“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 way 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 Esteban Powell, who is not only a solid performer but injects some much needed levity from time to time. I find him the most believable actor/character on the series. Just an expression delivers that lifetime of addiction and empathy that adds a powerful emotional impact to the series. 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. The two separate for the season, and the impending permanence creates an intense range of emotions for both actors.
If you thought season one was intense, things get kicked up a few notches for this, the second and sadly, final season. One of the most realistic aspects of the show is that Banks is not always successful with his work. As in real life, particularly when we’re talking addiction, people die. There is a more tight focus on the addicts and their support group, or in some cases, the lack of a support group. Banks is confronted by a few of his past failures, as well.
You’ll get all 13 second 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.
Deleted Scenes: Most episodes contain one or two deleted scenes. You’ll find them on each of the four discs.
Episode Promos: Again, on each disc. These are the network promos for specific episodes.
Coming Clean: (20:07) Cast and crew talk about the development of the show from the real life of Warren Boyd. There’s a look at each of the cast members and a lot of talk about the serious subject matter.
Warren Boyd – The Real Cleaner: (15:15) Meet the man who was the inspiration for the show and works to keep it real.
Gag Reel: (4:42)
For fans looking for closure, I’m not sure that they’ll find it here. It appears that the cast and crew still thought they were sticking around while filming the extras. But, in a weird sense of poetic justice, the unintentional season finale does offer some satisfaction for the fans. Banks celebrates his own 10 year sobriety “birthday”, and his party includes many of the faces that he and the team did manage to save during the season. It’s not closure, but it’s a nice way to end the show. In the end, I believe the show was a little too intense for the standard television audience. The series did end up providing real addicts with help and hope, and that might be the best thing I can say for the show. Unfortunately, we often don’t want to see an accurate image of life on our television monitors. The Cleaner aimed for stark realism, and it achieved that goal. Maybe it was a little too perfect. But, if you want to see some intense and compelling drama, you might have to “let a little perfection into the imperfect”.