Stars: Aldis Hodge, Beth Riesgraf, Christian Kane, Gina Bellman, Timothy Hutton | Created by Chris Downey, John Rogers
In the United Kingdom we had a show called Hustle. The basic concept was to take a group of grifters and each episode they would take part in some type of heist, when watching Leverage: Complete Season 4 which has just been released on DVD in the UK I can’t help but feel that it’s like Hustle meets the A-Team. Where Hustle focused more on the heist and making money, Leverage though looks to add a moral side to art of grifting giving the victims the “Leverage” to get revenge on the people who have wronged them.
Leverage works on a basic concept of setting up a bad guy, in this case they must always be rich and will have gained these riches in an unmoral way. Like in the A-Team each episode starts with the wronged poor person turning up at the Leverage team’s door asking for help. This is a formula that has worked before and works again, for the most important part and this is the characters.
When looking at the team the characters are also quite reminiscent of Hustle. We have Nathan Ford played by Timothy Hutton who is the group elder who pulls the plans together. Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) is almost the second in command character who has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to heists and always helps Ford with his plans, she often asks as the main catalyst for putting the plans into action with the use of her charms. Then we have Eliot Spencer played by Christian Kane, who most of us will remember from Angel as Lindsey. Spencer is the muscle of the team who often partners up with Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) the gadget expert/hacker. Then we have Parker played by Beth Riesgraf the master thief who has joined the team to do good, through through her life has been programmed to be something of a machine.
In each episode we get to see them at work, whether it be through simple money grabs, solving murders, even having to handle kidnapping situations they find themselves in the middle of. What makes these situations interesting is that these characters have heart and they care. Yes, in the past they’ve been cold-hearted and gone for the money, but now they are looking to make a change. It’s the typical American style of show where morality has to take the forefront. In Leverage it works though because you tend to care for the characters, even if you’ve only seen this one actual season.
One thing I will say about Leverage: Complete Season 4 is that the first few episodes do seem to lack a spark and stick rigidly to the formula the show works by. We slowly see the seasons story arc come into play, but this only really comes into effect during the last few episodes, but these episodes especially the two-part finale are explosive and very well thought out. The fact that the first part pay homage to Die Hard and even has Doctor Who references (including the fact that bow ties are cool) will have many geeks smiling just because they are put in there so well. Also in these last few episodes we have the important guest stars with Tom Skerritt returning as Ford’s father, Richard Chamberlain making a return as Archie Leach and Wil Wheaton back as Colin Mason the in-jokes and pop culture references go crazy. It’s nice to see Chamberlain on such fine form.
Leverage: Complete Season 4 works because it keeps the atmosphere of the show light and there is a feel good element to the conclusion of the stories, though I do admit I do prefer the less moralistic style of Hustle. Looking at Leverage without comparing the two though this is what you can typically expect from an American television show of this style, and that is not said in a negative way. It’s high action, good chemistry between characters and it knows exactly what its audience wants from it. That for me makes it a winner.
Leverage: Complete Season 4 is out now on DVD.