“William Banks has saved 257 people from addiction to drugs, sex, and gambling. He’s not a cop. He’s not a superhero. He’s just a man with a calling. This is his story.”
What he is, is Benjamin Bratt, returning from the thespian dead as William Banks, better known to the show’s fans as The Cleaner. Bratt hasn’t been seen much since he left the gig at Law & Order. I almost didn’t recognize him here. But, he’s returned in style. The Cleaner has all the characteristics of a police procedural series with a lot more excitement. His methods are often harsh. He’s your worst nightmare of an intervention. When Banks is called in, you haven’t hit rock bottom. Rock bottom has just hit you. The character is a recovering addict himself and does this as a kind of making amends. Of course he doesn’t work alone. He’s assembled a kind of Impossible Mission Force style team that helps with each case. Together they form a private company that a family member can call when they tire of a friend or family member’s addiction. The series was based on the real life story of Warren Boyd, who also acts as one of the show’s producers.
Even though the series is based on real events and that man is part of the team, I have to say that my only problem with the show is how unlikely some of the stories and tactics actually are. It makes for good drama, but I suspect these guys would find themselves in some serious trouble in reality. The cast is top notch and includes Grace Park and Kevin Michael Richardson, who just steals the show. Amy Price-Francis is wonderful as Banks’ wife, whom he often neglects due to his incredibly strong calling to do this job. In many ways his life isn’t any more together than when he was on drugs. If you can ignore the imagination stretch enough, there’s some solid drama in this summer first run series.
You’ll get all 13 first season episodes on 4 discs.
Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.Those of you with access to HD network signals have already seen this nice transfer. If you have only experienced The Cleaner in standard TV format, this will be a very nice treat indeed. Colors are quite accurate with flesh tones nearly reference. Much of the show is shot in low lighting, and so blacks become crucial. You’ll find them deep and often rich in detail.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is as sharp as the picture. All of the dialog comes through just fine. The musical montage moments always sport a dynamic range of sound from lows to highs; there is excellent production value all the way around.
The Mystery Of William Banks: (4:20) Cast and crew, including the real Banks, try and offer an idea of what the show’s about. Most of it is describing the lead characters.
International Promo: (3:58) A humorous promo that ran after the pilot episode. A “now that you’ve seen where we’re coming from, see where we’re going” type of presentation with clips of first season episodes.
While I like the show, it’s hard for me to see this one having a long on air life. It’s not what most people are used to, but it looks enough like the familiar that they might turn it off. It didn’t score exceptionally in the first year and will be on the bubble during its second summer. It’s a treat for Bratt fans and a chance for him to establish a nice unique character: “husband, father, addict, action figure”.