TNT’s new drama Leverage isn’t likely to win the network any Emmys. It isn’t ground-breaking, or thought-provoking, or even remotely plausible most of the time. But you know what it is? A heck of a lot of fun.
Oscar-winner Timothy Hutton stars as a down-on-his-luck former insurance investigator who teams up with a band of professional thieves, hackers and con artists to pull off a high-tech heist, and ends up forming a modern day Robin Hood and his Merry Men (and Women). That’s right, these career criminals up and decide to start stealing from the rich and greedy and donating their spoils to the Little Guys who’ve been screwed by the Man. Ridiculous? Absolutely. But it may be just the kind of television comfort food audiences are looking for in the current economic climate.
The best thing about Leverage is definitely its ensemble cast, which is pleasingly populated with familiar television faces: Gina Bellman (Coupling, Jekyll) as the chameleon-like grifter, Christian Kane (Angel) as the muscle, Aldis Hodge (Friday Night Lights‘ Ray “Voodoo” Tatum) as the computer geek, and Beth Riesgraf (Jason Lee’s ex-fiancé–probably best known for being mom to the infamously-named Pilot Inspektor) as the skyscraper-scaling thief. They’re all quirky enough and bicker amusingly enough to keep the show smoothly entertaining, despite its flaws.
Ah, the flaws. To start with, Leverage is definitely on the style-over-substance ticket. It wants very badly to be as cool as the Ocean’s movies, to the extent that you might even call it a blatant rip-off. Fine. But you know what? I love the Ocean’s movies. Even the bad ones. Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a little style over substance.
Okay, Leverage‘s plots have more holes than a Dunkin’ Donuts, but the direction is impressively slick and the writing dependably snappy. The double- and triple-crosses are predictable to anyone versed in the caper genre, as are the resolutions (in fact, one of the twists in the pilot is lifted straight out of Ocean’s 11), but somehow that doesn’t make the journey any less intoxicating.
So sit back, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the ride. Because if you’re someone (like me) who watches a show like Bones for the goofy banter between the ensemble cast, or Burn Notice for the cool-yet-inane subterfuge, then Leverage is for you.
And I’m not just saying that because the nice folks at TNT sent us a Leverage beverage (which, by the way, tasted like rancid Sweet Tarts with an aftertaste of baby aspirin).
Leverage premieres on TNT Sunday, Dec. 7, at 10 p.m. Eastern, before moving to its regular time slot on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.