I was pretty sure that Leverage had jumped the shark.
Season three was just so-so and the first
couple of episodes in the fourth season weren't much better. Against all odds however, Leverage
Season Four quickly gets the show
telling the type of stories that it tells best:
fun, light, adventure with a lot of action and humor.
Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) was an insurance investigator who
was excellent at retrieving stolen art objects for his company. That all ended when the same company wouldn't
pay for his son's medical treatment and the boy died.
With his son gone, his marriage dissolved and
Nate started drinking heavily. He was a
step away from being homeless when a job opportunity fell into his lap: he started to run cons with a group of
top-rate thieves. They don't just steal
from anyone though, they target the rich and powerful who have used
position to hurt innocent people and hide behind the law.
A sort of modern day Robin Hood and his Merry
The group consists of Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), a
wanna-be actress who is absolutely horrible on stage, but once she's
in a con becomes the greatest grifter in the world, Eliot Spencer
Kane), the 'retrieval expert' and the group's muscle, Alec Hardison
Hodge) the expert hacker, and Parker (the incredibly intoxicating Beth
who is a pick-pocket, a safe cracker, and totally crazy.
Together they prey on the weaknesses and
vanity of the corrupt and unscrupulous to help the down trodden. As they say in the show's opening every week,
they "provide a little leverage."
The last couple of seasons had a larger over-arching subplot
that would thread its way through the entire season only to be resolved
finale. These bigger stories were weak
and failed to capture the energy that makes the show so fun. So I was disappointed when this season starts
out by setting the ground work for having another super-secret group go
against Nate's team. When they find a
very sophisticated bug planted in Nate's apartment at the end of the
episode, I sighed deeply. Didn't they
just do that last season?
Luckily, saner minds prevailed and the 'who's spying on us'
subplot is largely ignored for the whole season. It
does pop up for a minute or two in a
couple of episodes, but that's all.
Instead the creative team concentrates on what makes the show
one of the
most enjoyable action shows on TV: the
team and their cons.
There were a lot of solid shows this season, only the first
couple didn't work as well as they should have, and it's hard to pick
one or two to highlight. The
Office Job was a hilarious parody of The Office,
and in Leverage's version
Werner Hertzog-like director is filming the day-to-day activities of a
greeting card company. The group has to
take down the clueless CEO who inherited the firm before it's sold. It's worth watching for the German director's
comments on the futility of life.
Long time fans will also appreciate the reappearance of some
characters from earlier seasons. Peggy,
who made friends with Parker's alias, Alice, in The Juror
#6 job from season one returns (as does the running gag
about Parker thinking that Alice is another person) and Jack Hurley
Powell) the taco-loving financial planner from The
Twelve-Step Job pops up again and tries to get Nate to stop
drinking. That's not all either, as some
of the group's worst enemies step on stage once again too.
The show is much lighter this season, and that's a good thing. They eschewed the more serious drama and
focused on keeping it fun and fast. As
has been the case since the beginning, Leverage
isn't a show that's connected to reality.
Their cons are absurd and only go wrong when that's part of
bigger plan, and sometimes even their goals are ludicrous.
(In this season a grad student genetically
engineers a potato that is high in vitamins and nutrients.
When she refuses to sell it to a big
agricultural concern, the company steals an actual potato from the
they put it in a foam-lined steel box and lock it away in a vault. That's ludicrous on many levels including the
fact that her research would not have yielded only one potato and that
able to reproduce it without too much trouble.) That's
what makes the show so much fun. It has a Mission: Impossible feel to it where anything
can and will happen. Yes, viewers have
to be willing to suspend their disbelief to a greater extent than many
shows, but that's not too hard to do when the program is so fun and
This season takes some risks too, and they mostly pay
off. Plot wise Nate and Sophie get
romantically involved, and Parker starts to realize that she has
Hardison, something that has never happened to her before.
Usually when a show gets the man and woman
together things get awkward (as it did in Cheers)
but so far the writers have been able to keep it interesting without
compromising the main thrust of the show.
There were a few unique episodes too. The Van
Gogh Job has the team protecting an 85 year old WWII vet from some
who think he has a missing masterpiece that he picked up when he was
Hitler. The twist is that the man is
black, and he had to leave his small town home and join the Army
fell in love with a white woman. He
tells his story through flashbacks were the Leverage
actors take on the roles of the people back in 1942.
It worked very well, and was a surprisingly
They also link two episodes in an entertaining way later in
the season. In The Girls'
Night Out Job Parker, Sophie, and Tara stumble upon a
heist that may topple a government while they're out just having fun. They've left the guys behind to play poker,
but Parker calls Hardison a couple of times over the course of the
with each call he's in a stranger predicament.
The next episode, The Boys' Night
Out Job revealed what happened when Nate, Hardison, and Eliot
to play cards. It was an interesting way
to tell the two stories, and it was a lot of fun.
The 18 episodes that make up this season come on four DVDs
that are stored in a single width keepcase.
The show has a DD 5.1 English soundtrack that suits the
program. The infrequent explosions and
gun fights make use of the whole soundstage putting the viewer right in
middle of the action. The rest of the
time the track does a good job of throwing incidental sounds to various
of the room, such as when a helicopter flies over head or when a car
by. It's a good solid soundtrack.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 image was surprisingly
mediocre. While most of the show looked
fine, there were a few times when the image was marred by defects. Some scenes (mainly when the sky was a
majority of the image) were grainy and looked a bit faded, and there
couple of instances where the blacks were crushed pretty significantly. (For example, in the last episode, The Last
Dam Job, look at Latimer's black jacket at 24:37.) Aliasing
cropped up too, mainly in the
backgrounds. I was disappointed a recent
show wouldn't have a bit higher quality.
On the plus side, these are minor issues. I
asked my wife and kids what they thought of
the picture and they didn't notice it until I pointed it out to them.
The set comes with some nice bonus material. First
off each episode has a commentary track
by various members of the cast and crew, which are quite nice. Though I haven't listened to all of them yet,
it's nice that they took the time to create a commentary for every show. The video extras are a bit light though. There's a start off with a short
behind-the-scenes featurette which is pretty generic, a six-minute look
writers in "The Writer's Room Job" that was nice and a parody of one of
episodes. There are also deleted scenes
for four of the episodes, and a gag reel that has some good moments in
A step up in quality from season three, the fourth season of
Leverage is fun, energetic, and
immensely entertaining. The first couple
of episodes are a bit bland, but after those the show picks up the pace
fires on all cylinders. Highly