Leverage (TV series)


Leverage (TV series)
Leverage
Leverage title screen
Genre Drama
Created by
Starring
Composer(s) Joseph LoDuca
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 54 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Editor(s)
Location(s)
Cinematography Davis Conell
Running time One hour (with commercials)
Production company(s)
Broadcast
Original channel TNT
Picture format
Original run December 7, 2008 (2008-12-07) – present
External links
Website
Production website

Leverage is an American television drama series on TNT that premiered in December 2008.[1] The series is produced by director/executive producer Dean Devlin's production company Electric Television. Leverage follows a five-person team: a thief, a grifter, a hacker and a retrieval specialist, headed up by former insurance investigator Nathan Ford, who use their skills to right corporate and governmental injustices inflicted on ordinary citizens.

The first season of Leverage consists of 13 episodes, which writers John Rogers and Chris Downey and producer Dean Devlin intended to be a complete story should the series not be renewed. The second season, for which production moved from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon,[2] ran in two parts: a nine-episode summer season which premiered on July 15, 2009, followed by a further six episodes the following winter. Leverage moved to Sunday for its third season, which began June 20, 2010.[3]

Leverage was renewed for a fourth season in July, 2010.[4] It premiered on June 26, 2011,[5] and will run 18 episodes, ten in the summer and eight in the winter. The continuation of season four will return on Sunday November 27, 2011 at 9pm EST on TNT.[6]

On August 12, 2011, Leverage was renewed for a fifth season.[7]

Contents

Series overview

Plot

Former insurance investigator Nathan Ford and his team act as modern-day Robin Hoods, staging elaborate cons for clients victimized by an individual or corporation with the wealth and influence to avoid reprisal within the legal system. The team comes together when Victor Dubenich, a wealthy aerospace executive, persuades Ford, a retired insurance investigator with intricate knowledge of scams, to lead a team of talented criminals to steal back aeronautical plans allegedly stolen from him by a competitor. After a successful heist, Dubenich double-crosses them, withdrawing their payment and attempting to blow them up in an abandoned warehouse. In retaliation, the group decides to run a con on Victor, eventually exposing his corruption and implicating him in a bribery attempt, which leads to his being arrested by the FBI. When the con is complete, rather than retire, they decide to keep working for the thrill each gets doing the work they are best at, and the added bonus of how effective they are as part of an elite team. Ford's condition for continuing is that he is allowed to select their jobs, steering them from crimes engaged in for pure profit to jobs undertaken to benefit those with a genuine need who cannot use the legal system or other "legitimate" methods to redress their grievances. Underpinning the main plot are two relationships: Nate and Sophie, whose complicated romantic relationship dates back to his days as an insurance investigator, and Parker and Hardison, whose nascent romance plays out tentatively, as they learn how to build a relationship.

The team sets up headquarters in Los Angeles, operating as Leverage Consulting & Associates, and for a time operate free of scrutiny until the arrival of Nate's former competitor, James Sterling. With Sterling determined to take them down, they pull their most daring heist by stealing a maquette from Nate's former boss, Ian Blackpoole. Nate's revenge comes at a cost, and the team must disband for six months. It re-forms in Boston, Nate's hometown, where they resume their activities, still followed by Sterling. Season two ends with the team still intact but physically separated from Ford, who surrenders to Sterling and the FBI rather than allow the team to be arrested. Season three opens with Ford in prison, while the team attempts to find a way to get him out, until fate intervenes in the form of a mysterious Italian woman, who aids in Nate's escape but blackmails the team into taking down infamous and untouchable criminal figure Damien Moreau. By season's end, the team finally brings down Moreau's empire, and he is left imprisoned in San Lorenzo, a fictional European nation he once controlled until the team ousted the puppet regime leader. Season four opens with the team discovering that someone has been bugging their headquarters for some time. They assume one of the many influential people they've brought down is now out for payback. Nate discovers however, that its really the work of a wealthy businessman called Jack Latimer. As it turns out, he's been tracking the team's movements since the Dubenich job, and has now managed to profit off their good deeds. With every major company they bring down, he invests in their competitors and makes a fortune, having built a multibillion-dollar empire in the short span of their operations. Now he's offering to give the team intel on the evildoings of other major corporations, if they alert him in advance and give him the chance to profit on each company's downfall.

Setup

Most episodes follows a set story structure: After meeting the client, the Leverage team researches the villains to find a weakness to exploit as part of their con. Each con, either as originally planned or as complications develop, typically requires the specialized skills of all the members of the group. Towards the end of each episode, the villains seem to get the upper hand, only to be outwitted by the Leverage team. Because most of the narrative has seemed to follow the Leverage team's point of view, the audience is momentarily uninformed as to exactly how the Leverage team has succeeded in their con. A flashback then reveals how a seeming complication was either anticipated by the Leverage team, or utilized in a clever improvisation. These flashbacks, which feature in every episode, sometimes reveal only in retrospect that an earlier scene was actually a clue to the Leverage team's plan. More often, however, the flashbacks reveal new information the viewer has not been privy to. This formula is followed by every episode in seasons one, two, and three. Each season ends with a two-part season finale which involves a two-part, multi-stage con designed to bring down a major adversary, such as an international crime financier in season three, with an ending that advances the team's story into the new season.

Cast and characters

Main cast

  • Timothy Hutton as Nathan "Nate" Ford ("The Mastermind"): A former insurance fraud investigator for IYS Insurance and the team's mastermind. The son of South Boston numbers runner Jimmy Ford,[8] Nate originally intended to become a Catholic priest prior to becoming an insurance investigator. While Nate was working for IYS, his young son Sam became fatally ill and IYS refused to pay for an experimental procedure, resulting in his death. The aftermath led to Nate's divorce from his wife Maggie, his subsequent dismissal from the company and his descent into alcoholism. After meeting the team for the first time and running a con against their first mark, instead of disbanding as intended, Nate is asked to continue working with them and is given the privilege of leading the team and selecting what clients the team will help. A skilled planner, Nate draws on his experience as an insurance investigator to anticipate the moves of his team's marks. Nate is at first very affable, but is unwilling to discuss his own problems with friends or others. His tendency to change objectives in the middle of a job, his alcoholism, and his often-tenuous relationship with his team has on occasion put the client and the team at risk.
  • Gina Bellman as Sophie Devereaux ("The Grifter"): British actress and accomplished grifter with a taste for art theft. Multi-lingual and particularly adept at the use of accents, Sophie is seen to portray many characters in various cons, usually making direct contact with a mark to draw them into the con. Sophie has a collection of aliases, which includes "Sophie Devereaux". As of the beginning of season 4, she has revealed her real name to all of the team, but the audience is still in the dark. Comically, her attempts to make a career as an actress lead to nothing but failure, as she proves woefully untalented and over-the-top onstage. It is only during a con when she can disappear effortlessly into a character, where ironically she can actually act well if she is pretending to be an actress. She has a long history with Nate, dating back at least ten years to when he pursued her with IYS as an art thief. At some point, they recognized an attraction to one another, leaving Sophie alternately frustrated, angry and disappointed. They have on occasion tried to further the relationship, but for various reasons one or the other has resisted.
  • Aldis Hodge as Alec Hardison ("The Hacker"): The team's computer specialist and hacker. He is a self-proclaimed geek and science fiction fan, with an easy going manner and dry, unusual wit. Hardison was raised by a foster parent, an older woman he refers to as "Nana". Hardison can hack into most forms of electronics and is rarely caught. Hardison designed and assembled the computer and television systems in the team's headquarters, and is responsible for the two-way earpieces used by the team on each episode. He is also very attached to his electronics (and in particular his van) and shown to become very depressed when the con takes a turn for the worse and requires they destroy his electronics to make their escape. Hardison and Parker have a developing romantic relationship but it is fraught with personal complications.
  • Christian Kane as Eliot Spencer ("The Hitter"): The team's highly skilled martial artist, weapons expert and self-described "retrieval expert". A former soldier in the United States Army, his role in cons is often to play small roles while protecting the team, often leading him into hand-to-hand combat that draws on his martial arts skills. Eliot once worked for Damien Moreau, and has a long history as a hired gun and bodyguard, then a retrieval specialist. Eliot has proficiency with firearms, but dislikes guns. While merely presumed as the muscleman, he demonstrates a subtle intelligence in conversation, often taking advantage of the underestimations of others and later in the series performs as a grifter along with Sophie. In contrast to the other characters Eliot prefers to keep his romantic life private, as well as much of his background.
  • Beth Riesgraf as Parker ("The Thief"): An expert thief, cat-burglar, pickpocket and safe-cracker. The product of an abusive childhood spent in several foster homes, Parker is socially awkward and relates poorly to most people. Sophie has attempted to improve gaps in her social skills on numerous occasions with limited success. Parker also has affection for Hardison, but finds it hard to convey what she feels when confronted by others. While emotionally impulsive, she can demonstrate great physical self-control in her work using acrobatics, strength and concentration to her advantage. Her obsessive focus on theft is to the point that her safehouse is filled with gear and rappelling equipment to help her in various jobs, and during one con, she was put through a rehab to address it. Parker was trained at a young age by expert thief Archie Leach (a nod to actor Archibald Alexander Leach, star of To Catch a Thief) who found her proficient with the physical demands of burglary as well as safe-cracking and lock-picking, skills she uses in many of the cons.

Recurring cast

  • Mark A. Sheppard as James Sterling: Originally Nate's colleague and rival at IYS, now an Interpol agent. Sterling learns of Nate's new life and begins to follow him, first thinking that Nate wants his job at IYS and later to bring the team to justice. Nate soon realizes Sterling is on his trail, but foils his efforts to dismantle the team's cons. In time, a theft leads Sterling to work with the team on a con, the outcome of which leads to his being offered a position with Interpol. This allows Sterling to pursue the team even more actively, eventually leading him to seemingly capture Nate. (Season 1, episodes 3, 10, 12 & 13. Season 2, episodes 12, 14 & 15. Season 4, episode 10.)
  • Jeri Ryan as Tara Cole: A self-assured grifter sent by Sophie to temporarily replace her while she is in Europe taking some personal time. Easily able to adapt to the team's method, she is nonetheless slow to be accepted by the team. Tara is a con for profit who seeks a cut of most of their jobs, but over time, learns to understand their not-for-profit motives. (Season 2, episodes 9 to 15.)
  • Kari Matchett as Maggie Collins: Nate's ex-wife, an art expert who re-enters his life while working with IYS Chair Ian Blackpoole. Although she is no longer in love with him, Maggie still cares for Nate. However, she cannot live with his drinking, which led her to divorce him. She is unaware of IYS's role in her son's death, but learns the whole story as she's drawn into one of Nate's cons, allowing them to come to terms with his death and begin to rebuild their relationship. She demonstrates a flair for Nate's new work, and ends up helping the team complete a con; later the team comes to her rescue when she is falsely accused of theft.
  • Rick Overton and Gerald Downey as FBI Special Agents Taggert and McSweeten: Taggert and McSweeten have (unwittingly) worked with Leverage Consulting & Associates on at least four occasions, believing Hardison and Parker to be fellow FBI agents. Credited with major arrests following four of the team's cons, they have risen through the ranks of the bureau rapidly. McSweeten also has a crush on Parker, which makes Hardison (and Taggert) jealous.
  • Robert Blanche as Detective Captain Patrick Bonanno: A Massachusetts State Police detective the team tips off when they want a mark to be arrested. An honest cop, Bonanno is seemingly aware of the team's work, and has their respect, but has never attempted to pursue them. Bonanno is a lieutenant in season two, but is promoted to captain as season three opens.
  • Goran Visnjic as Damien Moreau: Moreau is an international crime financier and illegal goods trader who has thus far been untouchable by international law enforcement. Moreau hides behind a network of people who do his bidding, while living on an isolated island. The team must use the clues and connections they find during their cases to take down his network and bring him to justice while under the watchful eye of a woman known only as "The Italian". Moreau is eventually jailed in the small, politically unstable country of San Lorenzo.
  • Elisabetta Canalis as The Italian: An unnamed Italian woman who blackmails the team into taking down Moreau within six months. If the team fails, she promises to have Nate imprisoned and the rest of the team killed.
  • Wil Wheaton as Colin "Chaos" Mason: an unscrupulous hacker whose skills rival Hardison's. Chaos and Hardison see each other as nemeses, but Chaos has also attempted to kill Sophie and nearly succeeded.

Production

Thirteen episodes were commissioned for the first season.[9]

Leverage is shot using Red One video cameras. Extensive use of Steadicam helps the audience participate in the scene. Shooting, editing, and all post-production work is done digitally, with no actual film or videotape being used at any point in the process. Apple's Final Cut Studio Pro 7 is used for editing and post-production.[10]

Shooting is in 4096 x 2304 at 24 frame/s, though resolution is reduced in post production to 1080p. http://www.red.com/experience/television

International Broadcasts

The series premiered on December 7, 2008 on TNT in the United States. In the United Kingdom the series aired on Bravo where it premiered on January 20, 2010.[11] The series started broadcasting January 7, 2009 on W Channel in Australia.[citation needed]

Country/Region Channel Premiere date Timeslot
 Australia W Channel January 7, 2009
 Portugal AXN 2009 Thursdays at 09:30pm
 United Kingdom FX November 3, 2011

Syndication

ION TV announced that Leverage will become part of their 2012 broadcast in syndication and will debut in Summer 2012.[12]

Ratings

In Live + 7 data, Leverage averaged 4.0 million viewers per episode in the first season, 4.5 million viewers per episode in the second season,[13] and 4.5 million viewers per episode in the third season.[14]

First season

The series ranks as ad-supported cable's #1 entertainment program in the Tuesday 10 p.m. (ET/PT) time slot among viewers, households and adults 25-54. The December 7, 2008 premiere was watched by 5.6 million viewers and scored TNT's best original series telecast ever in delivery of adults 18–49 during the regular broadcast season. Through its first nine episodes, Leverage averaged 3.2 million viewers and 1.4 million adults 18–49 in Live + Same Day viewing. The first six episodes scored strong growth when comparing Live to Live + 7 numbers, with total viewership rising 33% to 4.1 million and adults 18–49 rising 42% to 1.9 million.

Second season

Data from TNT indicates that a large percentage of viewers recorded the second season finale of Leverage for later viewing. The Live + 7 viewership of 4.2 million viewers was 70 percent greater than the Live data for the same episode. In addition, for the season, Live +7 viewership was 58 percent greater than Live viewership.[13]

Third season

The premiere of Leverage on June 20, 2010 averaged approximately 3.0 million viewers the two episodes, and maintained a 1.0 rating for Adults 18–49.[15]

DVD releases

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) released the first three seasons of Leverage on DVD in the United States (Region 1). In Canada, Alliance Home Entertainment released the first three seasons on DVD. In Region 2, Icon Home Entertainment released the first two seasons on DVD in the UK. In Region 4, Visual Entertainment released the first two seasons on DVD in Australia.

DVD Name Ep# Release Dates
Region 1 (US) Region 1 (CAN) Region 2 Region 4
The 1st Season 13 July 14, 2009 February 15, 2011 September 6, 2010 August 10, 2009
The 2nd Season 15 May 25, 2010 March 8, 2011 January 31, 2011 March 7, 2011
The 3rd Season 16 June 7, 2011 August 9, 2011 TBA TBA

References

  1. ^ Dempsey, John (March 13, 2007). "TNT, Devlin team for 'Leverage'". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117961093.html?categoryid=14&cs=1. Retrieved July 1, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Cable TV show 'Leverage' to film its second season in Portland". OregonLive.com. 2010-01-13. http://www.oregonlive.com/movies/index.ssf/2009/02/cable_tv_show_leverage_to_film.html. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  3. ^ "Breaking News - Exclusive: TNT Books "Memphis Beat" for June 22; "Leverage" Heads to Sundays". TheFutonCritic.com. 2010-04-03. http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news/2010/04/03/exclusive-tnt-books-memphis-beat-for-june-22-leverage-heads-to-sundays/8602/. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  4. ^ TNT Orders New Seasons of Three Hit Series: The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles and Leverage
  5. ^ Homepage
  6. ^ http://www.tnt.tv/series/leverage/
  7. ^ TNT Adds More Leverage as Hit Caper Series Enjoys Best Season Yet
  8. ^ "The Bottle Job". Leverage. TNT. January 13, 2010 (2010-01-13). No. 11, season 2.
  9. ^ "TNT Orders 13 Episodes of Leverage". ComingSoon.net. February 13, 2008. http://www.comingsoon.net/news/tvnews.php?id=41935. Retrieved July 1, 2008. 
  10. ^ "Leverage: All Digital". 2009-10-16. http://www.electricentertainment.com/highlight-reel/leverage-digital-workflow/.  Flash video mini-documentary on the Leverage all-digital production work flow.
  11. ^ "Leverage". Bravo.co.uk. http://www.bravo.co.uk/shows/leverage/. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  12. ^ "Leverage". iontv. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/leverage-ion-grabs-net-rights-timothy-hutton-231922. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  13. ^ a b TNT (9 March 2010). "Ratings Notes for TNT, TBS, Adult Swim, truTV and Cartoon Network". Press release. TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/03/09/ratings-notes-for-tnt-tbs-adult-swim-trutv-and-cartoon-network/44408. 
  14. ^ TNT (5 January 2011). "Ratings Notes for TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network;". Press release. TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/01/05/ratings-notes-for-tbs-tnt-cartoon-network-including-the-closer-conan-men-of-a-certain-age-more/77466. 
  15. ^ "Sunday Cable Ratings: Leverage, True Blood, Army Wives...". 22-June-2010. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2010/06/22/sunday-cable-ratings-leverage-true-blood-army-wives-drop-dead-diva-much-more/54986. 

External links


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