Leverage: Season 1

I very much enjoyed this series, it’s slick, smart and bucket loads of fun. It’s clearly very heavily inspired by the BBC series Hustle, both in content and style, but as with most things American it does it with more money and noise.

Leverage differs from Hustle in that its characters are clearly and deliberately breaking the law for the good of the little people; proper Robin Hood stuff. Hustle was always a bit more on the side that they were crooks, mostly taking money from bad people and occasionally sharing the wealth, but still criminals wanted by the police. Leverage’s plots rarely feature the police at all, keeping the moral ambiguities to a minimum, you can happily cheer for the team without feeling bad.

The plots are clever enough to be satisfying while being predictable enough to be comfortable easy watching. The heists and cons are well thought out and there’s a nice balance between things not going to plan and requiring improvisation and things going entirely to plan, just not necessarily the plan that the audience was led to believe. It plays with jumping timelines in the same way that Hustle does, rewinding the episode to see what really happened, although on occasions the explanations are a little unnecessary, a bit too patronising.

The gang of characters is cute and extremely likeable, each very competent in their speciality and pretty clueless about everything else. I particularly enjoyed the team trying to teach cat burglar Parker to be a bit more socially aware over the season, and for the most part completely failing. They’re all pretty unabashed when it comes to their weaknesses, they know what they’re good at and just ignore everything else. Even Nate happily embraces his alcoholism declaring that the keyword in ‘functioning alcoholic’ is ‘functioning’. Watching them bicker but inevitably come together as a team is a lot of fun.

It’s a relatively short season of 13 episodes and they really maintained the pace. The standard American network seasons of 20+ episodes can really drag, but these ‘summer’ shows with shorter runs are really able to focus and produce consistently high quality episodes. I’m really looking forward to the second season.

Links: official site, wikipedia, imdb, tv.com.

Season 1 has just finished showing on Bravo, but there’s no information on when they will reshow that, or show season 2. Season 3 starts on TNT in the US in June.

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