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.


Hustle: Season 3

Another great set of episodes, keeping the ideas fresh and fluid. Having watched the first three series in close sequence it was a little frustrating that there wasn’t more of an arc for the plot or characters, but it does make it very safe to tune in to each week. Every episode is created equal, so nothing gets short changed or feels like filler. A very clever series that I recommend very strongly.

Hustle: Season 2

This series continues to do all the things it does well and extends the basic concepts that were introduced in the first series. With such long episodes and short seasons the writers can give afford the time to do interesting scenes and moments without having to come up with so many plots – compare for CSI. The guest stars excel in their roles (Fay Ripley being a definite stand-out) playing an array of personalities. The twists and turns of the plots are pretty well signposted and not often a surprise, but this just makes it a very comfortable show to watch. Lots of fun, I’m glad I bought the first 3 seasons all at once so I don’t have to stop in between!

Hustle: Season 1

A high quality, extraordinarily well produced bbc drama, and not a corset in sight! This had been recommended to me by several people, but I was sceptical; how could it compare to the big budget counterparts from the US. But I was wrong to doubt. This show is wonderfully produced with style, charm, and a slick understatedness that many US shows could learn from. After the first few episodes I learnt to spot the twists, but the show was still very enjoyable thanks to the strong acting, quirky direction, perky soundtrack and familiar locations.