Everyone has something which only they seem to know about and love. For me, it’s Steven Banks.
Banks is an American actor, writer and musician, who had his first success on Showtime with Steven Banks Home Entertainment Center, filmed live onstage and released in 1989. The premise is that of a writer who is trying to meet an impending deadline, but keeps getting distracted by anything and everything which catches his attention. The show included self-penned musical numbers, comedic bits, and general manic hijinks. It was a big enough hit that Showtime offered Banks the chance to do his own TV show, entitled (of course) The Steven Banks Show. Based on the same premise, the pilot aired on Showtime in 1991, but never got any further.
PBS then took an interest in Banks and commissioned additional episodes, produced by former NBC wunderkind Brandon Tartikoff. Filmed in New Orleans, it added two additional players to the cast, and despite a limited budget managed to expand Banks’s world. Thirteen episodes were produced, but one, “Miss Janie Regrets”, never aired due to controversy about a PBS children’s show parody. I suspect the lusting after the host of said show and her behavior off the air is what triggered its cancellation. At any rate, this is how I discovered Steven Banks, in the summer of 1994. I only saw four or five episodes. My PBS station kept preempting them for more important local news. Grr.
Guests on the show included Peter Tork, Penn & Jillette, Gina Schock, Bill Mumy and Louis Nye. One show chronicled Steven’s winning what he thought was John Lennon’s guitar at a rock and roll auction; it turned out to be something similar but different. Another episode involved the new neighbors and their strange requests to borrow things like a Bowie knife, a mop and rat poison. Each show featured at least one new song from Steven, such as a dissertation on the death of famous rockers or a parody of Bob Dylan about Elvis Presley. Yes, it’s a boomer show. But it was a great one. The posters in Banks’s apartment alone are worth the watch.
Although The Steven Banks Show is long gone, having only lasted one season, there are many episodes on YouTube, and Home Entertainment Center is available on Amazon Prime. Enjoy.