Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy dance time: "Leverage" has been renewed!

I was on Twitter a few minutes ago and came across an unexpected announcement: TNT has renewed "Leverage" for a third season! I was happily surprised that they renewed it already, because the second season is still being aired. If you've never watched Leverage before, do yourself a favor and start watching. Now. (It airs Wednesday evenings on TNT; cable-impaired viewers can catch some recent episodes on TNT's website or download 'em all from iTunes or Amazon).

So many networks have a reputation for developing a show, attracting viewers, and then canning the whole thing after one season (see: Pushing Daisies, Moonlight, Firefly, Blood Ties, Jericho, Back To You, etc). It's enough to make anyone wary of watching a new show. But when TNT started running ads for a new show called "Leverage" last November, I was hooked from the first promo ("Hey, look! It's Lindsey from "Angel"!). I tuned to the first episode, hoping for some decent entertainment.

I was blown away. This show is AMAZING. The premise: four criminals and an ex-insurance agent team up to steal from the undeserving, greedy SOBs who screw people over. They then give said money to the people who've been wronged. Or, as the leader Nate (Timothy Hutton) puts it: "The rich and powerful take what they want. We steal it back for you." As odd as it seems, this show always leaves me with a smile on my face. It's total schadenfreude. But they have it coming to them. Honestly.

The weekly stories are always fascinating. I love trying to figure out how they're going to rip off the bad guys. They always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else. The writers are fantastic, and the cast is simply phenomenal. In addition to Hutton's ex-insurance agent Nate Ford, we have Christian Kane (the aforementioned "Angel" alum) as Eliot, who kicks ass and takes names; Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison, hacker extraordinaire; Gina Bellman as grifter/con artist Sophie Devereaux; and Beth Riesgraf as Parker, the world's greatest thief. The characters are all rich and complex, and the actors are all up to the task of bringing them to life on screen. They have great chemistry. The dynamic is as real as the characters themselves are. Some of my favorite lines in the show come from the little "throw-away" side conversations the team has with each other when they're not on the job. These people all have back stories, and it's fascinating to see them grow closer together over the course of the first season.

Season two is proving to be just as good, if not even better. This time they're taking down bigger, badder guys, protecting more people, taking more risks, and getting closer and closer to being discovered (actually, I take that back. They've been discovered, and managed to turn that into an even bigger win). They seem to be unstoppable (though this means I'm naturally waiting for the other shoe to drop). I can only imagine what they'll be getting up to in the third season.

One final note: Whoever came up with the idea of putting TV shows on iTunes and having new episodes up the day after they air is a genius. I've bought the Season Pass for both S1 and S2 of Leverage (making it one of only 2 shows where I own every episode; the other is Angel) because the only time I've ever had cable TV is when I lived in the dorms on my college campus. Now, I can get every episode of my favorite show without having to shell out $40 a month for cable.