Sunday, October 12, 2008

TV: Leverage

The playoff baseball broadcasts have traditionally been used as a platform to publicize the new fall shows coming from whichever broadcaster is doing any individual games. TNT is doing the Pennant Series (so much better than League Championship Series, don't you think?). One of the new shows it will broadcast later this year is Leverage. I don't know which Canadian network or channels will be broadcasting it, but I intend to watch. It's got a lot of promise.

I saw the pilot weeks ago and actually thought it might have been a failed pilot because I didn't see it on any of the TV Fall Previews I saw. Or maybe a mid-season pick-up. And that saddened me. It's a heist show with a real sense of thriller, but that little spark of humour that always permeates the best in this genre in this century, British TV's Hustle.

Timothy Hutton has reached middle-age. Doesn't seem even yesterday that he was a callow youth with a great acting future ahead of him. His resemblance to his later father Jim is remarkable. He plays the leader and brains of a heist team made up of a cat burglar (played with sexy insouciance by Beth Riesgraf), a martial artist (played by ex-Angel co-star Christian Kane), a flighty actress (played by Mrs. Jekyll herself, Gina Bellman) and a savvy techster (Aldis Hodge, last seen by me in Friday Night Lights).

In the pilot, they go after a slimy corporate executive. The caper goes smoothly, too smoothly. Later, the gang has to go to Plan B to take on the REAL slimy corporate executive, played with relish by Canuck Saul Rubinek, who might be the best in the biz at that kind of role. The caper doesn't go smoothly. Which is why the smooth Plan C results in the emotional and monetary payoff the viewer wants.

Hutton's rationale for the original sting and continued use of his team is something with resonance in today's world. It helps for a bond between the viewer and this band of law-breakers. It's necessary, just at the humourous joking between the gang members is.

It's what made Hustle great and what will likely make Leverage an above-average American attempt at duplicating the show.

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