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May 11th, 2009


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11:57 pm - Leverage? More Like Beverage!
When I first heard about Leverage, I was mildly interested since it starred Christian Kane and Gina Bellman. But, as so often happens, the first thing I read about it was a middling Entertainment Weekly review, which colored my impression of the series. My flist, however, seemed to be enjoying the series, especially r_a_l_i_g_h, who described it as a show with "capers and costumes and accents and fight scenes and explosions," which sounded AWESOME. I heard the show was a lot of fun, but it wasn't until I saw this Aldis Hodge video that I moved the show to the top of my List. The subsequent Beth Riesgraf video was just icing. And then I learned that one of the showrunners was John Rogers, whom I knew from the Global Frequency pilot and whose blog I enjoyed. Finally, a meta factor I didn't know about until I watched the show: according to the credits, there appear to be a lot of female writers on the staff, which is cool.

Leverage is about a thief, a hacker, a brute, a grifter, and the honest ex-insurance investigator who brings them together to fight crime help the helpless. Team Leverage sticks up for the little people who get screwed by the Big People. They pick up where the law leaves off, attacking corrupt businesses and foiling scams on their own terms. And their own terms involve stealing, lying, disguising, hacking, plotting, scamming, and blowing things up. It's like Ocean's Eleven: The Show! Or, if you will, Mission: Impossible and The A-Team with more style and humor. And with these kinds of shows, it's all about the crack team you've assembled.

Parker is the thief. Her skills include crawling through vents, jumping off buildings, and setting explosives. Her skills do not include talking to people or telling lies. She's very blunt and snarky, and she always has this very intent look on her face. She is also a cute blonde, and, to my surprise, this is exploited surprisingly little. To be honest, it confused the hell out of me. Parker seems like a girl who doesn't realize how pretty she is, and there are only a couple times during the season that her sex appeal is even used as an asset, despite her porcelain-doll good looks. Instead, Sophie, the woman a decade older, is the sexy, alluring one. It was very confusing. Refreshing, but confusing. And sad for my male, cleavage-desiring gaze. Parker is awesome at what she does, however, like everyone else on the team, and people are constantly impressed by her badassery. She is my favorite character if she plays the Cute Girl Card, but, really, it's a very close match between her and Hardison.

Hardison is the hacker. His skills include gaining access to government databases, modifying streaming video on the fly, and painting. His skills do not include...well, there is little Hardison can't do because he is Made of Awesome. Better yet, he is a GEEK. "Age of the Geek!" he often declares proudly. Television rarely shows us a truly badass geek; Hardison is strong and confident and just happens to be a huge Doctor Who fan. His geekiness isn't used as the butt of a joke but is instead used to provide geeky in-jokes for geeks. "Power to the geek!" is another of his victory cries. Hardison is played by Aldis Hodge up there, and if you liked that video, you'll love Hardison. I cannot believe that this is Voodoo fucking Tatum. And Jake from Supernatural! Why were you being cast as tough, surly guys when you were CLEARLY meant to be Hardison?! Hardison basically walks around pwning everything. I cannot get over how awesome Hardison and Parker are; rarely are characters THIS awesome.

Eliot is the brute. His skills include beating a lot of people up at one time, identifying weaponry from the sound of the bullets, and cooking. His skills do not include understanding geekery or shooting people. One of the cool things about Eliot is that he's totally badass but hates guns, far preferring the art of close combat. He's sort of cantankerous and a loner, so working with a team is a new experience for him (as it is for the rest of them, really).

Sophie is the grifter. Her skills include charming men, speaking in accents, and acting offstage. Her skills do not include acting onstage and getting over Nate. Gina Bellman is far more subdued here than she was as Jane, which is less fun. What is fun, however, is seeing her play all her different roles with fervor and conviction. She and Nate clearly have a History that constantly threatens to become a Present in that typical, eye-rolley UST way.

Nate is the honest man. His skills include planning and coordinating scams, being righteous, and drinking. His skills do not include keeping his personal feelings out of things and not drinking. Nate used to work for a large insurance company that let his son die by denying his claim for treatment. Nate lost his job, his son, and his wife, and he sure would like some revenge. Team Leverage consists of people he's chased down as part of his job, so he knows they're good and he knows their tricks. Honestly, it's hard to believe Nate wasn't one of them; he's so good at being one of them now.

Each episode is another job, and they're all different and come with their own set of complications and stratagems, though in every episode, Nate is likely to suggest they steal something ridiculous like the moon or whatever. Just watch, next season, they'll steal the goddamn moon. We learn little pieces of the characters' backstories in hilarious little flashbacks—the show is much sillier than I expected. Most of all, however, it is SO MUCH FUN. I was pretty much addicted from the first episode. I love heists and capers and shit, and every week is a new one! And at the end, you get all the flashback twists explaining what the team was doing that they didn't show us at first (like at the end of Ocean's Eleven). Meanwhile, you have the characters being funny, a parade of recognizable guest stars, and lots of comm chatter.

The first season doesn't have a great deal of character development and plot arc until the last few episodes; it focuses mostly on the team dynamic. It soon becomes apparent that this is a show about The Family You Make for Yourself. All of these people grow to depend on and trust each other, and in turn, they help expand their horizons a bit. They start to enjoy the work they do, helping people in need and giving scumbags their comeuppance.

The show sort of reminds me of Chuck with the FUN factor, geek-friendly nature, and character composition (a geek! a badass! a hot blonde!), although the shows have different tones. Both shows are incredibly entertaining and have likable characters without being overburdened with serious drama, though, and that's a plus. The second season premieres Wednesday, July 15, on TNT and, having gone through the first season in four days, I don't know what to do with myself until then.

Steal the moon?
Current Mood: exanimateexanimate
Current Music: Garbage - Badass

(51 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:squaringkarma
Date:May 12th, 2009 07:03 am (UTC)
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Yay! You finally get Leverage!

Parker and Hardison = awesome to the max!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
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Everyone else could explode, and it could just be Parker and Hardison running around being awesome, and I'd be cool with that.
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From:rowanceleste
Date:May 12th, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
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Okay, apparently I need to check out Leverage!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
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You do! It's superfun!!
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From:peri_peteia
Date:May 12th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC)
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Mmmmm. Parker and Hardison.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 07:28 am (UTC)
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I simultaneously do and do not want them to hook up! On the one hand, I like strong platonic friendships. On the other hand, my two favorite characters!
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From:the_partyman
Date:May 12th, 2009 08:13 am (UTC)
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Great summary! Parker and Hardison are my favourites too. In fact, I think I might be a total Parker/Hardison 'shipper.

I love that the show succeeds where other similar efforts in recent years (Heist, Smith, etc) have failed, and I think the key to it - aside from the excellent cast/characters - is that it IS silly. It manages to be dramtic and exciting without taking itself too seriously.

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From:the_narration
Date:May 12th, 2009 08:48 am (UTC)
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Heh. This sounds fun. The team composition reminds me of a Shadowrun game: the hacker, the infiltrator, the muscle and the face using whacky schemes to get into places and fool people.
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From:sneaker328
Date:May 12th, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
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IF ONLY HE WOULD CUT HIS HAIR!
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From:pandarus
Date:May 12th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
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I have grown reconciled to the hair, because Christian Kane is Just That Awesome.
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From:pandarus
Date:May 12th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
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Yes! This! Hardison and Parker and Eliot for the win!

(I don't dislike Sophie or Nate [although I find the Sophie-can't-act thing kind of painful to watch], but I freaking ADORE Hardison, Eliot and Parker.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I'm with you! They are my favorites. The Sophie-can't-act thing is very strange, I agree, but, hey, this show is silly.
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From:wiscck
Date:May 12th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
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Disclaimer: I have never seen Leverage.

But it sounds similar to Hustle. Have you seen that? Also a band of high-tech thieves, but they only scam bad people. Kind of a modern-day Robin Hood, just minus the giving to the poor part. It has Robert Glenister, Marc Warren (being Marc Warren), and Jaime Murray. (I understand people hated her in Dexter, but I like her in this.) It's fun.

And that reminds me, I still haven't seen all of it. I should.

Edited at 2009-05-12 12:44 pm (UTC)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
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I've heard of Hustle (both in conjunction with Jaime Murray and this show) but never seen it. Marc Warren being Marc Warren is always a good time, though!
From:wee_warrior
Date:May 12th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
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The second season premieres Wednesday, July 15, on TNT

Oh, that's awesome, I thought it wouldn't come back before fall. Thanks! *takes note*
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC)
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It looks like they're deliberately scheduling the show during the off-seasons, which is perfect as it doesn't actually increase my TV load excessively!
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From:musesfool
Date:May 12th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
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I knew Aldis Hodge was compelling from FNL and SPN, but I didn't know he was so goddamn FUNNY and CHARMING and AWESOME until Leverage. He is my very favoritest on the show, though Parker is a close second. It's so nice to see a competent, funny geek who is also emotionally and socially mature.

And the show itself is just so much fun.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
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It's so nice to see a competent, funny geek who is also emotionally and socially mature.
Exactly! I mean, he has his moments of awkwardness, but they're because of him and not Because He's a Geek, you know?
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From:truemyth
Date:May 12th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
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LEVERAGE!

\0/
From:dotificus
Date:May 12th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
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Yet another entertainment to entertain me from the font of fabulous recs that is spectralbovine! I feel like about a third of what I'm reading and watching lately splashed into my life via you.

(I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim, btw. Especially the later issues. Y The Last Man was compulsive reading, but almost too over the top.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC)
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I feel like about a third of what I'm reading and watching lately splashed into my life via you.
Awww. Hee!!

(I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim, btw. Especially the later issues.
Yay!

Y The Last Man was compulsive reading, but almost too over the top.)
Over the top, really? Hm. Did you finish it? I think it's less over the top than, uh, Scott Pilgrim! But I hope you enjoyed it anyway.
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From:vonniek
Date:May 12th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
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> She is also a cute blonde, and, to my surprise, this is exploited surprisingly little.

You have no idea how *grateful* I feel about this, since it's so frickin' rare to see this on a TV show. (Much as I love Chuck, all the cheesecake shots of Sarah drives me up the wall.) I love Parker the best of them all, and it's precisely because she cheerfully gives a middle finger to the stereotypical pretty blonde girl cliché. She's crazy good at what she does, she's cheerfully amoral, and she's totally feral in social situations and learning her ropes, and it's such a refreshing change to see a character like this on my screen, I could almost cry.

The show's good at subverting stereotypes like that all across the board. So the strapping black guy is the geek, not the muscle, and the muscle is a tiny Southern man with long hair, and the femme fatale is an older woman! It is AWESOME.

Edited at 2009-05-12 02:30 pm (UTC)
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From:cofax7
Date:May 13th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
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::points upwards::

What Vonnie said. And my recollection is even that they don't do that leering thing with the cameras when they shoot Sophie, even when she is being the femme fatale.

So refreshing compared to shows like SPN. Sigh.
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From:soundingsea
Date:May 12th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
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This show! I love it, because the characters defy stereotypes while having FUN.
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From:evilstmars
Date:May 12th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
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Yay, you love Leverage too! It is basically one of my perfect ideal shows of all time, what with the capers and the quipping and the characters who are awesome and the lack of stupid in most of the plots. It's not without plot holes, but even if I find one, I get the sense that the writers are at least TRYING to keep the show smart and clever in addition to fun.

I also like the little things - like the infighting and lack of perfect coordination that can come from five such separate personalities, and the show's respect for using the skills of all five characters regularly enough that everyone stays awesome and necessary, and that things go wrong - not just sometimes, but frequently. It's one of the two shows my spouse will watch with me - the other being Burn Notice, which has a lot in common with Leverage in terms of tone and topic alike.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 12th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, Burn Notice also seems like a fun show! But, damn, I can't keep adding shows all willy-nilly. More people were squeeing about Leverage, and few people seem to watch Burn Notice.

Things always go wrong, but Team Leverage knows how to improvise!
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From:anifsemaj
Date:May 13th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
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Steal the moon?
Sounds like a plan! Now which one is it - plan A, plan B, plan G or plan M (Eliot likes plan M)
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From:hillridgerpx
Date:May 13th, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)

Off topic

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You might hate me for this? There is this place online,where you can get custom screen printed tshirts,with catchphrases,etc..for 15 bucks?

I'm gonna use the text on your icon,as a way to show support for Veronica Mars,the movie,if thats okay?

If you want,I can give you the url?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:May 13th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Off topic

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My icon was made by kiwikazoo, so you should ask her permission, not mine. In any case, I doubt the VM movie is ever going to happen anyway.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:June 19th, 2009 07:06 am (UTC)
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Leverage actually reminds me a lot of this private eye show that John McNamara (the guy behind Profit/Vengeance Unlimited) did. And I'm fairly certain Harlan Leverage III was a reference to the main character of that show.
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From:squaringkarma
Date:August 28th, 2009 08:52 am (UTC)
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I had forgotten you had enjoyed John's blog before watching the show until rereading this post just now. Now I'm less surprised in retrospect for reading your comment on his "comment here on 2x07" post, heh. I wondered, at the time, how you knew about it if you weren't on Twitter. (Though I do know you lurk on some Twitters even if you don't have an account yourself.)

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