In a desert filled with cop and lawyer shows, we’re desperate for a criminal-series oasis, which TNT handily provides in Leverage, a caper drama in the “Oceans” vein. (It premieres Sunday 7 at 10pm before moving to its regular Tuesday time slot.)
In recent years, NBC, CBS and FX have all tried heist shows, but nothing made much of a splash. FX’s Thief, definitely the best of the bunch, lost viewers by being too bleak. (Mae Whitman and Andre Braugher weeping and screaming against a backdrop of post-Katrina New Orleans was a bummer.) Others, like Heist and Smith, were convoluted, and AMC’s British import Hustle was too slick and quick to have broad appeal. So Leverage learns from those shows’ mistakes and goes for more episodic storytelling and a lot less intensity, which is fine, because this is television and not family therapy. Leverage will be a bigger hit than its predecessors because it’s not extraordinary.
It’s still good, though. Timothy Hutton stars as the reluctant head of a band of specialized criminals (the computer guy, the nimble girl, the con man) who settle on a steal-from-the-dicks-and-give-to-the-poor plan: They want to help the little guys get leverage against villainous corporations and such. It’s fun and exciting, and deftly edited for optimum suspense. But it’s from the creators of The Librarian series of TV movies, the 1998 version of Godzilla, and Independence Day, so feel free to send your thinking cap to the cleaners. Sometimes you want to take a break from polishing your Fields Medal and just watch people break into shit and steal stuff. If black outfits and harness contraptions are part of the story, so much the better.