“Corporations… They have all the money. They have all the power and they use it to make people like you go away. Right now you’re suffering under an enormous weight. We provide the Leverage.”
I remember seeing like a million ads for this show toward the end of the last football season. If memory serves it was heavily promoted during the Super Bowl. In any case, I had made a mental note to catch it, but it was still several weeks away and I ended up forgetting about it by then. Fortunately, the release of the first season on DVD has given me a second chance for a first look at this intriguing series.
The series centers on Nathan Ford (Hutton), an ex-insurance investigator. His life was turned around when the very insurance company he recovered millions for turned down his child for treatment to keep her alive. He quits his lucrative job and forms a team to help people who are backed against the wall by large corporations. Cases include: a soldier looking to get medical care, a family ripped off by a mob boss, a company that has allowed dangerous chemicals to harm children, and a real estate mogul trying to take a church away from its congregation.
The stories are kind of a cross between the Ocean films and Mission Impossible. They get their mission and use an elaborate series of cons and covert operations to bring down their target. It also brings back the old days of The Rockford Files, when “Jimmy Meeker” would drag out his ten gallon hat and 20 gallon charm and take the bad guys for all they’ve got. At times the team utilizes high tech equipment while at others it’s as simple as telling a few well placed lies. In every case, the team works more for the satisfaction of helping out the little guy. It’s Robin Hood and Merry Men.
Other than Nathan Ford, the band is made up of some pretty solid and colorful characters:
Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane): He’s the retrieval specialist and a bit of a wise guy. He’s played by former Angel star Christian Kane and is somewhat of a Brad Pitt look-alike to further connect the show to the Ocean films.
Parker (Beth Riesgraf): Security Circumventer. She’s the one who gets all that exploitable information on the big bad company.
Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman): She’s a not so gifted aspiring actress. She might be horrible on film, but when she gets into a character for a con she’s dead on.
Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge): He specializes in internet fraud and computer hacks.
Each episode of Leverage is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This is a nice transfer that seems to work almost all the way around. Colors are near perfect reference, particularly flesh tones. Black levels are nicely rendered, adding a depth of detail to the darker scenes. Daylight is a bit uneven, at times leaning toward too bright and washing out the contrast and color. This doesn’t happen all the time, but quite a few exterior shots display this unfortunate blemish on an otherwise excellent picture.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is everything it is intended to be. There isn’t much in the way of ambient sounds outside of some musical cues. This is a very dialog strong series, so you should expect most of the sound to be in front. Dialog is clear and placed correctly. What else do you really need here?
The extras are all found on the fourth and final disc with the exception of deleted scenes and select commentaries.
Leverage – Behind The Scenes (12:40): This feature begins with a welcome from producer Dean Devlin. He pretty much guides this look at the first season of the show. Apparently there’s a real life reformed thief on the consultant staff. Tons of exposition here that tends to get a little tedious.
Anatomy Of A Stunt Fight (3:23): Rehearsal and choreography of a fight sequence here.
The Cameras Of Leverage (3:14): Tech geeks will like this look at the show’s camera equipment.
Leverage Gets Renewed (2:52): Cast and crew prepare for a media event when they get the news the show has gotten renewed for a second season.
Beth Riesgraf’s Crazy Actress Spoof (5:02): The actress goes on a fake rant.
At the end of each episode you get to see the big how did they do it reveals in flashback. I would rather see it while it was going on. At least it would be nice to be given enough information to figure it out. Unfortunately, sometimes the reveal is totally out of nowhere. Usually the team ends up missing out on the original plans and relies heavily on plan B. “Technically that would be plan G.”