What do you get when you meld together the con-job genre of an Oceans 11 or The Sting with a high-tech Mission Impossible ensemble team? Mix in some Get Smart campiness and a touch of do-goodness of Robin Hood and his band of merry men (and women) and you have Leverage.
Leverage is an American television drama series that first premiered on December 7, 2008 on the TNT network. It follows a team of five members that is led by a former insurance investigator who use their skills to turn around injustices to common people put on by organizations like corporations, government entities, and organized criminal elements.
The organizer of the group is Nathan Ford who is played by Timothy Hutton. Ford had been an insurance fraud investigator who had a seriously ill son. The insurance company he worked for refused experimental treatment and when his son died Ford began drinking. He was eventually fired from his job. By the start of the first series, Ford was an alcoholic man who has been divorced by his wife and is ready to get back at those who take advantage of others. Now we are in the third season.
The other main characters in Leverage consist of Sophie Devereaux, who is played by Gina Bellman. She is a grifter and accomplished art thief. She tries to be an actress in real life, but is only able to be convincing when she is pulling a con job. She acts is a buffer between Nate and the team when there are problems and assists in antagonizing Nate at times especially about her real name. It is evident that she and Ford have had feelings for each other. Outside of cameo roles, she missed episodes 9 – 15 during season two. She is now back.
Eliot Spencer, as played by Christian Kane, is a highly skilled martial artist, weapons expert and an expert in retrieval. While he has distaste for guns, he is proficient in their use and knowledgeable about them. He also has other abilities such as a profound skill as a culinary chef.
Parker, who has only one name, is played by Beth Riesgraf. She is a thief, cat-burglar, and explosives expert. She is a risk-taker who is in it for the thrill. During an episode in season one her abusive father tells her that she has a choice to do what she is told, or to become a better thief. She chose the latter.
Alec Hardison, played by Aldis Hodge, is a computer hacker and gadget expert. He is a geek, genius, and science fiction fan. He was raised by foster parents who where Jehovah’s Witnesses, and from this he has acquired ability to talk to anyone. He is also exceptionally gifted when hacking into most forms of electronics.
Leverage is very much patterned after shows from the sixties like The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Wild, Wild, West, and Mission Impossible. Like these shows, the team takes on entities that no one else will. Like many of these earlier shows, the titles of each episode are of a similar theme. For Leverage, the theme is that they each begin with “The” and end in the word “Job”. Even the theme music has that sixties show sound to it.
Leverage: The Complete Third Season comes on 4 DVD discs and runs 680 minutes. There are 15 episodes that make up this season and it is all stored in a single case enclosure.
At the start of this season Nate is in prison for at job the team pulled at the end of last season. And in the first episode, the team tries to rescue Nate from prison – he had sacrificed himself to let the crew escape, and he chooses not to go. Instead, he finds a client that the team works on helping to expose a corrupt warden. Episode three in which Parker is reunited with her mentor, which is portrayed by Richard Chamberlain, was really good and Parker has to deal with a state-of-the-art security system.
In episode six, the crew takes down a corrupt record executive and Eliot – who has his own band in real life, gets to shine. This one has John Schneider in it and it turns Eliot into a genuine star. Episode nine features Tom Skerrit as Nate’s criminal father – Jimmy Ford, that involves Russian and Irish mobsters, and episode fourteen which the team has to restore a mall Santa’s reputation on Christmas Eve.
The video is framed at the widescreen aspect of 1.78:1 and has been enhanced for widescreen televisions. The images are very sharp, interior scenes appear very warm, color saturation levels are very deep, flesh tones are rendered well, and black tones are extremely good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track features well recorded dialogue which is located in the center channel. The music transfers are very consistent within the surround sound envelopment.
The extras include audio commentaries for every episode of the season. There are four deleted scenes and a gag reel that is just under six minutes long. Other items include “On the Set with Michael Colton & John Aboud: The New Writers of Leverage”, “What Does a Producer Do?”, “Inside the Leverage Writers’ Room”, and a featurette in which director Marc Roskin and special effects coordinator Mal Franco discuss two sequences which required special effects.
On watching season one, I became an instant fan and since I continue to look forward to each new season. The show is very likable with a cast that is a superb mix of characters. If you are looking for something deep, or a revolutionary new show, Leverage is not it, this instead, is pure entertainment. There are times that it moves quite fast, almost feeling like they are trying to get too much in, but they do tie up all the loose ends by the end making it feel complete. I highly recommend this series.