by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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TNT’s new action series starring Timothy Hutton as the leader of a band of experts in their respective fields is damn good television, in the midst of hospital and reality television shows.
Leverage stars Hutton as Nate Ford, a former corporate insurance company employee who worked hard to recover millions of dollars in stolen goods for his employer. At some point, his son becomes ill, and that same employer denies health insurance coverage for the young boy, which results in his untimely death. Afterward, Ford leaves the company and fends for his own, until he’s hired by an aeronautics executive to recover airplane designs that he claims were stolen by a rival.
While Ford is considered the good guy, he teams up with a band of four who are greatly skilled in their own specialties, but who would also rather work by themselves and not together. Ford serves as the glue that holds them together, as they rift and slam against each other.
Parker, played by Beth Riesgraf, is an expert thief; scaling down elevator shafts to get her intended target. Alec Hardison plays Hodge, who’s an ace in Internet and computer fraud; while Eliot Spencer who plays Kane is a high-octane “retrieval specialist” who is also a martial arts expert. And Sophie (Gina Bellman), who works part time as an actress, plays a grifter who uses her thespian background to persuade her victims to see things through her rose-colored glasses. Each actor’s background is explained through compelling flashbacks.
The premiere, commercial-free episode that airs Sunday, December 7, at 10 p.m. ET on TNT is called The Nigerian Job and involves ruse after ruse and scam after even grander scam. But Ford and the gang become victims themselves while performing their first caper.
It’s clear the team members can’t stand each other, with each trying to “out-do” the other with his/her bags of tricks. But after they are conned out of payment for their first masterpiece, they agree to stay together long enough to mete out a grand “payback” of their own on their unscrupulous client. They all “get ready to get even.”
There’s so much computer hacking, undercover surveillance, fake telecommunications, sleight of hand and “now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t” antics that you’d think you were watching the Italian Job or Ocean’s 11.
Today’s audience will empathize with Ford’s situation, after he loses his son, as well as cheer on the entire team as the members use cutting-edge technology to infiltrate and take over situations, as they work their way through to the end of the job.
The twists and turns in the plot are intriguing and ones that keep your attention well longer than the hour that the show runs. It had me anxiously awaiting the next new episode that airs Tuesday, December 9, at 10 p.m. ET, as the series kicks off in full gear.
Leverage is executive-produced by Dean Devlin who brought us Independence Day; John Rogers, of Cosby fame; Chris Downey (The King of Queens); and comes to TNT through Electric Entertainment. And as masterful as Leverage is, The Nigerian Job was filmed primarily in Chicago.
Tune into TNT Sunday, December 7, at 10 p.m. ET and Tuesday, December 9, same time for “con games and double crosses” all in the name of justice, as Leverage takes off.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is a veteran public relations and journalism professional and former journalism professor. She’s publicist for her daughter, Hip-Hop artist Psalm One. A native Chicago South Sider, Elaine was a recent University of Maryland Bio Ethics, Health Disparities & Clinical Trials Fellow and winner of a Black Press Messenger Award.
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