My Current Guilty Pleasure: ‘Leverage’

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So, apparently I’m on a catching-up streak now. Back in November I mentioned that I was catching up on Chuck on Netflix. I wrapped that up last month, and it was interesting to see where the story went: Chuck loses the Intersect for a while and has to figure out how to be a real spy without a supercomputer in his head. The last season gets pretty dark, actually, with a lot of skeletons coming out of closets you didn’t even know were there, and the ending was bittersweet.

Since then, I’ve moved on to Leverage. The show first aired in 2008, and we here at GeekDad were big fans of it. I even got to participate in a phone press conference with Aldis Hodge and Wil Wheaton near the end of Season 3.

In case you’re not familiar with the show, Leverage is a fun, fast-paced heist show. The premise is that Nathan Ford is an honest man who gets put in charge of a group of criminals to recover some stolen property. And then they just stick together, running cons on all the horrible people that the law can’t catch. It’s part Robin Hood, part The Italian Job, and you watch because you love seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance.

When I first started watching the show, I was living in Tribune, Kansas, and my wife and I were feeling a little nostalgic for Portland. So it was a lot of fun watching Leverage–set in Boston but actually filmed in Portland–because we would recognize some of the locations. Now that I’m currently living in Portland again and have re-familiarized myself a little, I’m recognizing even more places. One museum heist took place in the same museum where Wordstock was held last fall. The convention center stands in for an airport on more than one occasion.

Although most of the episodes are one-off heists of some sort, there are some overarching plotlines for each of the seasons, and the characters do grow and change a little as you go. I’m currently a few episodes away from the end of Season 4, with one more season to go after that. In the later seasons, they have fun with the storytelling. One of my favorite episodes is “The Rashomon Job” (Season 3 Episode 11), which tells the story of the same heist from 5 different perspectives. Another fun pair of episodes is the one I just finished watching, Season 4 Episodes 13 and 14, “The Girls’ Night Out Job” and “The Boys’ Night Out Job.” Two different stories take place, connected only briefly at the beginning and end, and with a couple of phone calls between Parker and Hardison. When you watch the first one, you just see glimpses of Hardison as Parker is calling him. In the next episode, you see what Hardison was actually up to when the phone rang.

The other thing that happens as the show progresses is that the morality gets a little murkier. Sure, the whole premise is about how “sometimes bad guys make the best good guys,” but there are episodes where they find out their mark is actually not such a bad guy. Or where they end up helping somebody they don’t really like. In the world of Leverage, I think you never really know who’s good–or perhaps a better way to say it is that nobody’s entirely good.

Overall, it’s just a really fun, witty show with great characters and over-the-top stories, and I think I’m enjoying it even more this time around.

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and have been provided with Netflix access for review purposes, but opinions expressed are my own.

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