Guest Author - Cheril Vernon
Sometimes your only hope is someone who�s been there before.
Inspired by the true story of a real-life �extreme interventionist,� Benjamin Bratt is William �The Cleaner� Banks in A&E�s new original drama series The Cleaner, premiering Tuesday, July 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on A&E Network.
Having been through rock bottom him self, William Banks knows what addiction can do to a person and those who love him or her. At one time he was a heroin addict. But it was the birth of his second child, Lula, when he chose to make a deal with God. In exchange for a second chance, he vowed to kick his addictions and dedicate his life to helping others in similar situations.
Speed ahead to present day. William (Bratt) and his wife Melissa (Amy Price-Francis, Californication) are trying to raise their children, Ben (Brett DelBuono, Balls of Fury), almost 16, and Lula (Liliana Mumy, Cheaper by the Dozen), 13, worrying who will be taking one child to football practice, the other to dance class.
But William has another life as the extreme interventionist, helping those who seek out his team 24/7 to save someone who can�t save themselves � those with addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. � by any means necessary.
In the series opener, William tries to help Zach, who at one time was a promising high school athlete who has now fallen victim to meth following the death of his father. His mother is in denial, but his teen cousin who lives with him reaches out to Banks for help. As Zack�s mother discovers how meth has changed her son into someone who would steal from his own family, she�s forced to face the truth and ask for help before it�s too late.
While he fights to save Zack as well as uncovering an underground drug-fencing operation, William doesn�t always have time to be the perfect father. A person in need is a person in need and that doesn�t always fit the schedule of a family. He and his wife are trying to fight their addiction to cigarettes (keeping it from the kids), while their son questions why his Dad talks to God all of the time. Daughter Lula worries about her dad with the rest of them, worried that he will relapse at any time.
Though she loves her husband for his heroic efforts as an interventionist, Melissa Banks feels as if William has traded one addiction for another. He�s no longer addicted to heroin but to his interventionist job.
While trying to make time to do right in everything he does, William still finds himself helpless to do anything for his best friend, Mickey (Gil Bellows), a former addict whose own demons have become overwhelming.
Then there�s his unconventional team (some of whom have dealt with their own addictions) Akani Cuesta (Grace Park, Battlestar Galactica), Arnie Swenton (Esteban Powell, Dazed and Confused) and Darnell McDowell (Kevin Michael Richardson, Knights of Prosperity).
Akani is an exotic beauty the team members call �princess� for her seemingly spoiled behavior. We learn that she�s estranged from her father and there�s a hint of a past relationship with William that will add to the layers of complexity in the show.
Swenton generally doesn�t say the right thing and seems to be always one step away from needing to look for a job.
Darnell is a new team member who feels he has a higher calling than being a used car salesman, eager to get started.
Watching the screener for The Cleaner pilot, I felt drawn into the characters, their lives and their pasts. The characters are multi-dimensional and complex � not cookie-cutter characters. Everyone brings their own special story to the table.
The Cleaner series isn�t afraid to show addition at its worst, showing teens smoking a crack pipe, something that not everyone has seen on television. The Cleaner isn�t afraid to show the denial people face when dealing with a loved one with an addiction. And The Cleaner tells it like it is: While talking to his team as they try to save a young drug addict who is unconscious, he notes that more than 75 percent of those he helps relapse. And The Cleaner doesn�t portray William Banks as a person who is 100 percent over his addiction. It�s obvious that it�s a daily struggle to stay on the right path.
More than anything, Benjamin Bratt brings something new to the television table in The Cleaner � an avenging angel who tries his best to bring people back from the edge, regardless of how far they have fallen.