Leveraging the best out of the whodunit

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TO leverage

Procedural dramas à la CSI, Law & Order, Blue Bloods and NCIS have always had mass appeal for TV buffs who revel in the whodunit premise.

I am such a fan. But I am still reeling from the news that CBS has canned CSI: Miami. But I suppose it couldn’t flog a waning show for much longer.

What’s equally fascinating are shows that can be slotted into the genre but follow a more unconventional fictional route. Think along the lines of Burn Notice or Life.

An offering that has piqued interest for this reason is Sony Entertainment Television’s Leverage, with its modern-day Robin Hood feel. It has been renewed for a fifth season.

In the eyes of the law, Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), a grafter; Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), an expert hacker; Eliot Spencer, a former US soldier currently employed as the team’s resident hitter; and Parker (Beth Riesgraf), the thief, who work for Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton), a former insurance investigator and is the mastermind behind all their cons, are the baddies. But, in ensuring that wrongdoers pay for their crimes, they are anything but.

Writers John Rogers and Chris Downer have done a sterling job in ingeniously plotting the script, which keeps every episode fresh and exciting. And they have imbued a sense of fallibility to the characters, which makes the story more appealing as they stumble their way through juggling work and their personal woes.

In the new season, the strongest character – Nathan – is also the team’s greatest weak-ness, losing his wrestling match with his inner demons. The team find themselves questioning the moral ambiguity of what they do. Not that Sophie will allow Nathan’s status quo to hold them prisoner for too long. Besides, that torch she carries for him will not allow her to turn a blind eye to his pain.

So what can diehards expect?

On their radar this time are: a public relationships expert (Michael Gladis) who protects his clients to the hilt – even if it means destroying the lives of all opposing them; a millionaire who bribes his way to the top of the list for a heart transplant; a woman who exploits people with a funeral scam; a big corporation trying to railroad potato farmers, and a group trying to kill a World War II veteran, played by Danny Glover.

During an interview with Starpulse.com, Hutton raved: “There are some scenes in the season finale that I liked very much. I enjoyed doing some scenes with Tom Skerritt (who plays Nate’s father, Jimmy Ford).

“There’s also an actor named Drew Powell – he was in a show that we did in season one (The Twelve-Step Job) and he comes back. At the end of the day the scenes that I like the most are when the five Leverage folks are together trying to figure out what to do when there is a crisis. When Plan A doesn’t work, and we have to shift into Plan B, Plan C, Plan D. All these different things start to come up and you see the characters at their best and at their worst, all at the same time. Those, I think for all of us, are really very enjoyable to do.”

In the meantime, the team also face off with a familiar foe – insurance investigator turned Interpol agent Jim Sterling (Mark Sheppard).

With the stakes higher – especially with the team learning that a mysterious individual has them under surveillance – viewers best brace themselves for another fast-paced season.

• Leverage airs on Sony Entertainment Television (DStv Channel 113) tonight at 9.25pm.


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