Sunday, June 26, 2011

Show You Should Be Watching: "Leverage"

If you've never seen "Leverage," the premise is fairly simple: a group of criminals team up to play Robin Hood. What happens after they team up is much more complicated, and a whole lot more fun.

The team is led by Nate Ford, an often surly sometimes-alcoholic who left the insurance agency he worked for after the death of his son. After teaming up with some of the people he used to chase as an insurance investigator - a con artist, a thief, a hitter and a hacker - and getting conned himself, he and the rest of the team decide to turn things around, and use their criminal powers for good.

The show plays out like Ocean's 11 meets Robin Hood - each episode involves a person or persons who have been wronged by someone evil, and the team uses their particular skill sets to bring that person justice.  It's a fun premise, and one that has seemingly infinite possibilities.

The real appeal of the show, however, lies in the relationships between the main cast of five. Over the first three seasons these hard people, used to working on their own, develop a quirky, dysfunctional family, with Nate as the grudgingly loving father and con-woman Sophie as the mother. Brilliant hacker Hardison, gruff badass Elliot and emotionally-stunted expert thief Parker make up the rest of the crew.

"Leverage" is really largely about this nontraditional family, but each week they manage to pull off increasingly complicated heists and cons, pulling down bad guy after bad guy and racking up an impressive list of enemies. Though the show is largely set in Boston, the team does often travel, and even their local cons are set in a variety of locations: museums, fashion shows, country music studios, and even horse ranches.

It would be easy to write "Leverage" off as a fluffy action show, but amidst the humor and the snarking there are occasional moments of depth, emotion and even romance. While Nate and Sophie have played the flirting game since day one, the relationship between Parker, who is often childish in her whims and emotions, and geeky but sweet Hardison, is one of the show's most endearing. Even if Parker can't quite bring herself to start a romance, they have one of the best relationships on the show.

Although to be fair, the snarking is pretty fun, too.

It's entirely possible that Parker is my favorite character (if you couldn't tell).

The other high point of the show is often the action scenes. Elliot is usually the star here - watching him beat up rooms full of large, armed men is always one of the most exciting parts of the episode.

The season 4 premiere of "Leverage" is tonight. If you're looking for an exciting, fun show to end your weekend right, this is a great choice. The good guys (usually) win, but they sure don't do it the easy way.

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