January 5, 2009


Leverage is a new show on TNT (Tuesdays at 10) that premiered in late December. The show caught my eye for two reasons - the lead actor is Timothy Hutton, and TNT has been putting out some decent offbeat dramas in the past couple of years leading the wave of alternative networks (i.e. AMC with Mad Men) that are taking chances with some nontraditional series.

The premise of Leverage is a former insurance investigator called Nate Ford (Hutton), who worked to uncover stolen goods, fraud, etc. in order to prevent the insurance company from having to pay the big bucks. After the insurance company refuses to cover an experimental treatment to save his ailing son, Nate quits and basically withdraws from society. Until an aeronautics executive hires him to steal airplane designs that were stolen from a rival company. Nate accepts the offer and is joined by a team of four of the best thieves, hackers and con artists in the world. Without getting into too many details of the pilot, the team finds out they were essentially conned by this aeronautics executive and were actually stealing the plans for him. They team up to get revenge on this guy. What's born is a team of highly successful thieves, who find some inspiration in working with Nate on "jobs" that involve sticking it to the man. Targeting big companies, etc. that have cheated someone out of what is rightfully there's. So, they form a team called Leverage to basically serve as modern day Robin Hood thieves.

The team and the writing has a very strong Ocean's 11 feel, which I love. Hutton is obviously the actor in the bunch, but the others are starting to come into their own as well. The group consists of:

Alec, a genius hacker played by Aldis Hodge (Voodoo from Friday Night Lights if anyone remembers that character). In the pilot, it seemed like he was doing a Chris Tucker impression, which turned me off. But they tweaked his character a bit and toned down the blatant humor. Now he seems to be the champion underdog of geek, a creed that I subscribe to. At one point, he says "This is the age of geek. We run the world." I'm on board.

Eliot, the badass fighter of the bunch who doesn't believe in guns - played by Christian Kane who I think played a recurring role in Angel. He has great fight scenes, and pulls off a cowboy charm. His hair is unfortunate, but I can look past it for the time being.

Parker, a daredevil female thief who always seems to take the riskiest assignment like throwing herself off the side of a building. She's played by Beth Riesgraf, who is the weakest actor at this point. As far as I know, her biggest claim to fame is having a baby with Jason Lee and naming him Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf-Lee.

Sophie, a seductress con artist capable of playing any character or nationality. She tends to be the "face" of most cons. She also has a history with Nate, who investigated her when he was on the "right" side of the law. Played by Gina Bellman, she might be my favorite on the team. Her dream is stage acting, but she is horrible at it. Yet she plays the con characters perfectly.

And then there's Nate played by Hutton, who has had my heart since Beautiful Girls, one of my favorite movies of all time. Hutton is a master of subtlety in acting, and I love to watch him. This character is the leader of the team, and he has some interesting good vs. evil, dark past, destructive behavior, safe the world thing going on.

I gave this more blog time that I usually do for a new series. Partly because everything else is in repeats during the winter hiatus, but also because this is one of my favorite new dramas in a while.

My recommendation - watch the pilot, which I'm sure is online. It plays like a mini-movie, and you'll know whether you're into this show pretty much right away.


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