This past few years of TV seasons have brought about some incredibly well done and original TV shows to not only grace the network stations but also cable broadcasters as well. Whether it’s the wealth of funny shows from USA or drama from FX, there are few stations not in the game of original material (even AMC jumped in with Mad Men). TNT is no stranger to original material either, although rarely has it ever jumped to the caliber of other networks that garner Emmy nominations and the like. Fortunately unless you require such things of your shows, shows don’t need Emmy nominations to be enjoyable and TNT’s Leverage, now on hiatus whilst fans wait for its third season, is a prime example of a pretty light and airy show that manages to be relentlessly entertaining.
The master thieves of TNT’s hit drama Leverage are back for another high-voltage season of expert cons and action-packed heists. Following the destruction of their operational headquarters, Nate Ford (Academy Award® winner Timothy Hutton) and his highly skilled team of con artists reunite to take down the corrupt bigwigs. In Season Two, the Leverage team sets out to recover millions of dollars lost in a Ponzi scheme, stage a deadly virus outbreak, and go head-to-head against a rival crew of slick thieves. To fight the criminal underworld, the Leverage team knows the high-tech tricks of the trade to get the job done. Sometimes it’s good to be bad. This 4-disc DVD set of LEVERAGE: The 2nd Season includes 15 riveting episodes and is packed with cool special features.
Thankfully this second season cleans up a bit of the first season mishaps—and by that I mean we expand on our characters a bit more. Although at this point I’m not sure if I feel more familiar and knowledgeable of the team because we’re nearly thirty-episodes deep into the series or they actually received some kind of character progression…a bit of both, I suppose, since there was a healthy dosage of everyone’s character getting exposed thoroughly during this fifteen episode run that comprised the second season. Despite the added exposure for everyone, however, the show really didn’t change itself up much despite the new location and new co-star (I’ll get to that in a bit); it’s still an incredibly predictable and thoroughly cheap show…that is just so lazy in execution that it’s the perfect thing to watch after your mind is turned to mush by whatever Lost or 24 is dishing out to your brain on any given week. Leverage is very basic and makes no real effort to hide how cheesy or tongue-in-cheek it is…it’s a very self aware show and if you can’t buy into it then you’re likely just not meant to be part of its audience.
Of course even shows whose sole purpose it is to entertain with simple tales is still prone to flaws and annoyances and there were a few this season. The biggest was the continued relationship between leads Nathan (Hutton) and Sophie (Gina Bellman); the whole alcoholism issue that Nathan deals with that pushes Sophie away is just really contrived feeling and as a result their whole relationship seems like a real stretch and farce at times. Plus with the introduction of Jeri Ryan as a temporary cast member to “replace” Sophie while she was gallivanting around the world, Sophie was never really missed and every time she made an appearance (which was every episode this season I believe, even if it was only for a few seconds) it felt tacked on and unnecessary. I’m not saying I don’t like the character or actress, but the way they handled that whole portion of the season was just very heavy-handed for such a light show.
There’s still plenty to like about the show with it’s simple storylines and quirky acting, but really just don’t go into it expecting much depth if you’re looking for another show to watch. If you want to get into something that’s entertaining and doesn’t tax your brain at all, then check the show out. I really do Recommend it, but I know that its hokey-ness is not for everyone as I myself had trouble getting into it at first when it premiered. But it grows on you…perhaps a little too quickly.
Paramount packages up the fifteen episodes that comprise the second season in a four disc package stuffed inside a viva-multi-pak case that’s the size of a standard amaray case. A slipcover is included as well, but it merely mimics the art beneath it so it’s something that can be easily chucked. Video is what you’d expect from a modern show and will look better than what the show was originally broadcast in (at least for me—I don’t get TNT in HD, so it may actually look worse to you, depending on if you saw the first season on air or not). Audio is a DD5.1 mix and it sounds good for what it is; some of the LFE and surround output is more impressive than you would think a TNT show would have, but mainly just for the episodes with explosives or gun fights (and notably the finale which had a lot of directional quirks with the boat sounds and helicopters at the end).
Extras…well, I gotta say, the extras on this set really impressed me once again. We get commentary on every episode of the set from a varied crew list and there is a decent list of goodies besides that. Included:
Audio Commentaries on Each Episode
The Creators of Leverage Q&A
John Rogers Set Tour
Behind the Boom Featurette
“The Hand Job” Spoof Video
Andy Lange Music Featurette
Season 2 Wrap Party Gag Reel
As you can see it’s a pretty healthy dosage of extras, although they don’t have much of a run time so you’ll spend most of your time on the commentaries instead. The gag reel is a bit weak for such a fun looking show, but still not bad and better than the last season which randomly dropped flubbed lines into the deleted scenes for some reason. Overall a Recommended set for fans and newcomers alike.
Leverage – The 2nd Season arrives on DVD on May 25th.