I've always been mystified when a television series I completely enjoy gets canceled. I'm sure others feel that way too. I mean with all of the bad stuff that stays on the air how do good series end up being cut? Such was the case this past year with LEVERAGE, a series that I enjoyed from beginning to end. Perhaps we can find some solace in the knowledge that the series can stay on our TV sets with the DVD collections offered. Season five has just been released and I know I'm glad to see it take its rightful place on the frequently viewed DVD shelf here at home, right next to the first four seasons.
For those who for some reason never saw the show (it was after all not aired on any of the big three networks) it told the story of Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton), an ex-insurance investigator who was contacted to help an old client take on the company he used to work for. Nate had a personal stake in this because the same company twisted around their own contract which resulted in the death of his young son. This was a chance for payback. The opening show resulted in a few plot twists that resulted in Nate and his team being left quite comfortable with millions of dollars. This allowed them to carry on and help the little guy take on the big guy from episode to episode.
While Hutton's portrayal of Nate was dead on it was Nate's team that made the show complete. Each of the team members were criminals that Nate had helped put away in the course of his employment. And each one had their own special talents and quirks that made them people you'd love to hang out with.
Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) was the best con artist in the world with perhaps the exception of Nate. While she could portray a countess with ease during a sting she couldn't act at all on stage, something she long desired to do. Sophie also had a past with Nate that was hinted at and played with as the series progressed until the final culmination in season five.
Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) was a techno wiz that could out hack anyone. Hardison's capabilities always helped the team. But it was his humor that made him the most likeable character of the bunch. It also helped him to eventually win the heart of another member of the team Harper (Beth Riesgraf). Harper was the ultimate cat burglar, able to make her way through laser grid alarms and down chimney's with ease. Hers was the silly character who at times seemed the most childlike but adorable in every scene she shared.
Lastly was Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), the warrior of the group. If there was a weapon needed Eliot was your man. But more than that he was an expert in nearly every hand to hand combat technique known. Eliot was the muscle of the group but not as in muscle head. He was smart, prone to anger and at the same time the softest hearted member of the group which showed in more than one episode.
So there you have the gist of the series, a group of off the wall characters led by a man with a troubled past who set out to fight the good fight and help people in need who couldn't afford anyone to help them or couldn't fight city hall if it came to that. When it happened, the leverage team would help.
Season five was every bit as good as season one through four. I never witnessed a season that didn't live up to not only my expectations but to the job done the previous season. None of the episodes were boring, none seemed out of place in the leverage universe and all of them continued to make me care more and more about these characters. Unfortunately the studio behind them didn't quite agree and the show ended with this season. So what did it offer?
A shipping CEO whose greed led to multiple deaths, a hockey team that wanted to screw over it's players for higher ticket sales with no help for the team mates, a plagiaristic scientist, Congress, D.B. Cooper, Wall Street, a retail chain, a toy company and finally a company involved in the death of Nate's son. Along the way a familiar guest from the past made an appearance with Mark Sheppard as Jim Sterling, Nate's nemesis from his days at the insurance company who now worked with INTERPOL. There wasn't a boring episode in the mix and all had that familiar tackling of giants feel to them.
What made this show work weren't just the actors or the theme even though these were an important piece of the puzzle. Puzzle is a good description of what made it work. It was all of the pieces coming together to make a whole picture that was wonderful to watch unfold a piece at a time. The writings and directing, the camera work, the acting, the sets....each of them contributed to the whole. And this group that came together became a sort of on air family for the fans.
I find myself this fall wishing that another season were in the works. For the moment I'll have to content myself with watching the fifth season. Then perhaps I'll go back and start from the beginning once again. I know that I'll be doing that from time to time. This was one series that wasn't just worth watching when it aired, it was one to collect. And now it looks like that special place on the shelf, where the series offers me easy access, is where I'll be adding season five. You should do so as well.
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