Banshee: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-17-2013, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Cinemax (Distributed by HBO) - 2013
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 600 minutes
Genre: TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish DTS Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish
Starring: Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee, Rus Blackwell, Matt Servito, Demetrius Grosse, Ben Cross, Lili Simmons, Ryann Shane
Directed by: Various
Music by: Methodic Doubt
Written by: Various
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 30, 2013

"Small town. Big secrets"

Film Synopsis:

From the creator of 'True Blood,' 'Banshee' stars Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania, where he continues his criminal activities, even as he’s hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier.

My Take:

Season one of Banshee begins with a bizarre twist of fate as a recently paroled master thief assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, sheriff-in-waiting of Banshee, Pa., the same town where his former partner and lover Carrie relocated and remarried 15 years ago. Keeping his history a secret as he awaits forged papers from an old associate, Lucas befriends boxer-turned-bartender Sugar Bates and settles into his new life. Itching for the thrill of thievery and yearning for Carrie, Lucas inadvertently gets tangled up in the rampant corruption of shunned Amish gangster Kai Proctor while keeping a vigilant eye out for Mr. Rabbit, the New York mob boss who wants revenge against Lucas and Carrie for the jewel heist that landed Lucas in prison.

I don’t have Cinemax so the first I heard of this series was when I received the press release. It looked interesting so I requested it. Here is a little additional information from the press release:

Banshee is the latest, original primetime drama from Cinemax and the first to be wholly created in-house with Emmy and Oscar winner Alan Ball as executive producer, along with Greg Yaitanes, Peter Macdissi, Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler. The series stars Antony Starr as Lucas, Ivana Milicevic as Carrie, Ulrich Thomsen as Proctor, an intimidating, wealthy local businessman who believes he is above the law; Frankie Faison as Sugar Bates, Rus Blackwell as Gulf War hero Gordon Hopewell, Banshee's district attorney and Carrie's husband, Ryann Shane as Deva, Carrie's rebellious daughter, Hoon Lee as Job, a dangerous transvestite computer hacker who assists Lucas in his criminal enterprises and Ben Cross as Mr. Rabbit.

Conceptually speaking I found Banshee rewarding. Lucas Hood is drawn as a complex character whose initial motivation strictly lies in survival and reconnecting with his former lady love and partner whom he took the fall for 15 years earlier by allowing himself to be captured by the police thereby facilitating her escape (with the proceeds of their recent score). Lucas saw opportunity in assuming the identity of the sheriff but strictly as a means to an end. What he didn’t expect was his adoption of the people in Banshee as well as the discovery that he had a knack for his new “job”. His particular skill set along with an approach that would be deemed overtly unorthodox for a town sheriff makes for an interesting mix that places him in a rotating love/hate relationship with his staff as well as in the crosshairs of the local crime boss, Kai Proctor who makes for a worthy adversary who makes no bones about his agenda or willingness to squash those that may stand in his way.

Along with Lucas and Kai are a cache of characters that coincide with the show’s wonderfully infused subplots that revolve around them. There’s Carrie, who came to Banshee to escape her past and has successfully done so by changing her identity, marrying local prosecutor Gordon Hopewell and raising their two children. With Lucas’s arrival Carrie is fearful that his presence not only jeopardizes her secret but also threatens to bring a very dangerous element from their shared past down on top of them. There’s the man known only as Rabbit, a Ukrainian mobster with unfinished business with Carrie/Lucas who will stop at nothing to find them and settle old scores. There’s Rebecca, a young woman that seeks to shed the confines of her sheltered life in Banshee by maintaining a coexistence that ties her to both Lucas and Kai. There’s Sugar and Job two very different men each of who find themselves constantly entrenched in pulling Lucas from the fire of whatever situation he has ignited.

Lastly there are the members of the Banshee sheriff’s department, Carrie’s husband Gordon and their two kids, teenage bad girl Deva/sickly adolescent Max, the Longshadows family that heads the local Indian nation, and FBI Special Agent Dean Xavier who has come to town to oversee the turbulent goings on that seem to surround the town, Kai Proctor and its new sheriff that aptly support the continuing storyline. Banshee is all that I expected and perhaps a little more. Typical of cable based original programming the thematic narrative is underscored by violence, sex and content that is strictly aimed at adult audiences. The writing is good as is the direction although at times the story’s elements flirt with nonsensical fillers that can be cause for eye rolling.

I find the characters of Lucas and Kai to be the driving force behind what makes Banshee tick and Antony Starr and Ulrich Thomsen are simply spot on in their portrayal. There is plenty of action, passion, struggles for power and hidden/revealed secrets that you may or may not see coming. The plot isn’t of the mind bending or riveting variety however this is an engaging and fun series that eschews melodrama in favor of strong characters and straightforward storytelling. I watched it with my wife and while it started out stronger than it finished we had a great time with it and hope to catch Season Two when it airs next year.

Season one’s ten episodes are spread over four BD-50 dual layered Blu-ray discs. The bonus content is integrated and includes Blu-ray exclusives, interactive content, episode specific commentaries, deleted scenes and more. As an added bonus the first two episodes of Season one of the Cinemax original series Strike back are included.

Parental Guide:

The show contains violence, language, sexual content, nudity and strong thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Banshee: The complete first season comes to Blu-ray from HBO featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2 Mbps.

This high definition video presentation offers clear, refined images that boast a relatively subdued color palette that is rarely eye catching but conveys the earth tones and time period specific clothing, locals and sullen complexions with aplomb. There are instances where vivid/colorful hues are utilized and their presence livens things up a bit. The rendering of fine detail can range from exquisite to moderate. This leaves certain long range and mid level shots with less dimensionality but not to the point of appearing soft. Black levels fluctuate however contrast is stable which when coupled along with the prevailing use of low level lighting mates well with the visual style of the presentation. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts/anomalies and felt that this high definition presentation probably closely mimicked the series’ original broadcast quality.

The is a solid DTS-HD MA soundtrack with an open expression, superb rendering detail and involving spatial sounds/off camera directional cues. Dynamics are punchy and sharp without being harsh or edgy. Bass response is deep, authoritative and on occasion room filling. Voices are clearly intonated with smooth sibilant free highs that offer excellent delineation that makes small inflectional changes detectable. Surround activity is abundant and predominantly comes in the form of atmosphere generating ambience however there is also effective use of discretely placed sounds that occasionally emanate from both the front and rear channels. The result is an engaging and entertaining listening experience that augments the show’s dark theme.

Bonus Features:

  • Blu-ray Exclusive Features:

    1. (HD)Inside the Title Sequence - uncover the clues behind each episode's opening title sequence with this interactive feature.
    2. (HD) Reveal the Code - discover the true meaning behind the code that starts each episode – 2 minutes
    3. (HD) Banshee: Origins comic book (interactive) - get the full story on Lucas Hood's past.
  • (HD) NYC Bus Crash - a look inside the special effects process of one of the series' most explosive scenes – 2 minutes

  • (HD) Town of Secrets - show creators give an insider's guide to the town's darkest and most twisted secrets – 4 minute featurette

  • (HD) Banshee Origins - find out backstory with over a dozen prequel videos featuring the cast – 13 segments beginning 15 years back though to present

  • (HD) Zooming In: Episodes 7 & 8 - go on set with the cast to see how key, adrenaline-filled scenes were created – 4 minutes

  • Audio Commentaries - six commentaries with cast and crew including executive producers Jonathan Trooper and Greg Yaitanes, director SJ Clarkson, cast members Antony Starr, Ivana Milicevic, Lili Simmons and more.

  • (HD) Deleted Scenes – Episodes 9, 10, 6 (two scenes)

  • (HD) Episode Recaps

  • (HD) Season 2 Teaser Trailer – 1 minute

  • Bonus DVD containing episodes one and two of Cinemax’s original series Strike back

Final Thoughts:

Banshee is an engaging television series that is rife with simmering subplots, well drawn characters, visceral action and adult themes. Season One comes to Blu-ray from HBO featuring excellent high definition audio/video quality and a solid supplemental package that includes Blu-ray exclusive content, a glimpse behind the scenes and a handful of worthwhile commentary tracks from the cast/crew. Banshee is well worth checking out especially if you enjoy gritty, hard edged programming.

Here is the Official Trailer:


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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post #2 of 7 Old 07-17-2013, 03:07 PM
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Saw one episode and liked it. This was a quick tv to bluray release. When is game of thrones coming to blu?
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-18-2013, 05:53 AM
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The wife and I really enjoy this show....but some of the stuff is a little too much for us to take seriously. Like the time Anastasia got into (what felt like) a 15 minute brawl with Rabbit's #2. The sheer ridiculous brutality of scenes like really keep me from taking the show too serious.
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-24-2013, 12:08 PM
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Great show for someone that is fine with a little brutality.
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-24-2013, 01:00 PM
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Thanks Ralph!

No one would recover from some of the beatings in this show, so I'll call it a fantasy.
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-24-2013, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by thedeskE View Post

No one would recover from some of the beatings in this show, so I'll call it a fantasy.

Totally agree with the beatings. But me and wife both enjoyed it. Hopefully they will renew it for season 2.
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-24-2013, 09:52 PM
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It's been renewed since the 1st season was airing.
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