Leverage season one DVD: crime drama about Delta force who take down corrupt corporations

Here's some good news: the first season of John Rogers's TV show Leverage is out on DVD. Leverage is a taut, smart thriller about a Delta force of ex-grifters and special ops types who join forces to take down evil corporations and other scumbags. Rogers, the show's creator and runner, is a long-time comics writer (you might know him from Blue Beetle) with a long history in TV writing and stand-up comedy, and all these influences come through in the writing and the look of the show, which uses a lot of shots that remind me of really good comics panels.

I only caught the first couple episodes of Leverage because it was on US TV and I live in the UK, so I'm looking forward to catching up with this. Really, really looking forward.

Leverage: The First Season (via Kung Fu Monkey)


  1. Rogers is a gamer too . . . a frigging Geek Age Renaissance man!

    And he’s co-created (or at least wrote the pilot and several episodes for . . . IMDB suggests both) another series I’m loving, “Royal Pains,” a comedy-drama about a disgraced NYC emergency room surgeon who finds a niche as a “concierge doctor” in the Hamptons. It has Roger’s humanistic and egalitarian touch.

    Leverage Season Two premiered tonight. It’s filmed in Portland (standing in for Boston); I recognized the street the first scene was filmed on.

  2. Thought it was a modern remake of the A Team myself. Hope they get rid of the blond actress, found her annoying.

  3. I really hate to rain on someone’s parade, but this show is crap. A neat idea wrapped in “CSI”-style cliches. There’s just really nothing to like about this show, in my opinion, and I kind of have to question the mental stability of someone who is not only “looking forward” to seeing more episodes, but is “really, really looking forward.”

    But, y’know, it’s cool and all.

  4. I dunno that it’s crap; it’s middlingly good. The writing is pretty patchy in places and I enjoyed Gina Bellman much more in Coupling, which she was brilliant in. After watching it I didn’t feel like I’d wasted forty minutes of my life, but was certainly aware that there were plenty of more entertaining things I could’ve been doing. So not great, but not awful.

  5. I’d agree, it’s not crap, but hustle, which it’s clealy imitating, is much better. I’d say it’s worth watching, but if you haven’t seen hustle, watch that first!

  6. I’m not sure I’d describe Leverage as a “taut, smart, thriller.” It’s an average ensemble crime caper (think: poor-man’s Ocean’s 11) show with a Robin Hood veneer. The acting is middle-of-the-road but inoffensive. The plots tend to feel the same. But, yeah, there are worse ways to kill an hour on a Wednesday night.

  7. I enjoy the show – I get a big kick out of the characters, and I appreciate the whole Robin-Hood aesthetic. I agree that the plots do sometimes get a bit repetitive – see also, Law & Order, Seinfeld or any number of popular shows – but I think that may be an issue with TV generally. I appreciate the capers and the ways they work around stuff – I’m not sure all of their hacks would work in real life, but I always enjoy thinking about them.

  8. I think Anon at the first post has it. I’ve seen the entire first season and it’s basically an Americanised “Hustle”. They’re targeting corporations and use lots of fancy gadgetry where Hustle goes after individuals and mostly uses real tech (if you forgive their occasional implausible genius with alarm systems) but a lot of the show strongly reminds me of Hustle.

    I think the writing is a big hammy at times – lots of interpersonal melodrama that really doesn’t need to be there – but on the whole I enjoyed it. Ignoring that, the caper plots usually seemed quite clever and decently thought through.

    Anyone who likes Leverage should try Hustle. At least in its earlier seasons, I found Hustle much more entertaining (cleverer plans, better dialogue) than Leverage. Admittedly, that could just be because I’m more used to British TV writing styles than American.

    @Strevalex: In fairness, I thought the pilot episode was great. The rest of the series doesn’t quite live up to them IMO, but it’s not crazy to see the excellent pilot and be excited to see more.

  9. Love the anti-corporate undercurrent to this show, but wouldn’t agree it’s “taut and smart.” The computer-security-related material is all nonsense.

    And the action is silly. In one scene the character-who-beats-people-up takes on four hard guys. The fight begins as someone drops a bag. The four bad guys are all on the floor before the bag—which has been in free fall—can get to the floor.

    Something to watch while doing something more interesting.

  10. I’d really have to question the mental state of someone who questions other peoples mental states based on what they find entertaining on TV. But that’s just my opinion, I find the show entertaining.

  11. I’m in the @Bugs camp too. I watched every episode in the first season and thought it paled in comparison to BBC’s Hustle. (Although admittedly Hustle went off the rails a bit in Series 4.)

    The characters (in Leverage) seemed one-dimensional, and the efforts to mimic the basic con moves like pickpocketing were weak. But I was most disappointed by the fact that a lot of the cons relied on complete suspension of disbelief rather than actual deception. For a start, the Leverage team seems to have unlimited resources in terms of money and knowledge and gadgets.

    Yet despite all my griping, here I am…still watching it.

  12. I liken this series to “It Takes a Thief” or “Mission Impossible”. A small crew, each with a specialty. Each week they pull off a “magic” misdirection (that you are sometimes shown after the fact) which takes down the bad guys. Instead of makeup, substitute a versatile grifter. You have a thief, a computer cracker, an unarmed combat expert, a ‘woman of all faces’, and a planner. Entertaining fluff.

  13. The really good news is that Burn Notice exists, and you can watch that instead!

    Leverage seems like TNT looking at USA and going ‘Oh crap, we’ve got to have an answer for that!’ Much like their ‘Trust Me’ retort to ‘Mad Men,’ Leverage is pretty darn unoriginal and a reaction to someone else’s better-made show, IMO.

    Although it could be just as good (or better) than its competition, my experience is that Leverage gets overly hokey and silly when it could be slick and clean. Dean Devlin as a director is pretty much always ready to spray a seltzer bottle in your face any time things start getting good. Pair that with cartoony side characters and a healthy dose of cliches (hot girl bypassing laser defense systems that NO SECURITY SYSTEM EVER USES, EVER, and that pretty much sums up the show.

  14. I know that it looks a lot like Hustle which I like and love to watch. Hustle is smart, witty and deceiving.

    Leverage on the other hand is smart, witty and
    American. While Hustle and Leverage rely on slight of hand and mis-direction, leverage has to play the American crowd with at least one fight from the Hitter. I do not remember as much violence in Hustle as there is in Leverage.

    I love both shows. But you can see that one is uniquely American.

  15. I must second the recommendation for Burn Notice, one of the few “can’t miss” TV series on the air these days. I don’t watch all that much TV (’cause there’s so much more interesting stuff online), but this one is a keeper.

    Not only do Mike, Sam and Fiona work flawlessly as a team that often rely on misdirection, deception and clever cons to outwit the bad guys, the geek tech they use in many episodes is simple and actually believable (i.e., when Mike uses Mitnick-style social engineering scams to pass himself off as a computer security expert to gain access to server rooms and secured datacenters).

    For a show that isn’t really about technology or geek obsessions, Burn Notice gets it right far more often than something like Fox’s inexcusable 24, which obsesses about computers, information security, technology and telecommunications, but so often gets EVERYTHING WRONG! I couldn’t stand the last season, and gave up on it after the third or fourth episode, where the entire U.S. Government’s security infrastructure was compromised because a bad guy took over command of one firewall appliance. I know from firsthand experience that government computer systems are pretty poorly secured, but even the worst of them won’t be shut down by having a single point of failure.

  16. Looks like a lot of people like other shows better, but I for one really enjoyed the couple of episodes I’ve seen so far.

    I should probably say, though, that for me the appeal mostly lies in the fact that the show is a televised Shadowrun game, minus the magic. It doesn’t surprise me at all to learn the creator is an RPGer:
    1) the crew is very clearly a balanced party of high-level characters;
    2) each episode is a new GM plot hook;
    3) the implausible technology reads to me like a game mechanic when the GM doesn’t know that much about it – if you roll well, it just does what you want.

    More realistic tech would definitely be a plus, though, I agree.

  17. Agreed on “Hustle” ||s.
    TNTs casting is usually total garbage.

    I watched a few “Leverage” episodes and except for Hutton and Bellman, the entire cast STINKS; particularly the cat burglar, the unconvincing hacker and the 5’4″ tough guy who seems to be a big fan of lip gloss.

    Eddie Izzard in drag is light-years tougher than that long-haired little Smurf.

    3rded on “Burn Notice”, esp. this season.
    The cast of “Royal Pains” on USA, is also pretty good.

    I’d watch internet reruns of “Chuck” and “Burn Notice” before I spent another minute on “Leverage”.

  18. I kinda liked the first few episodes of Leverage, but eventually tired of them. The team is just too invincible – never once do you feel like they actually have to struggle to complete a mission.

    Anyway since Burn Notice is a never-miss for me, I skipped out on this. Hustle is well-worth watching too of course, and (if you can find it via alternate means) Eyes was a tremendous show in this vein.

  19. It’s more A-Team than anything else – split Murdock out into two characters and you have the same team make-up. Improbable improvised and obtained equipment (really, they are a cabbage thrower short of a lawsuit) and no-one ever gets killed, no matter how mad things get. But, after all the cheesiness, it turns strangely dark, with the alcoholism DTs etc. Love the use of over-the-top heartstring pullers as well – not enough for a man to lose his families house due to corrupt contractors, but the damage was done in Katrina, AND he is a gulf veteran!

    But the worst part of all is the CGI. Take a look at the episode (mile high I think) which takes place on a plane. Stock footage be damned, someone must have cried, I want a CGI plane, and I want it SHINY! It really is the worst I’ve seen outside of an advert for a long time

  20. @Anon: “It doesn’t surprise me at all to learn the creator is an RPGer”

    No kidding. Check Rogers’ blog; at one point he wonders out loud which RPG system would be best to write the show character’s… character sheets in. I actually think he considered Shadowrun.

  21. I really enjoy Leverage. I wouldn’t use military descriptors like “Delta force” and “special ops”, since these kinds are as far from being ex-military as one can imagine. They’re all ex-cons, except for Hutton’s character. It’s very much in the modern Ocean’s 11 vein – sure the capers are wildly improbable, but that’s where the fun is for me.

    And (yay dual tuner Tivo!) I also loves me my Burn Notice, but come on – Michael Weston’s capers are often just as in-credible.

  22. I don’t know how most of you can be entertained by television when you analyze everything so much. It’s much more fun to let go of your inhibitions for 45 minutes, buy into the show and be entertained rather then getting irritated by every unrealistic nuance.

    I think part of what makes leverage good is the fact that it is a little campy. I’m an American and I know perfectly well how unrealistic the fight scenes are, but it’s still entertaining. I don’t think Leverage is supposed to be taken 100% seriously.

    Having said that, I will say that season 2 is getting a little redundant.

    Who said they hated the blond girl. You know she is supposed to be a little strange, annoying and quirky. I think her personality is a bit refreshing.

    I’m tired of shows trying to be too real when it it almost impossible for entertaining television to reflect reality, (excluding nature shows, etc.). Nobody is entertained by reality, we watch TV to escape reality! Unless you are one of the few who like watching the weather channel.

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