Gerald So: A look at Leverage.

I’ve been interested in TNT’s Leverage since reading a description of the show a few months before last season’s writers strike. Timothy Hutton stars as Nathan Ford, an insurance investigator who gains new awareness of the everyman’s plight when his firm refuses to pay for experimental medical treatment for his son, resulting in his son’s death.

In the pilot, aired December 7, airline CEO Victor Dubenich (Saul Rubinek) approaches a drunk and listless Ford claiming a competitor has stolen his designs. He convinces Ford to coordinate three outlaws (Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge) he’s hired to steal the designs back. When the team realizes Dubenich has conned them, they decide to run a scam on him.

That first brief description didn’t prepare me for the tone of the show. Not another dark, brooding crime drama, Leverage is fast-paced and served with a sense of fun. In fact, the fun and huge payout of their first adventure is the reason the team stays together, setting up the high-tech Leverage Consulting and Associates to help underdog clients.

Each character was distinct enough in the pilot, but their chemistry together has come to a good place with three episodes remaining. Kane’s character, Eliot Spencer, is an expert fighter and cook who doesn’t like guns. Riesgraf’s character, Parker, is a socially-inept cat burglar. Hodge’s character, Alec Hardison, is a wisecracking
hacker. Rounding out the team is Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux, a ham actress and virtuoso grifter first brought in by Ford to scam Dubenich.

In addition to fooling villains, Leverage tries to keep viewers somewhat fooled until the end of each episode, when the full scope of the con is revealed in quick flashbacks as if to say, “Here’s what Parker was really doing when…” In good episodes, the flashbacks tie up all the loose ends. In weak episodes, they leave me feeling cheated.

My biggest complaint, though, is that TNT hasn’t aired the episodes inthe order they were filmed. While each episode can stand alone interms of plot, very important character arcs are missed as are the actors’ learning how to better play their roles. Despite this,Leverage has had a respectable audience each week. On Feb. 2, TNT ordered a 15-episode second season to premiere later this year.

— Gerald So
For more of Gerald’s thoughts and observations, check out his blog: If you want to know about my Life…