The problem, for me, with good stuff is that I put it off until I have time to enjoy it. (Mediocre stuff, that’s easy to buzz through without having to pay full attention.) Soon, I’m several weeks/issues/episodes behind. On the plus side, that means I can give myself a mini-marathon. That’s how I found myself watching four episodes of Leverage and looking forward to more.
The Stork Job
A couple is trying to adopt a baby in Serbia, only to be fleeced. I thought this ran the risk of being sappy, especially when it started triggering crazy thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf)’s orphanage memories, but it soon got terrific, with a con involving an overseas low-budget movie production. Hardison (Aldis Hodge) does a great job of balancing out Parker’s crazy by providing balance and sympathy to her sometimes one-note character.
That setup allowed the crew to take on ridiculous personalities, with Nate (Timothy Hutton) as the overbearing director, Eliot (Christian Kane) as the bankrolling cowboy, and Sophie (Gina Bellman) as actress, of course. It’s the throwaway dialogue bits that I enjoy most. When discussing tracking someone who was a former French fashion model, several of the group turn out to be nostalgic Emmanuelle fans. It’s familiar hearing phrases like “that’s when they rebooted the franchise”, although I wonder when that becamse common enough language to use on a TV show.
The Wedding Job
A more humorous premise this time, as the gang sets themselves up as wedding planners for a mobster’s daughter’s ceremony in order to steal money the crook owes a patsy’s family. Parker and Hardison again set up as a pair of FBI agents, which works well, since they’re both capable of saying almost anything with a poker face, and they’re both the most honest and direct about their thefts, which makes for tasty contrast.
Hardison has become my favorite character. Later, he and tough-guy Eliot are talking about past heartbreak:
Eliot: “She married somebody else.”
Hardison: “Damn, what did you do?”
Eliot: “What did I do? I liberated Croatia.”
Hardison: “Well, see, now, me, I’d've just got fat and started up a comic book shop.”
This episode wasn’t as twisty as some of the others, unfortunately, and it succumbs to some obvious jokes — like a ridiculously atrocious bridesmaid dress — but still entertaining. Nicole Sullivan (MadTV) does a good job as the crazy mob wife.
The Mile-High Job
A little sanctimonious, which is the show’s biggest flaw. They’ve helped orphans and wounded war veterans and priests already, for goodness’ sake. Here, they have to find a “smoking gun” document to prove an evil company knew their pesticide caused a little girl’s death. It’s all just setup to get them onto a plane quickly for a locked-room-style episode in a limited setting. I don’t mind — I think constraints of that sort show the characters off well. “The Bank Shot Job” was similar, where Nate and Sophie were taken hostage in a bank robbery along with their mark.
Then Sara Rue (Popular, The Big Bang Theory) showed up, as a nervous passenger. She’s a very talented comedian, but Hardison, left on the ground, once again steals the show as a BS-ing management consultant type. Favorite geek moment: Nate’s aliases are all actors who’ve played Doctor Who.
The Snow Job
It’s another timely economic villain: a greedy contractor taking advantage of a hard-working man whose house was foreclosed on. The contractor, played by Sam Anderson, previously worked with Christian Kane on Angel, by the way, while one of the sons is Danny Strong (Jonathan from Buffy). A few too many characters for a clever triple cross; instead, the con’s just about getting the marks to trust them until necessary.
Tuesday night has “The 12-Step Job”, about a swindled charity (timely!) and a broker in rehab. Then, the week after (February 10), comes a nerd-fest: guest stars include Star Trekkers Brent Spiner and Armin Shimmerman (as well as Lauren Holly), and the episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker).
I’m kind of surprised I’m still enjoying this series, but for every bum episode, there’s a better one. I would gladly buy a DVD set with some juicy extras.
If I’m watching a bunch of TV vigilantes with amazing powers work outside the law to bring justice to those who can’t achieve it on their own, then no wonder I don’t feel like reading many superhero comics any more. This is more rewarding, and even if they don’t have costumes (only disguises), they’re still a great adventure team with interesting personalities and quirks.
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