Thursday, January 01, 2009

Leverage, "The Bank Shot Job": I mis-counted the men!

Quick thoughts on Tuesday night's "Leverage" coming up just as soon as I do things by the book...

Not that I ever had super-high expectations for this show -- as I said in my review a few weeks back, it seems like an entertaining trifle at best right now -- but to have to resort to the bank robbery hostage crisis cliche in the fifth episode? That's not a good sign for what kind of stories they have lined up soon.

(Then again, I look at shows like "Chuck" and "Burn Notice" and how they spun their wheels for most of their first seasons before figuring things out in year two and try to hope that this is just growing pains.)

Still, the idea of doing a "Leverage" version of the old staple -- what happens when thieves are stuck in the bank with the robbers? -- wasn't a bad one, and it allowed Hardison, my favorite character by a long stretch, an opportunity to shine. But the denouement didn't make any sense -- Wouldn't the local cops notice that one of the FBI agents was now dressed like a hostage? And how was Parker simultaneously posing as a hostage and driving Hardison away as an FBI agent? And even if the other hostages all agree to screw the evil judge, won't their stories contradict enough to prevent a conviction? -- and I'm really starting to think that including Elliot in the mix was a poor idea.

All due respect to Christian Kane, but there's a reason caper shows and movies don't generally include an ass-kicker on the team, and it's because the fun of the genre is watching the team outwit their opponents. If you introduce a character whose primary purpose is to beat people up -- and who, it's been established, will come out on top of any kind of fight, no matter how long the odds -- that takes a lot of the fun out of the mix. Yes, they still primarily saved the day and nailed the judge through brainpower, but there's at least one problem per episode that Elliot has to take care of through brute force (in much the same way that every "Superfriends" mission always had an underwater component so Aquaman could seem useful), and it always feels lame and tacked-on.

What did everybody else think?


Unknown said...

I did think that the ending was a little too pat with all the witnesses and problems with parker's whereabouts. But disagree with the statement that the show is in trouble because it has already turned to the bank heist. I still find the show to be entertaining, even if the set ups are a little shallow. I care more about giving the team (especially Hardison) a chance to be funny and do cool things. I especially loved his lengthy list of demands that he just spouted off the top of his head.
"Nobody's writing this down? Seriously?"

Anonymous said...

It was basically satisfying (and the non-Tim Hutton folks are growing on me quite a bit), but I knew how it was going to end about five minutes in. I like Kane and his character, but I's not exactly suspenseful to know he's going to take care of things in about six seconds and the "here's what we did" wrap up makes it unnecessary to do too much thinking during the last fifteen minutes or so because they're just going to explain it to you anyway. Still, I'm enjoying it and hope it lasts in the same way I really enjoy "In Plain Sight".

Are they showing them out of order, btw? I noticed that either this week's or last week's was listed as ep #9 on the dish network grid and was wondering if that was accurate or just an error in their info. It seems like the week before was off as well. If they're showing them in a different order than shot then that might answer the complaints about a hostage situation so early and back to back "personal story" episodes.

Omagus said...

I was highly intrigued by "Leverage" when I started seeing the previews for it. I really wanted to like the show but it just isn't fulfilling. I stopped watching after the second episode.

To tell you the truth, I don't enjoy any TNT series other than "The Closer," and I've given them all a chance.

Anonymous said...

On his Blog Rogers says this was the the first one shot, and supposed to be #9 in the series but the network execs really liked this one and pushed it up.

I don't think they did the bank episode because they were low on ideas I think they are deliberately looking at the cliches and trying something new with them.

I think having the episodes re ordered makes it look worse than you think it does. Putting this ep so close to the horse job makes it look loke the cliches are all they have.

Do I see the Judge getting nailed for Bank robbery in court? no. That being said the Judge is corrupt enough that any deep investigation into his dealings will find something they can charge him with.

As for Parker? I guess she very carefully slipped out because she's not in the scenes where they are being interviewed.

Jeff L said...

I really like the interplay between the team, and the various characters themselves, even Elliot.

But, yeah, they need better plots, and soon. Way too many holes & cliches.

I'll stick with it, but more 'cuz I'm hoping it'll get better.

Anonymous said...

I never even noticed the Parker-problem. The horse episode put me to sleep, but I liked this one. There were a few moments that didn't ring true emotionally (the boys dad seemed singularly unpissed at him). But hey, its the A-team redux.

Anonymous said...

it's definitely a trifle, I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy watching The Closer, Monk, and/or In Plain Sight. Not so much "appointment TV" as "program into the DVR TV". Without Tim Hutton's charm, it probably wouldn't be watchable tho some of the other characters have their charm and endearing qualities. I think I had a pretty violent eyeroll at Parker's "reveal" appearance in the sweaty teeshirt, but I don't really expect this show to be a truly gritty and serious drama.

You asked in a previous thread what everyone's watching during these "dead" weeks, here's our list: a couple of rerun FNL eps that didn't get recorded by our wonky DVR during the first-run, Leverage, Law & Order, and for some reason reality TV is always appealing for my family during the holidays... DVR'd Top Chef & Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares have been fun couch-marathon viewing. Much to my chagrin, there seems to ALWAYS be a college football game on that my husband and/or teenage son want to watch. And we've watched a few movies, with several more still in the DVR waiting for their turn at bat.

Anonymous said...

This episode (and the church one) had their moments, but the consistency just isn't there yet.

At this rate, I don't see how Leverage survives the return of regular the TV schedule. And I'm bummed because I liked it at first.

Anonymous said...

The show still feels like a trifle, but that is becoming less and less like a compliment.

Hardison is a delight, but Elliot is bordering on being a cartoon character, and is it just me, or has Parker lost all of the crazy that made her vaguely interesting in the first place.

I'm not sure how many episodes they are doing, but if this has to go against real tv, I can easily see dropping it from my radar.

Alan, any thoughts on that "Trust Me" with Tom Cavanaugh and Eric McCormack? The show itself looks pretty light, but they keep advertising it like it is a show about underground cage fighters or something.

Anonymous said...

I originally was interested in this for Christan Kane, who I have liked since Angel, and Aldis Hodge (Voodoo!). Well, Hodge is great as Hardison, but Kane is pretty much one great big disappointment. I don't know if it's the character or Kane himself, but I find him a complete bore and horribly flat, and that makes me sad.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, any thoughts on that "Trust Me" with Tom Cavanaugh and Eric McCormack? The show itself looks pretty light, but they keep advertising it like it is a show about underground cage fighters or something.

Light? Yes. Underground cage fighting-esque? Absolutely not.

Anonymous said...

I just meant the ads make it look like it is set in some cut throat world where every decision is going to make or break you, and any mistakes will be the greatest tragedy in the history of history. Truth is, I think the show looks much more suited to USA than TNT. They know drama, but that show ain't it.

Anonymous said...

You know this has enough holes and "Oh cmons" to make Sarah Connor look airtight. But I really enjoy it! I just go for the ride and the amusing wit and keep my expectations low and I end up having a great time. I think the characters really do act REAL- they aren't trying to be too cool or smarmy or anything. So bring on the cliches! I find it better than "The four cylons will show the way to earth" and all they end up doing is circling around a viper and say "Hey something's different about this now"


Pirate Alice said...

I really like the show, I see it as a modern day "A-Team". Sure it's got holes and cliches but I'm willing to forgive them because it's just fun to watch.

MysterLynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MysterLynch said...

While I enjoy the characters (Parker especially) quite a bit, the writing is mediocre at best.

We certainly have to suspend our disbelief when watching a show like this, but they make it very hard.

Too many situations seem to have been created to show how clever they can be without even trying to make them seem plausable.

That said, I think Leverage is entertaining enough that I will keep watching for a while.

Can anyone imagine how good this could be with a couple Whedon alumni on the writing staff? Some folks that can frame even the most outragious things in such a way that they appear believable.