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Archive for Friday, January 11, 2013

Tune In Tonight: ‘Banshee’ a howling good time

January 11, 2013

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Gratuitous ultraviolence! Pointlessly explicit sex scenes! Stereotyped villains of every ethnic stripe! Yes, “Banshee” (9 p.m.) is a new Cinemax series. And as such, it’s not half bad.

With a list of executive producers that includes Alan Ball (“True Blood”), “Banshee” stars Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, a handsome and brooding ex-con who assumes the identity of the new (and newly murdered) sheriff of the small town of Banshee, Pa., located somewhere in Cinemax’s idea of Amish country.

Lucas takes the gig for three reasons: Because he watched the newly arrived officer get shot before his eyes. Because he’s an impulsive guy. And because his ex-partner in crime, Carrie (Ivana Milicevic), who is also his ex-lover, lives in Banshee, having settled down from her job as a safecracker to have two kids with the local district attorney, Gordon Hopewell (Rus Blackwell).

‘‘Banshee” begins with an elaborately choreographed Manhattan car chase, featuring a collision with an overturned double-decker bus. This ridiculously high-concept calamity adds little to the plot development, but does get your attention. Lucas barely escapes that mayhem on a stolen motorcycle that takes him to Banshee, where he meets the wise and enigmatic boxer-turned-bartender Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison), who owns the watering hole where the above-mentioned sheriff gets the short end of a Mexican standoff.

It’s as if “Banshee” wanted to be a Michael Bay movie before it became a Quentin Tarantino movie on the way to settling down to become a sexed-up contemporary mystery by way of a Western.

Having exploited and exhausted every Southern-fried gumbo-swamp cliche with “True Blood,” Alan Ball proves there are stereotypes galore north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Richard Karn (“Home Improvement”) guest-stars on “Last Man Standing” (7 p.m., ABC).

• The CEO of a campground empire decides to rough it on “Undercover Boss” (7 p.m., CBS).

• Erin has doubts about the mayor on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Ancient prophecies come true on “Merlin” (9 p.m., Syfy).

• Nina places great importance on her 32nd birthday party on “Portlandia” (9 p.m., IFC).

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