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 V.17 No.49 | December 4 - 10, 2008 

Idiot Box

Mission: A-Team’s Eleven

“Leverage” on TNT

Timothy Hutton? Good to see you again. Where you been keeping yourself, man? Lymelife? Reflections? The Alphabet Killer? The Killing Room? When a Man Falls in the Forest? Never heard of ’em. “Kidnapped”? Oh yeah. I meant to watch that, but they yanked it off the air after five episodes. The Last Mimzy? You don’t wanna bring that up, do you? Off the Black? Falling Objects? Heavens Fall? The Kovak Box? Avenger? Stephanie Daley? Nope, not ringing any bells. Yeah, well, you won an Academy Award for Ordinary People. That was cool.

What’s that? You’ve got a new TV series with TNT? OK, let’s check that out.

“Leverage”? Sounds intriguing. One-word titles are hot these days. They look good in TV Guide, anyway. Hey, how about that: The press kit comes with a can of Red Bull. So it’s an action series? I gather I’m supposed to get all jacked up on energy drink and watch the pilot. Why not? Who am I to argue with TNT’s publicity department?

So, you play this Nathan Ford guy, an ex-insurance investigator who starts up some sort of freelance, antiheroic, con-man/revenge-for-hire business. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but we’ll go with it. I see you’ve got a team. There’s the tough chick (Beth Riesgraf), the hot chick (Gina Bellman), the Black dude (Aldis Hodge) and the, uh, young Billy Ray Cyrus (Christian Kane). You guys are like criminal superspies, doing the Mission: Impossible thing. Each week, you break into high-rise office buildings, defeat assorted high-tech security measures and steal stuff from rich, powerful, mostly evil people. You’re the leader. It’s like they’re The A-Team and you’re Hannibal. I get it.

That Gina Bellman gal is the only other person in the cast I recognize. She used to be in the BBC version of “Coupling.” She’s good. The rest of the cast is OK. Beth Riesgraf is kinda spunky. That Kane guy looks like he has every episode of Lorenzo Lamas’ “Renegade” on DVD. Kane is like a lost Lamas brother. Very Lamas-esque. You ever see Body Rock, Tim? It’s hilarious. Lamas plays a break-dancer. Put it in your Netflix cue.

These “Leverage” stories zip along like rejected Ocean’s Eleven plots, but I guess that’s what the creators had in mind. The Red Bull is starting to kick in and things are exploding on screen. There’s lots of flashy, distracting camerawork. (The 360 spin! The fast-forward dolly shot! The 360 spin, again!) What’s that? The series is executive produced by Dean Devlin (Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla)? Yeah, figures.

Well, that was ... fun, I suppose. No, honestly, I think it will fit in quite well with TNT’s other hour-long, OK-but-not-quite-ready-for-broadcast-TV series like “Raising the Bar,” “The Closer,” and “Saving Grace.” What’s that? No, I don’t think you’ll win an Emmy. But you’ll probably get picked up for a second season. TNT’s good like that.

OK. Well, good luck on the show, Tim. Say hello to Debra Winger for me. Divorced? In 1990? You don’t say. Sorry. My bad.

“Leverage” premieres Sunday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. on TNT.


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