TNT’s terrific bad-guys-turned-good series, Leverage [Sundays, 9/8], returns this weekend with a challenge unlike any they’ve ever had before – to pull off a caper on mountain, in a blizzard!
Leverage returns this evening [TNT, 9/8C] with a… unique Christmas episode that finds the team enlisted to restore a fired Santa’s reputation – he was fired for allegedly being drunk on the job.
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On the renewal of these three hit series, Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) had this to say to the media. “TNT has enjoyed tremendous success on Sunday and Monday nights with Leverage, The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles. All three shows feature terrific casts, sharp writing and top-notch production teams. We look forward to continued success with new seasons in 2011.”
The Closer, which continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, will return for its seventh season. Rizzoli & Isles, which currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date, will return for a second season. Leverage, which is performing exceptionally well in its new Sunday timeslot, will be back for a fourth season. TNT has ordered 15 episodes each of The Closer and Leverage, along with 13 episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, with all three slated to start their new seasons in 2011. Continue reading Television: TNT Orders New Seasons of Three Hit Series: The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles and Leverage
After sitting through the first four episodes of TNT’s new series Leverage [premieres Sunday, 10/9C, then moves to Tuesday, 10/9C] – one of the easiest assignments of my career, it occurred to me that TNT’s motto could be modified to read, “We Know Dramedy.” Leverage, like its fellow TNT shows The Closer, Saving Grace and Raising the Bar, does have its moments of drama – but like those other show [okay, excepting Raising the Bar], it makes frequent use of wit, charm and humor.
Former insurance investigator Nathan Ford [Timothy Hutton] put has a team put together to steal a supposedly stolen set of plan for a new aircraft on the series premiere, The Nigerian Job. Part of the reason he takes the job is because that insurance company, for which he saved untold millions of dollars in claims, refused his son’s medical treatment and the boy died.
The other four members of the team – grafter Sophie Deveraux [Gina Bellman – Coupling], retrieval specialist Eliot Spencer [Christian Kane – Into the West, Angel], cat burglar Parker [Beth Riesgraf] and hi-tech thief Alec Hardison [Aldis Hodge – Friday Night Lights] – aren’t especially interested in doing the right thing. For them, the money is where it’s at.
Leverage is smart, showing its influences without losing its own identity. One of the keys to its success is that Ford puts together his team from thieves he’s taken on in his old job. As the team leader and token “honest man,” Hutton takes the still grief-stricken Ford and gives him enough dramatic weight that he anchors the show as well as the team.
The rest of the cast fills out their roles in various idiosyncratic ways – all of which work, because series creators John Rogers [Transformers, Global Frequency] and Chris Downey [The King of Queens] have written them with a depth that is striking. There are also twists on the standard caper personalities, the biggest of which is that, whereas the “crazy” member of the team is usually a guy, here it’s beautiful, blonde Parker. That’s only one of many variations of the usual themes that sets Leverage apart – in a good way.
Over the first four eps, the team will steal top secret plans; save a church; tackle the ownership of a thoroughbred and deal with a Blackwater-type mercenary company. In each case, the caper is different – especially when the man who moved into Ford’s old office [played by Mark A. Sheppard, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica] appears on one of their cases!
Final Grade: B+