TV Listings | See this Banshee: You won’t die, but you might faint!

Pick of the Week: Banshee, K5, Sun 22:00 or Wed 22:50

Soft-porn sex, shootouts and murderous Amish gangsters: half an hour in, and the first season of Cinemax drama Banshee sure packs a punch. Produced by True Blood creator Alan Ball, who describes it as “high-octane entertainment, violent and clever, yet complex”, and scripted by two well-regarded novelists, Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler, Banshee has drawn Cinemax’s highest ever ratings for an original series following its US premiere in January.

“Ultraviolent, over-the-top, and wickedly fun,” according to Entertainment Weekly, Banshee stars Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune) as newly-released criminal Lucas Hood, as he dodges just about every bad guy in town, having stolen the identity of a dead man who just happened to be the new sheriff.

Conflicted Amish gangsters, double-crossing jewel thieves and transgender computer hackers make up the motley crew that populates the fictional town of Banshee, Pennsylvania.

Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire) is Hood’s adversary, Ukrainian gangster Mr Rabbit, the father of Anastasia/Carrie Hopewell (Bond villainess Ivana Mili?evi?), Hood’s former criminal accomplice and love-interest. And Denmark’s own Ulrich Thomsen (Festen) plays the ex-Amish crime kingpin Kai Proctor.

And he isn’t the only Dane involved. Ole Christian Madsen (SuperClásico) became the first Danish director to go behind the camera on a major US TV series.

Described by the Boston Herald as “a slow-pokey drama punctuated by shocking violence and sex”, Banshee may well be more favourable to viewers than critics. This is a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously. While the storyline may lack subtlety and credibility, the crazy over-the-top plot and gratuitous, stylised violence offers a satisfying 45 minutes of good old-fashioned, wham-bang entertainment packed into each episode. (LD)

Also New:

In a good week for docs, Jeanie Finlay’s The Great Hip-Hop Hoax documents the story of LA duo Silibil n’ Brains. Only the white homeboys were Caledonian not Californian. Dubbed “the rapping Proclaimers” by A&Rs in the UK, they plotted their revenge, rewriting their past to dupe an industry besotted with Eminem.  

I Will Be Murdered begins when a message is released on YouTube by a murdered lawyer predicting that the Guatemalan government will have him executed. But it ends unexpectedly – you’ll have to tune in to find out how.

The Time of Their Lives (DR2, Fri 00:30) meets centenarians still working for a living; Uncle Hitler (DRK, Mon 21:55) shows a cuddly side of the Führer; End it like Beckham (BBC Ent, Sun 21:00) looks into the crystal ball of Golden Balls; and Tel Aviv Comes Out (BBC World, Sun 18:30) asks how the city has become a mecca for gay people: both Jewish and Islamic. (BH)

Sport of the Week:

Should Sunderland have a sprightly new manager in place before their English Premier League game against Manchester United, they might fancy their chances against arthritic David Moyes – one more blow and he will be on his knees. Also on Saturday, Liverpool will remember that the last time they thrashed Crystal Palace in the top flight (K6, Sat 16:00), 9-0 in 1989, they went on to lift the title. Elsewhere, we’ve got the Korean Grand Prix and the live Women’s Champions League action. (BH)

Film of the Week:

Imagine if Punxsutawney Town Hall was blown up in Groundhog Day and Bill Murray’s mission was to work out who did it … this is the plot of Source Code starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s heaps better than The International, in which the villain is a bank – ooh scary! – or the insipid Larry Crowne. Tellingly, director Tom Hanks only had a bit-part in his first film, That Thing You Do!. Elsewhere, Boy A (DR2, Sat 00:00) is masterful and Scott Pilgrim vs the World (DR3, Sun 21:00) entertaining, but neither is a Danish premiere. (BH)

You get the feeling that if you hate WilliamsÂ’ wacky improvisation, youÂ’ll hate thisComing Soon: The Crazy Ones

This series, created by David E Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal), is a quirky workplace comedy  with instant appeal. In part, this is thanks to a great ensemble cast headed by the always charismatic Robin Williams in his first TV sitcom since Mork & Mindy 31 years ago.

Williams plays Simon Roberts, the formidable head of a Chicago ad agency, whose somewhat reckless antics are tempered by his doting daughter and partner Sydney (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who appears to be an ardent professional by comparison.  

Given the talent that Williams has for free-association, it might be surprising to know that he is often overshadowed by James Wolk (Mad Men’s infamous Bob Benson), who as the agency’s prized asset has an over-abundance of charm that makes women go weak at the knees. His chemistry with Williams is electric and makes the series. (CJ)