee's Amish community, but abandoned the faith for crime.
- Frankie Faison as Sugar Bates: A retired former boxer and ex-con, turned bar owner. He befriends Hood and is aware that he is a criminal.
- Hoon Lee as Job: A computer hacker and Hood's criminal accomplice. Job is a transvestite. He is also in hiding from Rabbit, and is forced to move to Banshee after his identity is uncovered.
- Rus Blackwell as Gordon Hopewell (season 1–3): Banshee's district attorney and Carrie's husband. He is a Gulf War hero and retired Marine.
- Matt Servitto as Brock Lotus: A Banshee deputy, and the longest-serving member of the force. Brock was intended to become the new Sheriff before the real Hood's appointment and is resentful of being passed over.
- Demetrius Grosse as Emmett Yawners (season 1–2): An African-American Banshee deputy.
- Trieste Kelly Dunn as Siobhan Kelly (season 1–3): A female Banshee deputy.
- Ryann Shane as Deva Hopewell: A rebellious teenager. Deva is Carrie and Lucas' daughter, but was raised with Gordon as her father.
- Daniel Ross Owens as Dan Kendall (season 1): Banshee's mayor, an idealist and a young politician opposed to Proctor's criminal activities.
- Lili Simmons as Rebecca Bowman: A young Amish girl who lives a devout life with her father Elijah by day, but is a rebellious, sexually adventurous party girl by night. She is Proctor's niece (and eventual incestuous lover), and the only member of the Amish community he has contact with.
- Ben Cross as Rabbit: A ruthless Ukrainian gangster seeking revenge on Hood for stealing from him, and turning his daughter Anastasia against him. (season 1-2)
- Matthew Rauch as Clay Burton: Proctor's ruthless right-hand man. (recurring seasons 1-3; starring season 4)
- Anthony Ruivivar as Alex Longshadow: Indian tribal chief and Proctor's rival. (recurring season 1; starring season 2)
- Geno Segers as Chayton Littlestone: The imposing leader of the local Kinaho tribal gang the Redbones. (recurring season 2; starring season 3).
- Afton Williamson as Assistant District Attorney Alison Medding (recurring season 2, starring season 3).
- Langley Kirkwood as Colonel Douglas Stowe (season 3): A U.S. Marine running an illegal business out of Banshee´s Camp Genoa.
The series also features in recurring roles, Christos Vasilopoulos as Rabbit's right-hand-man Olek, Odette Annable as Longshadow's sister Nola, and Gabriel Suttle as Carrie's son Max. Season 2 introduced Harrison Thomas as Jason Hood, the son of the real Lucas Hood. Season 3 introduced Meaghan Rath as Aimee King, the sole officer in the corrupt Kinaho Reservation Police Department, Chaske Spencer as Billy Raven, a former officer of the Kinaho Reservation PD before becoming a Banshee Sheriff´s deputy, who is now considered an outcast by his own people, and Tom Pelphrey as Kurt Bunker, a former skinhead who applies to be a deputy in Banshee´s Sheriff´s Department.
Banshee is part of Cinemax's attempt to expand its original programming content, and it joins Strike Back (co-produced with BSkyB) and Steve Kronish's Sandbox. Banshee premiered on January 11, 2013. The show was first revealed in August 2011, when it was announced that Alan Ball would produce the crime drama. Ball helped develop the project alongside creators Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler. Banshee was originally set up at Cinemax owner HBO, but moved to Cinemax when it was decided to increase original programming on that network. By August, Cinemax was finalizing casting and financial details with the intention of filming in Spring 2012 in North Carolina. In January 2012, Cinemax ordered ten episodes for the show's first season, with the first episode being directed by Greg Yaitanes. In March 2012, Servitto, Dunn and Owens were cast as, respectively, Brock Lotus, Siobhan Kelly, and Mayor Dan Kendall. Later that month, Starr was cast as lead character Lucas Hood, alongside Grosse as deputy Emmett Yawners, Thomsen as Kai Proctor, Lee as Job, and Milicevic as Carrie Hopewell. Simmons was cast in April as Proctor's niece, Rebecca Bowman, an amish girl who lives a rebellious double life, and in August 2012, Odette Annable was cast in the recurring role of Nola Longshadow, a native American assassin. Tropper, Schickler, Ball, Yaitanes and Peter Macdissi serve as executive producers.
During the first day of shooting on the series, Starr suffered a facial injury when stunt fight choreography went wrong, splitting his lip open. He continued to film for six hours to complete the scene before going to the hospital to receive six stitches. The injury required digital removal for all scenes set before the fight but filmed after the stunt, resulting in lengthy post-production on the first episode. Some of the many fight scenes on the show can take up to 25 hours to film. Yaitanes cited Jason Statham-starring action films, and John Carpenter films Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and They Live (1988) as inspiration for the fights and violence in Banshee. Marcus Young serves as the series' fight choreographer.
On January 29, 2013 Cinemax renewed Banshee for a 10-episode second season which premiered on January 10, 2014. The season's opening action set piece featuring Milicevic, Starr, and Lee, performing a high-speed heist, was filmed across five miles of closed highway. Tropper originally wrote the scene for the show's accompanying graphic novel, Banshee Origins which follows the trio sixteen years earlier, but he decided that it would be an interesting live action stunt. The season finale's shoot out was filmed inside a church in Harlem, New York. The scene was shot over three days.
For the first three seasons, filming took place in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Because North Carolina's legislature chose not to continue tax credits for filming movies and TV series, the show moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, centering in the suburb of Vandergrift, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has continued to offer tax incentives.
The first season of Banshee holds a 61/100 score on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Wall Street Journal critic Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote, "Its smartness comes shining through despite the claptrap (none worse than the parade of sex scenes, soft-porn variety, whose noisiness is exceeded only by their unconvincingness); its story, littered with intriguingly repellent characters, like Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), local evil tycoon, grows ever more enticing". The San Francisco Chronicle said about Banshee, "It has a solid pedigree. It's also part of Cinemax's effort to expand its original programming. That effort pays off with Banshee".
Banshee has also had less favorable reviews. A Boston Herald critic described the series as: "A slow-pokey drama punctuated by shocking violence and sex". Actor Demetrius Grosse, discussing the fate of his character Emmett in Season 2, was critical, believing that while the violent vengeance he took on the Neo-Nazis was not necessarily the right thing to do, Emmett's murder at their hands gives them the final victory.
Season one of Banshee drew Cinemax's highest ever ratings for an original series, averaging 433,000 viewers per episode and 727,000 in the 7 days after each episode was released. The season finale drew 455,000 viewers during its initial screening and 655,000 during its repeat, the largest audience ever, at the time, for a Cinemax original series finale, and the third-highest ratings achieved by Banshee at that point.
The second season exceeded the first's successes. The season's fifth episode, "The Truth about Unicorns", set a series record with 591,000 viewers during its original airing. The season finale also set a new record, with 733,000 viewers, and a total of 968,000 for the evening including repeat showings.
A Banshee comic called Banshee Origins was produced by IDW and provides details of the failed diamond heist that Lucas and Carrie attempted 15 years ago that lead to Lucas' incarceration. A web series also called Banshee Origins that provided additional scenes to help supplement various characters' pasts before the events that lead to the first episode of the TV series. Currently three seasons have been produced.
A soundtrack album, Banshee – Music from the Cinemax Original Series, was released on CD and digital download on February 11, 2014. The album features 17 songs from the show's first two seasons, including the main theme by Methodic Doubt, and tracks by artists including Nico Vega, Ivy Levan, The Growl, Anders Osborne, Fred Eaglesmith, and Martin Harley.
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