Random Review: Leverage

Occasionally, I will review things. Don’t expect any kind of pattern to this behavior, because I don’t know what I’m doing at any given moment. I just do what the voices in the basement of my mind tell me. Which explains why I am awesome at Trivial Pursuit, but also explains why I think arguing with someone for hours over the status of Ice Dancing as a sport is a good idea. So, you know, caveat lector.

My regular readers (“we’ll read it regularly when you WRITE it regularly!”, I hear you saying, and I suppose I deserve that) know that I have a few opinions, and that I am very rarely reluctant to share them. This is because I am, like 75% of people who recorded radio shows as a kid, animated enough to desire superstardom without having the necessary drive to actually pursue it (at least via acting or music…the jury’s still out on my relative literary gumption). Thwarted semi-ambition aside, I do feel eminently qualified to offer my opinion regarding the products that come down the pop culture pipeline, because if Perez F-ing Hilton can become famous for being an inspid driveler, surely someone capable of commentary beyond squiggles and character assassination deserves a whack at it (insert your own Perez-style joke here).

But I digress. We are not here to discuss my childhood and its awkward, albeit elaborately produced Saturday afternoon shows at which my parents were treated to my full-on Ethyl Merman/Weird Al Yankovic/Pointer Sisters covers. No, we are here to discuss TNT’s new hit show Leverage, and that is what we are going to do.

Now, in the interest of total disclosure, it should be noted that I both A) love capers of all stripes and B) follow @TNTWeLoveDrama on Twitter. This is because I am a nerd. Sigh.

What can I say about “Leverage?”

Well, plenty, actually. Not since the days of “The A Team” have I looked forward to an ensemble caper dramedy with such glee, and I was shocked to find how much I love this show. Yes, its plots leave improbability in the dust as they zoom past on their way to impossibility. Yes, the incidental characters can be a little on the paper-thin side. And then there’s the little matter of the slow-burn romantic b-stories between several of the characters, as if they’re the elite Robin Hood squad equivalent of Fleetwood Mac.

But you know what? I don’t care. This show is FUN, something sorely lacking in other entries in this genre, and I for one will continue to tune in every week as long as they don’t screw up and start taking themselves too seriously and/or let the romance between the leads throw a spanner in the works (I’m looking at you, Moonlighting).

The dramatis personae are:

Timothy Hutton as Nathan Ford, “an honest man leading a team of thieves.”  This sounds like “a chaste man leading a team of prostitutes,” which, now that I think about it, also describes Charlie’s Angels. Weird. Tim’s a veteran, and he’s great to watch in this sort of role. Also, he was a fantastic Archie Goodwin on Nero Wolfe, so he could read the phone book and I’d show up.

Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, an actress who can only act when she’s on the make. Sounds like Anne Heche! Ba-ZING! (<—-Occasionally I find a stale reference in the cupboard. I can’t just throw ’em away, for Pete’s sake.) Sophie and Nate are in love, and while we already know that, they seem to be taking their time figuring it out, a process that will no doubt take at least as long as syndication.

Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, resident techno-wizard and geek of seemingly infinite resourcefulness. He gets a pass from me because he doesn’t do that horrible “I’m a non-geek playing a geek, but I can memorize buzzwords and awkwardly shoehorn them into my conversation” thing. If Hodge isn’t a WoW-playing compu-nerd in real life, then he’s the greatest actor of his generation.*

*Adjusted based on my prediction that Heath Ledger is not really dead but will instead appear in a cloud of smoke to receive his Oscar later this month.

Beth Riesgraf as Parker, a master thief with daddy issues, clown issues, abandonment issues…you name it, she’s got it. She’s won me over by possessing, simultaneously, a giant heart and a total lack of tact. She might be the blade that slips through shadows when it comes to thievin’, but you put her in a room with other people and she’s Liz Lemon on crack.

Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer, the muscle of the operation. He’s an elite operative that combines the looks of Fabio’s non-plastic cousin with the attitude of Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse. As is the case with many characters of this type, he is initally dismissed as a meatheaded killing machine, but as the series develops he seems to be showing a more complicated and (need it be said?) troubled past full of broken hearts as well as broken limbs.

Every week, the team has some paper tiger to knock over, usually in the form of A Big Nasty Villain who has taken money/a loved one/any hope of happiness and fulfillment as we know it from A Helpless Innocent. The scenarios don’t really matter, actually – the meat in this sandwich comes from the complicated, Goldbergian machinations our heroes construct and execute in order to remove The Goodies from Bad Guy A and restore them to Helpless Innocent B while teaching the former a lesson and giving hopeful affirmation to the latter. When this sort of thing is done poorly, it stinks like the wharf in mid-August, but when it’s done right (as it is here), the result is fluffy, delicious entertainment that demands little and yet satisfies. “Leverage” is a frothy confection that may be low on existential gravitas, but it sure is tasty.

Kind of like a Peep.

I give this show 4 1/2 Peeps (they lose half a star for relegating the superhot and awesome Sara Rue to mere guest-star status).







2 Responses

  1. So I should check this out on dvd, then, right? I don’t have cable, you see, and I don’t like commercials, so I do most of my tv watching in dvd form. It means I see everything a year after everyone else sees it, but I don’t care about that.

  2. @Sra Oh, definitely! Actually, DVD has spoiled me with regard to my favorite shows…marathon viewing, sans commercials, just makes things even better.

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