The Cleaner premieres tonight on A&E at 10PM. I got an early look at tonight’s episode and I was surprised at how much I liked it. Which isn’t to say I didn’t expect it to be good, it’s that I had only heard a few things about it and what I heard had me thinking it’s not my typical type of show. I’m not big on procedurals and I’ve been gravitating towards “the funny” vs. “the drama” lately.
Inspired by the true story of a real life “extreme interventionist,” the show centers around William “The Cleaner” Banks who, after hitting rock-bottom from his own addictions after the birth of his daughter, strikes a tentative deal with God. In exchange for a second chance, he vows to kick his addictions and dedicate his life to helping others. Now, along with his unconventional team, he helps people get clean from their own addictions by any means necessary.
Benjamin Bratt stars as William Banks and he was the sole reason this show as on my radar but the rest of the cast is pretty impressive too. They include Amy Price-Francis (Californication), Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica), Kevin Michael Richardson (Knights of Prosperity, Like Family), Esteban Powell (Dazed and Confused, Powder), Brett DelBuono (Balls of Fury, Kidnapped) and Liliana Mumy (Cheaper by the Dozen, The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause).
In the first episode, William is hired to help a promising high school athlete, Zach, who has become addicted to meth after a tragedy in his life. Meanwhile, we find out that William’s not just fighting other people’s demons. Both he and those on his team are battling with a few of their own. As they struggle to overcome them, they must find Zach before it’s too late.
The show does a good job of getting right into the action. We’re given just enough background to understand what’s going on and then we’re off and running. This means there wasn’t much time spent introducing William’s team. For the time beginning, we’ve just been given a hint of the history they sharer. I didn’t mind that too much since I prefer stories that don’t throw too much background at me right away. However, it did lessen the effect of some of the events towards the end of the episode.
Bratt plays Banks wonderfully. Helping others might a heroic effort in his part and we certainly get to see he is positively effecting people but we’re also reminded, several times, that he’s not without flaws and that the lifestyle he’s chosen isn’t appreciated by everyone. That Banks sticks with it says a lot about his commitment to the oath he swore and Bratt portrays that beautifully. You can sense his quiet desperation throughout the every scene.
The other actors are great too. Everyone fit well together and there was none of that first episode awkwardness you sometimes get when you’ve got larger casts working together. I believed that they all had been working together long before we were invited to watch and that added to the authenticity of the show.
The case of the week wasn’t too exciting but I suspect these cases are always going to be more about the people than what Banks has to do to help them. I’m ok with that as long as they continue to give us meaty character stuff like they did here. I’m not going to say anything more since I don’t want to spoil the episode for you. I’ll just say that I went in not knowing what to expect and was drawn into the lives of these characters. It’s definitely worth giving a try. What have you got to lose?