Banished has been banished after one season, which has just been my latest weekend binge watching. I’ve got bills to pay – books to write – laundry to do, and I’ve been stuck in my new Lazy Boy recliner going through the episodes. Then, on top of spending all that time getting into the series, I find out that Banished was banished after one season! What the heck?
I had little historical knowledge about convicts from England being shipped across the world to remote places to do their time — whether short or long. I’ve probably heard it mentioned in passing, but it was definitely not a subject in my history books in grade school.
The series Banished is set in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia. The colony is large, over one thousand condemned men and women, guarded by a mere one hundred Royal Navy guards and officers. The show focuses on a small group among the many and their struggles to survive in the harsh environment with little food and nowhere to run. It’s labor camp of sorts, where men do the work and women cook and end up sexual partners for the soldiers. Must keep the ranks happy and satisfied.
The story line is harsh, where the Royal Navy looks upon the prisoners as the scum of England and whores to be had. Nevertheless, underneath the exterior are characters and lives that bring you into the emotional story. It is a well-acted, well-cast, and a well-written show that died an untimely death. I particularly enjoyed seeing Joseph Millson in his role as Major Ross – a somewhat unlikable officer with a very fragile and needy ego underneath.
I saw Joseph on stage in London twice in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, the Phantom of the Opera Sequel, playing Raoul. The role was similar, in that he played a disgruntled and unhappy man. Unfortunately, I missed grabbing him at the stage door and getting his autograph. Joseph is particularly good in Banished, and it’s a pleasure to see him on screen.
Other characters that are likable include David Wenham who plays the often swayed 1st Governor of New South Wales, who is doing his best to start a colony of misfits in the new world. There are bullies and other characters that pull at your emotions when you learn of their past and their current struggles to survive. Love, loyalty, bravery, cowardice, religion, and lust play an integral part in this emotional tale.
Unfortunately, the last episode of Season One doesn’t bring this tale to culmination, and frankly, it’s a shame. I would have like to see it progress at least another season or two.
BBC Two, what were you thinking? Apparently, you weren’t. It was quite criminal to cancel this show, and you should be banished. And the worse part is that you didn’t even offer me a tissue to make it through the last emotional heart-wrenching episode.
If you’re interested in reading the real history of this 1788 penal colony, here is information from This Day In History.