You've got to hand it to Alan Ball, the producer of "Six Feet Under" and "True Blood," whose new show, "Banshee," kicks off with a roller coaster ride of a first episode.
In the first ten minutes, a flawlessly handsome man gets out of prison, bangs a female bartender, steals a car, and then has an enormous car chase and gun fight in the middle of the day in Manhattan. Certainly off to a good start.
Then in the next ten minutes he leaves NYC on a stolen motorcycle and travels to the Amish country town of Banshee, where he interrupts a bloody robbery and impulsively steals the identity of the town's recently departed new sheriff, who conveniently no one in Banshee has met yet.
Being a lawman with a criminal background proves an advantage, and the new sheriff, Lucas Hood, thinks nothing of punching, stabbing and shooting first, then asking questions later. Of course Banshee is filled with evil criminals, especially the violent slaughterhouse owner, Proctor, who was raised Amish but now leads a far from a peaceful or godly existence.
"Banshee," which debuts Friday Jan. 11 at 10 PM on Cinemax, also has meth dealers, deadly teen raves, shockingly promiscuous Amish women, a D.A.'s wife who was secretly Hood's jewel thief partner and lover before he was arrested, and the diabolical Rabbit, a Ukrainian gangster, played by Ben Cross, who will rest at nothing until Hood is dead.
After the success of "True Blood" with both women and gay men, openly gay executive producer Ball has packed plenty of tasty men into Banshee - most notably Kiwi actor Antony Starr who plays the ex-con sheriff. Starr looks so good with his shirt and other clothes off he's destined to become quite the new sensation in the weeks ahead.
One of the most interesting characters is Job (Hoon Lee) a bitchy, cross-dressing Asian hair salon owner and "genius computer hacker" who helps Hood fake his identity. He's as dangerous as he is hilarious.
"Banshee" also features plenty of Alan Ball's gruesomely twisted humor and more than its share of interesting cliffhangers and plot developments. Based on the first two episodes alone, there are enough storylines and characters to keep this show fresh for several seasons to come. This reviewer will be happily along for the ride.