Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day Three Hundred and Thirteen - Leverage: Pilot, "It Takes A Thief Meets the A-Team... Week to Week."

I've been on a pilot kick recently, for two reasons: first, with NaNoWriMo eating up the majority of my time, I really don't have time for movies, and second, instead of just going down the list of one particular series, I want to give the blog a variety of different programs. Granted, so far, it seems to be either Anime or Adventure series, but still... due diligence. I'll try and slide in a few documentary or reality shows this coming week, but today it's another modern actioner... Leverage.

Part of TNT's lineup of feel good action-dramas, Leverage rides the fine line between black hats and vigilante justice as a former insurance investigator rounds up half a dozen of his former adversaries to take down corrupt individuals and corporations who have beaten down regular folk like us. Like the A-Team, Mission:Impossible, and It Takes a Thief, each weekly episode covers a confidence job set to balance the scales between the evil takers and the little folk they've wronged through the use of the specialist skills of each team member, be they cat burglars, grifters, hackers, etc..

In this first episode, the team is assembled at the behest of a supposedly wronged aerospace engineer who convinces team leader Nate (Timothy Hutton) to take down a high profile competitor by making it personal. I say "supposedly" because, after the job is done, the engineer double-crosses them... revealing that he was the corrupt big bad all along.

I do like the series, for several reasons.

First of all, as evidenced in this and every other episode, Leverage plays for the little guy. It's a feel good show that feeds on my innate desire stick it to the man through superior mental skills. A very "nyah, nyah, we got you" sort of juvenile fantasy.

Second, it definitely banks on its cool factor. Whether it's the hip jazz soundtrack or the very Ocean's Eleven mentality when it comes to cinematography and pacing, Leverage keeps its quirky stable of characters amped with style and likability. You don't just want them to succeed, you want to watch them exude that certain je ne sais quoi as they go from first act setup to second act false finish to third act "we had you all along." It's very formulaic and predictable, but fun... all to smokey club tunes that sit well with an Old Fashioned.

Finally, I like how its packaged. Like other episodic adventures that were mentioned previously, its a bite-sized adventure that gives you a gamut of emotions over the course of the forty to fifty minutes or so of content. There's mild tension where necessary and satisfying comeuppance in the climax and falling action when the tricks and misdirects are revealed. Sure, it's beyond predictable, but that's sort of pleasing in its own way.

If you're into these sorts of episodic, feel good actioners, Leverage definitely works. The pilot here establishes everyone in a balanced fashion and gives you a satisfying series of twists and turns. Worth watching for groundbreaking content? Probably not, but it is the kind of series that is easy to have on in the background, good for its palliative effects after a long day of being ground down by the system.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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