DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Release Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

"Leverage" The 2nd Season DVD Review

Buy Leverage: The Complete Second Season from Amazon.com Leverage: Season Two (2009-10)
Show & DVD Details

Creators: John Rogers, Chris Downey / Writers: John Rogers , Chris Downey , Christine Boylan, Amy Berg, Albert Kim, Melissa Glenn, Jessica Rieder, M. Scott Veach / Directors: Dean Devlin, Marc Roskin, Jonathan Frakes, Jeremiah Chechik, Rod Hardy, Peter O'Fallon, Peter Winther

Regular Cast: Timothy Hutton (Nathan Ford), Gina Bellman (Sophie Devereaux), Christian Kane (Eliot Spencer), Beth Riesgraf (Parker), Aldis Hodge (Alec Hardison)

Recurring Characters: Jeri Ryan (Tara Cole), Mark A. Sheppard (Jim Sterling), Richard Kind (Mayor Brad Culpepper III), Robert Blanche (Lt. Patrick Bonanno), Paul Blackthorne (Kadjic), Katie O'Grady (Special Agent Amy Nevins)

Notable Guest Stars: Charles Martin Smith (Glenn Leary), Kevin Chapman (Brandon O'Hare), Madeleine Rogers (Zoe Kerrigan), Brian Goodman (Jed Rucker), Melik Malkasian (Eddie Maranjian), Victor Morris (Deputy US Marshal Robert Corville), Joshua Sawtell (Charlie Merrill), Rick Overton (FBI Agent Taggert), Gerald Downey (FBI Agent McSweeten), Richard Topping (Mark Sanford), Alex Mentzel (Widmark Fowler), Beth Broderick (Monica Hunter), Kevin E. West (Erik Casten), Jennifer Skyler (Dr. Leigh Jameson), Griffin Dunne (Marcus Starke), Wil Wheaton (Colin "Chaos" Mason), Noa Tishby (Raquel Dayan), Apollo Robbins (Apollo), Salvator Xuereb (Jim Kerritty III), Pasha Lynchnikoff (Head Goon), Peter Riegert (Peter Blanchard), Anna Campbell (Ruth Walton), Tom Choi (Russell Pan), Grace Hsu (Gloria Pan), Alan Smyth (Mark Doyle), Odessa Rae (Cora McRory), Kari Matchett (Maggie Collins), Matt Keeslar (Alexander Lundy), Luke Perry (Dalton Rand), Wade Williams (Nickolaus Kusen), David Ellison (Ballard)

Running Time: 425 Minutes (15 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: None; Closed Captioned; Video Extras Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 25, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $39.98
Four single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Clear Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Season 2 Airdates: July 15, 2009 - February 17, 2010

Buy from Amazon.com

For close to ten years now, TNT's slogan has been "We Know Drama." Just as sister Turner station TBS has been adding comedy programming to support its "Very Funny" mantra, TNT has been producing shows befitting its tagline. Since 2005, no fewer than twelve original drama series have turned up, generating new content to accompany the sports, reruns, and movies that have long filled TNT's air time. The cable network perhaps hasn't had the success of FX, AMC, or USA; most of TNT's original series haven't earned major accolades or lived to see a second season.

That makes it easy to group "Leverage" with "The Closer" and "Saving Grace" as one of the hits. On the day before "Grace" signs off, "Leverage" returns for a third season that is guaranteed to bring the show up to at least 44 episodes in total.

"We provide... leverage", mastermind Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) delivers the swell titular line at the start of every episode. Relocated to Boston, the "Leverage" gang is swiftly reassembled at the start of Season 2.

"Leverage" is kind of like "The A-Team" meets Ocean's Eleven. It centers on a group of five cunning individuals who use their many talents not for personal gain but to do good for others. The brains of the operation is Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton), an intelligent recovering alcoholic. Each of his partners brings a different skill set to the team.
There is the grifter, struggling English actress Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), who is able to transform herself to fit any situation. Tech guy Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) handles hacking and obtaining confidential information electronically. Spacy, one-named Parker (Beth Riesgraf) is a thief, unrivaled in pickpocketing. And Elliot Spencer (Christian Kane) is the fighter, willing to use his force and speed when necessary.

In each episode, the vigilante gang looks to help ordinary citizens who have been wronged by the rich and powerful. They con and heist criminals, utilizing their diverse talents to hatch a complex scam that will enact some form of justice without legal trouble or real recognition. The group's full-time restitution work, which often brings them away from their new home base of Boston, is demanding and always marked by the realistic threat they'll be discovered.

This premise could be played out with the edginess and intensity that have become standard M.O. for hour-long television, especially modern-day crime series. But it is not. "Leverage" is fairly lighthearted throughout, making it a refreshing alternative to its broody contemporaries. Realizing the intriguing premise is more than a little far-fetched, the show has fun with it, reveling in the quirky chemistry of its eclectic fivesome.

Twice this season, Elliot (Christian Kane) and Hardison (Aldis Hodge) play partner law officers. Here in "The Lost Heir Job", they're prison guards setting up a complacent convict. In her first official job with the gang, Sophie's replacement/referral Tara Cole ("Star Trek: Voyager" alumnus Jeri Ryan) poses as hot fashion director Caprina, with Nate as her oddly-styled associate.

A comedic bent on a TV drama leaves loads of room for error, but the show is inspired by a winning source. It clearly aspires to the tone of Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's movies. There is significantly less style and slickness, but the show is far from lacking in either of those departments. Even its music sounds remarkably similar to David Holmes' scores on those films. Of course, "Leverage" doesn't have the deftness or dexterity of the Soderbergh capers (of which, the first still stands as a bit of a modern classic, regardless of the lousy sequel and redemptive yet redundant finale).
Even the most talented director accepting TV work doesn't have the gifts and flair of Soderbergh (who could really use a big popular and critical success to put him back in the fold). And while actors like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts are easily labeled mega movie stars, they're also highly skilled performers on whose charms the first film soared.

Occupying the opposite end of the spectrum, "Leverage" has just one famous name in its cast. And star Timothy Hutton still must count his Oscar-winning film debut in 1980 Best Picture Ordinary People as his greatest and best-known accomplishment. (Turning 50 this summer, Hutton has to be the only person with a thirty-year-old Academy Award who could end up as the star of a TNT series and still have that Supporting Actor win advertised. Actually, Tatum O'Neal would have been happy to pull off that feat a few years ago.) Hutton is competent in the lead, pulling off compelling facets like addiction and guilt tactfully but also being game for the somewhat broad hijinks on which most of the time is spent.

Of his four leading co-stars, young ones Hodge and Riesgraf are appropriately spunky. Bellman does some nice work, but her range is glaringly narrower than her character's is supposed to be. The show doesn't really suffer when midway through Season 2, real-life pregnancy reduces Bellman to green screen video phone cameos. Jeri Ryan, of "Star Trek: Voyager" fame, fills the opening competently in the season's second half.

As the fifth regular, Kane, who is also a country singer/songwriter, isn't bad, but I can't stand his long-haired, soft-spoken tough guy character, especially when he requires that hand-to-hand fight sequences figure into nearly every episode. There's none of the camp value that redeemed Chuck Norris' requisite combat bits on "Walker, Texas Ranger."

This must be a fun show for the core actors, every one of whom gets a chance to role-play with costumes and accents. In contrast to some of its basic cable and premium brethren, there are very few guest stars you'll recognize here, even if you're a TV junkie. Ranking among the most accomplished are faces that were familiar long ago: American Graffiti's Charles Martin Smith, An American Werewolf in London's Griffin Dunne, Stand by Me's Wil Wheaton and Luke Perry of "Beverly Hills, 90210." Always entertaining "Spin City" funnyman Richard Kind appears in the season's continuous final two episodes.

Nate stands in front of his bank of TV screens, which here depict the con artist team his is evenly matched with. Can you spot '80s icons Wil Wheaton and Griffin Dunne? For their next trick, Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and Nate (Timothy Hutton) perform a magic act at a highly-security frozen food company where something is rotten.

I can't compare the sophomore year to its predecessor, but it sounds like the first season was designed to stand on its own, wrapping things up should the ever-conceivable cancellation occur. Season 2 opens with a reunion and after turning Nate's apartment into team headquarters, it's back to business.

This is a feel-good, almost wholesome show that should appeal to a wide array of viewers. It's nice that there isn't a rigid structure or palette to the largely self-contained episodes. Each installment takes our anonymous fixers to a different world with unique perils and pitfalls. The bold personalities of these modern day Robin Hoods always come into play, but the patterns are rarely tedious (Eliot's fisticuffs excluded).

"Leverage" packs twists, but generally they're acceptable mild ones, not offensive cheats that require you to re-evaluate entire episodes. Jumping to flashbacks of moments we weren't previously privy to, the show overexplains things, but I guess that is preferable to underexplaining. Oddly, one thing that isn't often clear is how clients hire the team or how the team finds unscrupulous targets and situations worth involving themselves in.

The series is not without some shortcomings, such as bland Nate-Sophie romance bits that precede and punctuate certain episodes and the few visual effects that are clearly limited creatively. Targets seem a bit gullible or overly susceptible to confidence scams. Ultimately, though, you can't take this program too seriously. It's looking to take you on a ride with derring-do, laughs, gadgetry, surprises, and an interesting group dynamic. Does it always make sense or move you in profound ways? No, but it's fairly fun anyway.

View a clip from episode "The Future Job":

"Leverage" is executive produced and often directed by Dean Devlin, the former collaborator of schlocky filmmaker Roland Emmerich, with whom Devlin wrote Independence Day and 1998's Godzilla. In recent years, Devlin has produced those Noah Wyle Librarian movies for TNT. While I can't say I've seen those or really anything else Devlin's touched in over a decade, I can say that "Leverage" puts him in a better place creatively (if not financially) than Emmerich, having recently watched the latter's awful disaster (movie) 2012.

A full month before the Season 3 debut, Paramount issues The 2nd Season of "Leverage" on disc. Like Season 1, which arrived nearly a year ago, this is a DVD-only release, which spreads its contents across four discs. Here are my succinct synopses of the fifteen episodes...

Nate and Parker witness the power of fear as they scare an unrepentantly corrupt investor turned hospital patient in "The Order 23 Job." A pigtailed Sophie (Gina Bellman) steps into eccentric inspirational teacher mode to help a shy kid (Alex Mentzel) discover his talent in "The Fairy Godparents Job."

Disc 1

1. The Beantown Bailout (43:10) (Originally aired July 15, 2009)
After saving a man and his daughter from a car explosion, Nate reluctantly gets back into business with the gang to thwart the mobsters behind the "accident."

2. The Tap-Out Job (43:09) (Originally aired July 22, 2009)
A Nebraska mixed martial arts fighter's suspicious, debilitating loss leads the gang to target the gym's shady promoter, for whom Eliot winds up agreeing to fight.

3. The Order 23 Job (43:10) (Originally aired July 29, 2009)
Looking to hold a lightly-sentenced corrupt investor accountable for his wrongdoings, the gang sets up shop at the hospital to scare him.

4. The Fairy Godparents Job (43:10) (Originally aired August 5, 2009)
The team goes after a home-arrested Ponzi schemer responsible for a clinic's impending closure by taking over his son's private school.

Fitted with a crazy eye and a Samuel L. Jackson fro, Hardison (Aldis Hodge) poses as a conspiracy theorist "helping" Nancy Grace homage Monica Hunter (Beth Broderick) uncover a big scoop. Everyone has a competitive counterpart in "The Two Live Crew Job", but only Elliot's Mossad-trained lady (Noa Tishby) gets wet, undressed, up close and personal.

Disc 2

5. The Three Days of the Hunter Job (42:40) (Originally aired August 12, 2009)
A demonizing Nancy Grace-type reporter (Beth Broderick, "Sabrina the Teenage Witch") brings a school bus driver near suicide.
Switching roles, Sophie runs the scam, which involves feeding the commentator a false story about secret stateside Guantanamo relocation prisons.

6. The Top Hat Job (42:49) (Originally aired August 19, 2009)
An employee learns her big frozen food company is willing to overlook a documented salmonella poisoning threat. To stop that, the team breaks into the tightly-guarded company posing as a corporate magic act.

7. The Two Live Crew Job (43:10) (Originally aired August 26, 2009)
The gang tries to restore a painting stolen in the Holocaust to the descendants of its rightful owner. The job targets a wealthy scam artist (Griffin Dunne) and requires competing against another team with comparably-skilled members.

8. The Ice Man Job (43:10) (Originally aired September 2, 2009)
An armored vehicle driving cop suspected in a robbery seeks to clear his name. Nate and company try to track down the stolen diamonds from the fraudulent original owners.

Crooked Irish loan shark Mark Doyle (Alan Smyth) causes Nate to start drinking again and play poker in "The Bottle Job." Besides taking the gang abroad, "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" reunites and endangers Nate with his ex-wife Maggie (returning Season 1 guest star Kari Matchett).

Disc 3

9. The Lost Heir Job (43:10) (Originally aired September 9, 2009)
A dying rich man's will is contested and lawyer Tara Cole (Jeri Ryan) insists she be a part of the team's actions.

10. The Runway Job (43:10) (Originally aired January 13, 2010)
With Tara still in the mix, the team stands up for sweatshop workers by posing as members of the fashion world willing to help a woman realize her designer dreams.

11. The Bottle Job (42:58) (Originally aired January 20, 2010)
The daughter of the newly-deceased owner of the gang's favorite pub is pressured to pay back a crooked Irish loan shark (Alan Smyth).

12. The Zanzibar Marketplace Job (43:10) (Originally aired January 27, 2010)
The gang travels to Kiev to free Nate's ex-wife (Kari Matchett) and clear her of wrongdoing in the theft of a $9 million Fabergι egg.

Playing a phony version of a John Edward psychic, Luke Perry gets under Parker's skin with his knowledge of the past in "The Future Job." Mayor Brad Culpepper III (Richard Kind) seems sketchy but is protected by his status as a federal snitch in Season 2's final two episodes.

Disc 4

13. The Future Job (43:10) (Originally aired February 3, 2010)
The team toys with and seeks to expose a sham John Edward-like psychic (Luke Perry) who is exploiting a widow for all the money he can.

14. The Three Strikes Job (43:10) (Originally aired February 10, 2010)
When the team finds a link to the shooting of repeat colleague Lt. Bonanno (Timothy Hutton, please work on your pronunciation), they investigate the corrupt incumbent mayor (Richard Kind).

15. The Maltese Falcon Job (43:10) (Originally aired February 17, 2010)
With the FBI and a foe-turned-Interpol officer (Mark A. Sheppard) on their trail and in their hotel, the team tries to unravel the Bonanno shooting mystery and reveal the mayor's shady dealings.

"Leverage" goes grainy to reveal its tricks, sometimes necessarily and sometimes to not leave older viewers confused. Here, Parker coolly saves the day in an elevator stunt. Halfway through Season 2, Sophie's appearances become limited to these hokey foreign video calls. Look at the beret -- she's really in Paris!


"Leverage" offers the now-standard widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation once reserved for cinema. The anamorphic 1.78:1 video delivers exceptional picture quality. This is probably the clearest-looking TV show DVD I've ever encountered. The series is shot on digital cameras in ultra high 4K resolution and transferred with no intermediates. It is stunningly sharp and detailed here, with none of the mild compression and motion shortcomings that get noticed on other top-of-the-line TV transfers. Flashbacks are deliberately grainy and everything else looks pristine.

The soundtrack is also solid, if not extremely engulfing or active. The mix is crisp and even and a few potent surround effects spice things up. Paramount seems to be the only major studio not providing English subtitles on TV shows, but at least closed captioning is offered.

Parker (Beth Riesgraf) proudly shows off the fruits of her pickpocketry to a rival thief. Elliot (Christian Kane) takes issue with an abusive father - oh, fisticuffs, here we come! Like every other episode to date, this one comes equipped with audio commentary.


Paramount treats "Leverage" to a robust collection of extras, starting with an audio commentary on every episode. That's right, the DVD sees the nearly eleven hours of episodes and doubles it aurally. The commentaries are recorded by groups of 3-6 creative staff members. Executive producer/writer John Rogers is part of every track and his co-creator Chris Downey joins him on most of them.
They are typically accompanied by the writer(s) and director of the featured episode. The actors are strangely absent.

Here is the full speaker breakdown:
2.01 - Rogers, Downey, director/executive producer Dean Devlin
2.02 - Rogers, director/producer Mark Roskin, writer Albert Kim
2.03 - Rogers, Downey, Devlin, director Rod Hardy
2.04 - Rogers, writer/supervising producer Amy Berg, director Jonathan Frakes
2.05 - Rogers, Downey, Roskin, writers Melissa Glenn and Jessica Rieder
2.06 - Rogers, Downey, Devlin, director Peter O'Fallon, writers Christine Boylan and Scott Beach
2.07 - Rogers, Devlin, Berg
2.08 - Rogers, Downey, Boylan, director Jeremiah Chechik
2.09 - Rogers, Downey, director Peter Winther
2.10 - Rogers, Kim, Roskin
2.11 - Rogers, Boylan, Frakes
2.12 - Rogers, Chechik, Glenn and Rieder
2.13 - Rogers, Downey, Roskin, Berg
2.14 - Rogers, Downey, Devlin
2.15 - Rogers, Downey, Devlin

Believe it or not, I did something that I bet few fans and critics will do: listened to every one of these commentaries (often while carrying out other tasks). Matching the show, the tracks have a lighthearted tone (supposedly, everyone is drinking through each one), but they also dispense a ton of information regarding the creation of episodes and scenes. These are clearly passionate people, who are glad to discuss (with no lulls) things like their research, techniques, casting, challenges, and filming locations (after Season 1 in Los Angeles, Portland plays Boston in Season 2). They talk about inspirations from headlines, depicting things accurately, the series' rules and hallmarks, and writing for TV audiences who have seen a lot of TV. They even have a kind of shorthand: things are "very 'Rockford'", referring to James Garner's '70s show "The Rockford Files" (after which this is modeled).

While there are surely better ways to spend 11 hours of your life, fans who have already seen all these episodes should really enjoy hearing from their makers. I particularly liked the track on "The Three Days of the Hunter Job" (probably my favorite episode of the season), in which the group humorously skirts around its CNN inspiration (saying Hunter is based on Wayne Gretzky).

John Rogers, Dean Devlin, and Chris Downey, the three executive producers of "Leverage", field questions at a Season 2 premiere Q & A session. Creator/executive producer John Rogers tours Nate's apartment loft that the team calls home base in Season 2. "Behind the Boom..." appears to be in front of the boom that ended Season 1.

Disc 4 also holds a number of video bonus features, all but one of which was created for IF Magazine.

First up comes "The Creators of Leverage Q & A" (18:55) conducted at a July 2009 LA screening of the Season 2 premiere. Dean Devlin, John Rogers, and Chris Downey discuss the series' genesis and how pieces fell into place. Among the other topics raised (the actual questions are synopsized in a few words) are casting Hutton and Riesgraf, the freedoms of cable, Apollo Robbins' pickpocket consultation, real-life inspiration for villains, filming in Portland with many local guest actors, and their guiding philosophies to keep things fresh and fun. It's a good panel piece that covers most of the logical bases in a short amount of time.

Next, executive producer John Rogers gives us a tour (3:07) of the second season's two primary sets, the team's spacious headquarters and the old neighborhood bar "below" that loft apartment.

"Behind the Boom...: The Creation of Special Effects for 'Leverage'" (7:12) shows the staging and aftermath of the massive warehouse explosion that ended Season 1 and a 1:6 scale building miniature destruction.

Less dirty than it sounds, comedic short "The Hand Jobs" has actor Aldis Hodge testing the skills he's learned from the show. Another perk of cable television: a sound guy (Andy Lange) can become a featured soundtrack artist. Timothy Hutton makes Beth Riesgraf talk to the hand as both crack up in the Season 2 gag reel.

The IF "spoof video" "Aldis Hodge Presents The Hand Jobs - Getting What You Want the 'Leverage' Way" (5:07) finds the actor putting some techniques to the test, from surveillance and seduction to sleight of hand and car theft. It's a goofy little diversion.

Also from IF comes an Andy Lange music featurette (2:55), in which that singer-songwriter/"Leverage" sound mixer and Dean Devlin discuss Lange's song "Not Sure Yet" and recount how it came to be part of the Season 2 premiere.

Finally, the wrap party's 9-minute collection of "Season 2 Gags" is longer, more varied, and considerably more amusing than most blooper reels. The first half centers on star shenanigans, while the second half involves crew in partially staged behind-the-scenes antics.

In the only main menu shot that greatly differs from the character's cover art shot, Aldis Hodge's Alec Hardison does his best Chris Tucker sunglasses pose on Disc 4. Beth Riesgraf's Parker is the only lead not to claim a main menu, but you'll likely spend the most time on her Disc 4 Special Features page.

Without language options or many bonus features, Paramount streamlines the playback process to a single static menu for Discs 1 through 3. Strangely, these lack a "Play All" option. Disc 4 adds a single special features menu page, enabling each of the five leads to adorn one menu screen.

Disc One opens with a promo for "Leverage" on TNT and one for a whole host of Paramount-distributed current TV series.

"Leverage" fans with limited shelf space will appreciate that Paramount has packaged the second season in a standard-sized keepcase. It's topped with an entirely redundant cardboard slipcover. With the four discs held on two swinging trays, you are easily able to see the reverse side of the artwork which supplies episode titles, synopses, and airdates.

In episode 2.04, the team takes over a private school, with Nate playing a published German educator, Sophie his drama teacher, and Eliot his physical educator. The "Leverage" team (in its second Season 2 incarnation) walks away proudly from another success in vigilantism.


"Leverage" may not be the sharpest show on television and it's occasionally cheesy or cutesy, but it still provides diverting and likable entertainment. Paramount's DVD goes all out with an outstanding feature presentation, half a day's worth of spirited audio commentaries, and an enjoyable hour of video bonuses. Beyond the strange absence of deleted scenes, I can't imagine fans not being satisfied with this reasonably-priced release. And whether on DVD or TNT, you probably ought to give the series a look. While there is ample room for improvement, "Leverage" succeeds at providing a bubbly good time.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

TiVo Premiere - Free Shipping Get 4 Disney Movies for $1.99 Each, Free Shipping!

Related Reviews:
New: Deadliest Warrior: Season One • The Jeff Dunham Show • Edge of Darkness • Extraordinary Measures • The Spy Next Door
Ocean's Thirteen • 21 • Gone Baby Gone • Rush Hour 3 • Walker, Texas Ranger: The Sixth Season • The Men Who Stare at Goats
Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season • Raising the Bar: The Complete First Season • Castle: The Complete First Season
Action Packed: T.V. Sets • Early Edition: The First Season • FlashForward: Part One, Season One • Life on Mars: The Complete Series
National Treasure (Collector's Edition) • The Lookout • The Verdict (Collector's Edition) • The Hoax • Never a Dull Moment

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Release Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed May 21, 2010.

Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009-10 Johnworld Inc., Electric Entertainment, TNT, and Paramount Home Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.