Over the past few years, cable channel TNT has become known for drama. With a mix of re-runs and original television, they are beginning to give regular channels a run for the money. But last December, with the advent of their new Robin Hood-esque series Leverage, they really raised the bar.
With tag-lines like
and the whining beat of Duffy's "Mercy" backing the commercials, they amped up an ad campaign that really made viewers sit up and notice. Eye catching graphics and a stunning cast rounded out the reason to catch the show.
Ex-insurance agent, Nate Ford, leads a gang of semi-redeemed thieves and cons as they attempt to take over where the law leaves off. The group of lone wolves was brought together by Dubenich, a man who said his airplane plans had been stolen. When it turned out that he lied, didn't pay them, and tried to kill them...the criminals were out for revenge. (Parker upon finding they didn't get paid, confronts the group with the words, "My money's not in my account. That makes me cry inside, in my special, angry place.")
Eliot: He tried to kill us.
Parker: More importantly he didn't pay us.
Eliot: How is that more important?
Parker: I take that personally.
Eliot: There's somethin' wrong with you.
Nate draws them back together by promising them each what would most appeal to them:
Eliot: What's in it for me?
Nate: Payback. And if it goes right, a lot of money.
Parker: What's in it for me?
Nate: A lot of money. And if it goes right, payback.
Knowing they need one more thing, Nate and the others pay a visit to an old friend. Sophie Devereaux, the worst actress you've ever met...unless she's breaking the law.
Not without issues, the group does manage to work together and bring down the "baddie". At the end of the episode, they agree to scatter...but as Nate turns to walk away, they one by one rejoin him...citing the reasons they should stay together. Nate protests; reminding them that they are norming on the wrong sides of the law, but Sophie gently persuaded him by making the deal that he could pick the clients.
Through-out the season, the team (using their specific skills of grifter, hitter, hacker, and thief and pulled together by the brains of the man who chased them all) to con and manipulate the "bad" men that Nate finds. In addition, sometimes they also find the clients. The teamwork isn't without it's bumps (most memorable are when Parker pushes Hardison off a building or Eliot threatens that "Oh, I'm gonna punch somebody."), but overall they work well together. In the end, the show ends with a wrap-up that can be a show ender or a continuation for a new season.
Only picked up for thirteen episodes, TNT made a happy fanbase ecstatic when they quickly renewed Leverage for a second season. Already filming in Portland, Oregon (a new venue for this season), Leverage's second season looks to be even hotter than the first.
In the words of Nathan Ford...
"All right, let's go break the law... just one more time."
Speaking of breaking the law...the producers couldn't just tell the cast and writers that they had been signed for a second year:
From the TNT site:
About the Show
TNT set Tuesday nights on fire this past winter with the first season of this thrilling, fast-paced drama series starring Oscar® winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People). This summer, the gang is back with more elaborate scams designed to exact revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize people. Hutton stars as Nate Ford, a former insurance investigator determined to bring down the kind of corrupt bigwigs whose neglect led to the death of his son. His highly skilled team includes Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman – Coupling), a grifter who uses her acting skills to corner her marks; Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane – TNT's Into the West), a "retrieval specialist" with bone-crunching fighting skills; Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge – Friday Night Lights), a gadget and technology wizard who keeps the team connected and informed; and Parker (Beth Riesgraf – Alvin and the Chipmunks), a slightly off-center thief adept at repelling off buildings or squeezing into tight places. Together, the team puts their energy, quick minds and keen intellects toward securing justice for society's underdogs.
LEVERAGE, which is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT's The Librarian movies), has scored big in its first season, ranking as ad-supported cable's #1 show in its timeslot.
Meet the Team:
Nathan "Nate" Ford:
Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, Timothy Hutton, (best known for Taps and Ordinary People) plays Nathan Ford.
From the TNT site:
Good-looking and still sharp, despite the layers of insomnia and hangover damage he's accumulating as fast as he can. Nate was an expert at recovering stolen items...until the insurance company he worked for (I.Y.S.) refused to pay for his 8-year-old son Sam's "experimental" treatment. When his son died a couple of years ago, Nate went on the skids. In the pilot, Dubenich hires him as the one honest man to keep a group of thieves in check. Now, Nate leads the team to right injustices, funded by their unique take on "alternate revenue stream". He has a long catch-and release history with Sophie, who is the only team member he selected himself.
New Zeland born and England raised Gina Bellman (best known for BBC shows "Coupling" and Jekyll") plays grifter Sophie Devereaux.
From the TNT site:
Sophie has dark eyes and lips you find yourself staring at while she's talking. Where Parker's a stiletto, Sophie is all curves and mist. She's a seductress capable of convincingly playing any character or nationality... as long as it's not on an actual theatrical stage where she will overact magnificently. She may very well be in love with Nate.
Christian Kane (best known for Angel and Love Song) in addition to acting on Leverage fronts the Southern Rock/Country band, Kane when he's not playing Eliot Spencer.
From the TNT site:
Eliot is not a large guy, but he is deceptively dangerous. His coiled and precise movements belie his quiet cowboy charm. He doesn't like guns and, it turns out, doesn't need them. Despite his rep as a tough guy, he is an apparent whiz in the kitchen and known to take the occasional manly sip of tea. Delicious.
Beth Riesgraf (best known for "My Name is Earl" and Alvin and the Chimpmunks) plays Parker.
From the TNT site:
Petite, cute, blonde... and a social pariah. Parker's idea of fun would scare the living daylights out of most people. She has neither modesty nor fear of heights. Like Hardison, Parker grew up in the foster care system, but her tale is one of abuse and neglect. She's insecure about only one thing: her ability to pass herself off as a normal person.
Aldis Hodge (best known for "Supernatural", "Numb3rs", and Happy Feet) plays Alec Hardison.
From the TNT site:
Internet and computer fraud
Young, thick-shouldered, and looks like he should be playing pro ball. But Hardison's tall good looks are counter to type; he's actually a geek of the first order and an expert at all things electronic. He loves orange soda...and might have a bit of a crush on Parker.
Now TNT had a little mishap when they aired the first season. For reasons unknown (to me anyway), they did not air them in the order they were supposed to be shown in. So the following list is the actual viewing order (but not the airing order):
1.) The Nigerian Job
2.) The Homecoming Job
3.) The Wedding Job
4.) The Snow Job
5.) The Mile High Job
6.) The Miracle Job
7.) The Two Horse Job
8.) The Bank Shot Job
9.) The Stork Job
10.) The Juror #6 Job
11.) The 12 Step Job
12.) The First David Job
13.) The Second David Job
**This was the list complied by The Rewatch Job LJ Community, when they began re-viewing the episodes (mostly because of somethings that make more sense when the episodes are aired in this order--i.e. Eliot's explanation about his background and Nate's downward spiral). As far as I know there has been no "official" release on what order they were supposed to be aired in.
(You can also judge what order they were filmed in by the length of Eliot's hair--if you watch it that closely--just saying and no I didn't notice that, someone else did and pointed it out to me.)
Complete episodes are available for download at:
Some Sneak Peeks to give you an idea of how the show goes. All of the following links are videos so give them a moment or two to load. Most from the TNT site, but one is from youTube.
Sneak Peek "The Nigerian Job":
First look at Eliot's fighting, Hardison's hacking, (the contrast between the slow-mo bag drop and Eliot's quick moving style is totally awesome)--first idea that Eliot has something against guns.
Eliot to Hardison: "That's what I do."
Nate to Hardison: "Drop the spike."
Eliot to Hardison: "Did you give them a virus?"
Hardison to Eliot: "Dude, I gave them more than one virus."
Sneak Peek "The Wedding Job":
A look at not so calm Nate and some of Eliot's "other" skills.
Eliot to Nate: "What you thought all I knew how to do was bash heads?"
Nate to Eliot: "No." *sort of shrug* "Well, yeah."
Eliot to Nate: "Look, hold a knife like this, cuts through an onion. Hold a knife like this, cuts through like eight Yakuza in four seconds. Screams. Carnage. People are like knives, everything's in context."
Sneak Peek "The Mile High Job":
Explanation by the clients to Nate and Sophie, with the rest of the team in attendance; then the team scams Genagrove--looking for information.
Sophie: "Means they're hiding something."
Nate: "Means there's a smoking gun. And we...are going to find it."
Sophie: "I work out on the dance floor."
Sophie: "You are good with your hands, I think. Wie. You are my hero."
Sneak Peek "The Two Horse Job":
Briefing about the mark--Alan Foss--by Hardison with interruptions by the team. A good look at F
Eliot: "The massacre. The massacre."
Parker: "I just really don't like horses."
Hardison: "Now how do we get the damn horse?"
Nate: "Miss Devereaux, how is your Southern Belle?"
Sneak Peek "The Bank Shot Job":
Parker and Hardison appear as FBI agents at a bank where Nate and Sophie are being held hostage.
Parker: "It's embarrassing. Everybody knows you don't rob a bank without an exit strategy. Those two deserve to get caught. Forty-two seconds."
Parker: "To rob this bank."
Hardison to police chief: "You're adorable." (This line will show up later in the series at other times.)
Sneak Peek "The Second David Job" (Season One Finale):
Nate sets up Stirling and Blackpoole, the rest of the team stakes out the museum--and almost gets nabbed.
Hardison to Eliot: "I'm gonna kick your butt."
Parker to Sophie: "Run now, talk later."
And a couple of behind the scenes videos...they even have fun when the "real" cameras aren't rolling:
Which actor is most like their character? Interviews with the actors on who is most like their character--it's amusing what they conclude.
Fearless Female!--Beth Riesgraf aka Parker A look at some of the stunt work that Beth does as Parker
Meet Apollo...the pickpocket Every show has to have a technical advisor--meet Leverage's.
On-Line Leverage sites to feed the need:
TNT Official Site
Season 2 filming day one blog
John Rodgers Talks Leverage
IMDB Site This is very basic at the moment, the TNT and TV.com sites are much, much better.
John Rodgers (one of the writers/producers of the show) has an on-line blog--he's pretty good about updating and when they're filming it's often Leverage related. Kung Fu Monkey
Provide Leverage LJ Community
The Rewatch Job LJ Community
Fan Fiction to Hold You Over Until the New Season Starts
The Lightning Job
Decisions that I Make
Five Times Sophie Went Shopping
Watch Over You
10 Things You Don't Know About Me (Sophie)
Ten Things YOU Don't Know About ME (Nate)
Handful of Bad Luck
So hopefully that gives you a little idea of what the show is about and some places to look if you want to find out more. At this point, they haven't released an air date for the new season, but they will be re-airing episodes on Fridays it looks like beginning April 24th.
"Get Ready to Get Even..."