The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bringing the Con

So, for tonight, a little note about one of the few TV shows I watch with some fidelity, Leverage. (Or, better, go here.)

Especially as the show is in limbo as to renewal, and the crew are airing their intended series finale, I thought I would just look back on the show, which is far more than the sum of its parts. Each episode is an entertaining, fast-paced caper flick, in which the Team use their con artistry to steal from those whose wealth insulates them from punishment for their misdeeds, and achieves a measure of justice for the victims.

The cast is uniformly excellent, and two of my favorites Gina Bellman (who killed in Steven Moffat's Coupling) and Timothy Hutton (who owned the role of Archie Goodwin in A Nero Wolfe Mystery, dammit!) This is without disrespect to the rest of the cast--Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, and Christian Kane have become favorites of mine through their work in Leverage, but I wasn't familiar with them before.

The character writing, and the witty, allusive scripts, with a plethora of shout-outs to geek culture, genre fiction, and even the cast's past work keep you guessing and laughing--the writing is at once light as a feather, while being dense with in-jokes. An example: The ex-wife of Hutton's Nate Ford is played by Kari Matchett. This is especially apt, as Matchett also played Julie Jacquette in "Death of a Doxy" to Hutton's Archie Goodwin, and also played Archie's steady love interest, Lily Rowan. In "Death of A Doxy," you can see the embryo of Nate Ford as Mastermind, as well as what showrunners and chief writers Dean Devlin and John Rogers treat as the backstory between Nate and his ex-wife Maggie:

The characters' relationships over the five seasons (thus far) have gradually but pleasingly evolved, with Nate nearly toppling over into darkness as Bellman's Sophie watches horrified. Bellman, as the Team's main grifter, gets to assay a myriad of roles, often broadly comic, often suavely charming. Her long pas-a-deux with Hutton has been a great screwball comedy slow-burn romance. The rest of the Team, known as "the Kids" in distinction to Nate and Sophie, the "parents," are great fun as well. Thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and Geek Hardison (Hodge) have drifted together, as they grow, and Eliot (Kane), the Team Hitter, portrays a loner who has found friendship in the Team. Leverage is gifted at swinging from suspense, to character driven drama (Hutton and Kane especially) and comedy (Hodge and Kane have great Matthau-Lemmon -style bits).

A slight taste:

I get that showrunners Devlin and Rogers are preparing for non-renewal and are taking us out with the series finale they always wanted to do. I'm good with that; finish the story, rather than go away incomplete. But if they are renewed--Leverage II, the Sequel--I'll be watching.

[ETA video from Season 4 finale that I thought I had added. Whoops.]

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