Cedric here! Cooking up more American broadcast TV, and another pre-air titbit for your delicate geek viewing palettes.
The ideas behind Leverage are simple but slickly presented in a charming and entertaining way. In terms of the style this has very much the feel of an American version of the BBC’s Hustle, although the premise is slightly different.
A former insurance investigator leads a motley crew of criminals, who use their unique skills to put right wrongs, and take on the corporate super-rich, organised crime and corrupt politicians. My first reaction was that this is a modern A-Team, as one of them is certifiably insane. But there are other nods to Mission Impossible, and various conmen capered productions.
If this sounds crass and possibly quite dumb it could so easily end up that, but somehow manages to elevate itself into something quite good.
If Leverage has a secret weapon it’s the quality of the actors they’ve hired, fronted by the excellent Timothy Hutton as ex-insurance fraud investigator, Nate Ford. He plays the world weary honest man to perfection, pursuing his new career as gamekeeper turned poacher only as a response to the death of his son. The angle that his son died because an insurance company wouldn’t cover the medical expenses might seem overly concocted, but it works well enough to get us accepting his motivations.
The rest of his team are presented as obvious stereotypes, but manage to subvert most of those quite neatly by the end of the pilot. I was especially impressed with Christian Kane as hard-man Eliot Spencer. Who while impersonating an IT person quotes some Klingon, much to the annoyance of their real technical geek played by Aldis Hodge.
Another quirky performance also comes from Beth Riesgraf, as the unhinged Parker, consummate cat-burglar and the product of a violent upbringing. But the final jewel in this ensemble is the wonderful Gina Bellman (Jekyll), a down on her luck grifter reduced to playing repertory theatre. She’s obviously in the mix to provide some more interesting back-story to Hutton’s character as the show progresses, and unleash her legendary ability to flirt.
The problem, if there is one, is that the 42 minute running time of the pilot doesn’t really have much more time than to introduce the characters and then give a few subtle hints about how this show might develop. But even in that short space of time it was funny and engaging, and shows some genuine promise.
The show runner, director, producer and writer of the pilot is Dean Devlin, who also wrote Independence Day and the Stargate movie screenplays. So unless this show requires a presidential speech, it’s in relatively good hands for an action-drama.Compared with the horrible remake of Life on Mars, this looks like a real possibility to complete its 13 show order.
I liked what I saw of Leverage, and want to see some more!