Leverage, TNT's heist show about a group of thieves who help the poor recover what was taken unjustly from them, returns for a second season. What? You missed the first season and have never actually heard of the show? Well, you're not the only one. But by all accounts the first season was a glowing success. Its premiere episode in December 2008 nabbed 5 million viewers and over the course of its thirteen-episode season it averaged around 3 million viewers. It also scored a 69/100 on Metacritic.com including raves from USA Today and Entertainment Weekly.
So now, appropriately, they are back. The series revolves around Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton), an insurance fraud investigator who is out to avenge his son's death, which he blames on a wealthy insurance company, and his team of four. At the end of last season the team was dissolved (time for a fresh start) but that poses no problem at all to the writers who have this particular band back together in less than ten minutes. Soon they are back at work on a new case, which involves a silly car crash and a stolen briefcase. Using their skills and the help of a little girl the team must retrieve the briefcase and restore order to the world. It is the kind of hokum overpaid, soulless TV writers come up with in their sleep.
The show isn't a grand disaster that comes about from trying hard and failing hard, but rather it is a product of extreme apathy. Pump out cliches, don't offend anybody and everybody will get paid. How anybody can watch this and not slip into a boredom induced coma remains a mystery. The stance it takes on wealth and privilege is also questionable. All of these main characters have jobs that are seen as sexy by society. We get an insurance fraud investigator, an actress, a weapons expert and an explosives expert but certainly no janitor, exterminator or retail worker. The show positions the protagonists as modern day Robin Hoods using current technology to stick it to The Man, and that is fine, but it also creates the impression that the poor are hopeless without the altruistic help of the rich. No biggie, but food for thought.
Throughout the first season Nathan Ford and team produced a weekly snooze fest in which they fight against societal evils such as corporations, Wall Street brokers and the mob, and considering the success of that season one would be wise to expect nothing less this time around. Sadly that leaves the viewer with little suspense other than the question of how will the good guys save the world this week. Whatever, watching evildoers get outsmarted time and time again hardly counts as entertainment. There is certainly no chance that one of these characters is going to get whacked.
They tease it in the first episode of this season but only the thickest of viewers would fall for that old trick. The chances that any of the five leads don't make it through season finale must be hovering around 1 million to 1. Or put another way, the same chances that this show has of showing up at the Emmys this year. To their credit they do try to be of the moment and build this episode around a bank bailout scheme that also involves the Irish mob. Following the plot proved to difficult however, because most of the dialogue just sounded like white noise. The mob, an organization with a long-standing history of scariness, comes off as more pathetic than scary. All in all this show has bad acting, bad writing and absolutely no consequences . . .it's a show only your Granny could love.
Starring: Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf
Creators: John Rogers, Chris Downey
Airing: Wednesdays 9pm