Cast of Leverage around a Painting

Leverage Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Leverage
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 15
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  TNT
  • Cast: Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, Jeri Ryan, Mark Sheppard (semi-regular)
  • DVD: R1, NTSC DVD

The second season of Leverage reunites the crew and moves the show to Boston, although they filmed in Portland, Oregan. But where the first season had Nate and his tame thieves going after corporate criminals – in the second season, the cases they work tend to be more personal – a corrupt wrestling trainer and promoter, a loan shark mobster, even Nate’s wife finds herself framed for a multi-million dollar art theft. Also, Sophie temporarily leaves the group, only to be seen from the shoulders up in the occasional video call. She’s replaced by Jeri Ryan as Tara. And while Ryan is good, she never quite develops the chemistry that existed between Sophie and Nate. Sophie returns at the very end of the season.

The last two episodes on the set are a two-parter, ending in a cliff-hanger with Nate getting shot during a con and none of his team realizing it. He also offers to let himself get arrested and then turn state’s evidence as long as his team is set free.

I liked seeing Portland as Boston – it was a nice change from L.A. and led to some beautiful scenes. In cloudy scenes, the colors are more muted and the details have a look that avoids sharp shadows or harsh lighting – it’s like natural portrait lighting and it’s gorgeous. In sunny scenes, because of the higher latitude – both Timothy Hutton and guest stars with brunette hair get red highlights – it looks gorgeous. Also, it’s nice to see outdoor scenes in different places one usually doesn’t see on TV or in the movies.

Overall, I didn’t like season 2 of Leverage as much as season 1 – I preferred the corrupt corporate bad guys, and I really missed Sophie, but at the same time I re-watched these because I wanted to figure out if I wanted to finish buying the series and get seasons 3-5 or if I wanted to pull it from my collection, because I hadn’t seen Leverage in a while. Well, I definitely want season 3! Season 2 also still manages to have some very good episodes, and it’s still just a fun, enjoyable series to watch.

Recommended.

Leverage Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Leverage
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  TNT
  • Cast: Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, Mark Sheppard (semi-regular)
  • DVD: R1, NTSC DVD

Nathan Ford was a high-powered insurance investigator, recovering stolen art so his company, Lys Insurance didn’t have to pay the claims until his son developed cancer. The company refused to pay for medical treatment for Ford’s son, and as a result, Sam Ford died. Nathan lost his job, his wife divorced him, and he slid into depression and alcoholism. Then one day, Nathan runs into someone with a similar story of being screwed-over by a rich company and having no legal recourse against it. So Nathan decides to help and recruits several thieves and con artists he had run in to in his former career. Thinking it’s a one-time thing with a big payoff, the four Nathan recruits – Parker, Sophie Devereaux, Alec Hardison, and Eliot Spencer agree to help out once. But the team soon realize that they have a good thing going and decide to continue.

Nate usually finds and brings in clients, but occasionally one of the others will find out someone they know needs help and suggests the potential client call “Leverage Consulting”. Often clients only want back the money or property they lost, or simply want the company to pay – such as acknowledging a mistake. Often the client can’t sue for various reasons (it’s too expensive, lawsuits take too long – often years, while what the company or person did was immoral or harmful it wasn’t technically illegal, etc.) But Nathan and his crew can provide what their clients want. Once Leverage Consulting accepts a client, Nathan plans out the con they will pull on the target. Sophie is the “grifter” – a gifted con artist and in the sphere of running cons actress. She also has experience as a high-end thief. Parker is the thief with experience in breaking into any sort of museum, vault, private collection, etc. Eliot is basically muscle, and also fills in where needed, sometimes as back-up for Sophie, other times as back up for Parker. Hardison is a computer hacker. He can also pull an in-person con, but he prefers to use his hacking skills. Hardison can also produce fake ids and other credentials as needed.

The show is great fun, with lots of action. However, it’s often intelligently written, with snappy dialogue, and complex, well-written, smart plots. Most of the time an episode will have a twist – the audience thinks it’s going in one direction, but it then goes in another direction. This will often involve what looks to be a major setback, but in reality, was something Nathan had planned in advance, often to further embarrass the target or to get them arrested by exposing illegal actions. Essentially, each episode of Leverage is a small heist film, that is filmed beautifully and uses great stunts and effects. But unlike some action-oriented films and television shows, Leverage is also smartly-written, which makes it very enjoyable.

I like Leverage a lot. I bought seasons 1 and 2 when the show aired and watched season 3 on TNT, but like many of TNT’s shows, Leverage could be hard to find. I decided to re-watch the show to see if I wanted to purchase the final three seasons. My answer is “yes”. This show is recommended, it’s fun, there’s plenty of action, the dialogue is witty and smart, there’s an emotional core to the stories because they deal with people who feel real and have real problems, it’s just a good show.

The Librarians Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: The Librarians
  • Season: Season 4
  • Episodes: 12
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: TNT
  • Cast: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Harlan Kim, Rachel Nichols
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The fourth and final season of The Librarians doesn’t have a major arc villain like Moriarity or Prospero. Or rather, it does, but for the majority of the season, Flynn, Jenkins, and the Librarians think that Nicole is simply Flynn’s previous Guardian and are happy to have her back. But from the beginning, Nicole seems to be hiding something. She shows up just as Flynn and Eve are rehearsing for the tethering ceremony that will tie The Library to the real world and make Flynn and Eve immortal. Nicole’s arrival slowly causes chaos and division through the entire group. She attempts to talk Eve out of becoming Immortal – showing her concrete examples of the pain it’s caused her (Nicole is also Immortal). And she tries to talk Flynn into leaving The Library.

Flynn is in the first five episodes of the season, instead of disappearing for a few episodes here and there. In “[The Librarians] And the Bleeding Crown” Flynn meets his idol, a lonely previous Librarian from the 1800s, who seems to be the real-life model for Sherlock Holmes. Darrington Dare convinces Flynn there can only ever be one Librarian. Dismayed at the idea of firing his team, Flynn leaves, having apparently resigned.

In the next episode, Eve ends up chasing Nicole, who uses the time to convince her that becoming an Immortal is a bad idea. Eve continues as Guardian, but she’s also worried by Dare’s cryptic warnings and Flynn’s departure. The next episode has Baird take the entire group, minus Flynn and Jenkins, to a team-building adventure camp, only to discover mysterious disappearances linked to an ancient forest.

Cassandra then gets her chance at a solo mission/vacation. She decides to spend some time in “the safest town in America”, which happens to be in Ohio. There, she meets a scared single mother and her smart-as-a-whip son. The son is the only person in the small town who thinks the safety record is a little too good. Cassandra discovers the mayor captured a fairy as a child, and made two wishes, then captured the fairy in a snow globe depicting the town. When the snow globe is accidentally cracked, the fairy goes on a rampage – making it a very dangerous town indeed. Cassandra, with help from the young boy, is able to solve the problem on her own, and even sees the fairy safely released.

The team returns minus Jenkins and Flynn for the next episode, “[The Librarians] And a Town Called Feud” where a Civil War reenactment that’s gotten a few things wrong raises a few ghosts. Even with their new differences, the team unites to not only figure out the issue and solve the ghost story mystery but also to fix it without anyone getting hurt, and to set right the person who got the history wrong in the first place.

There is also the marvelous “[The Librarians] and Some Dude Named Jeff” where Jenkins is body-swapped with “Jeff” a D&D player who works at a “Geek Squad” analog. Jenkins finds Jeff’s D&D group and leads them in a very real and dangerous quest to get him back to the Library. Each of the members of the group solve one puzzle along the way. Once he’s back in the Library Jenkins and Jeff, who isn’t a bad guy, must defeat a monster that Jeff’s accidentally released by using an actual grimoire in his spell. Jenkins learns about the joys of D&D and true friendship – and Jeff learns his life isn’t really all that bad – and it’s his life. It’s a very fun episode.

The final two episodes are a conclusion to the season and to the series. The Library is about to separate from reality, and Jenkins pressures Eve to tether with one of the Librarians to save it. Rachel returns and causes chaos again, putting the Librarians into a nightmare world. Even as Eve figures out she’s also in a nightmare, it’s too late and Cassandra, Stone, and Ezekiel all resign as Librarians. Jenkins, now mortal (having used his Immortality to save Nicole) is killed by Nicole. But Eve also discovers that Flynn is alive and that he was knocked out and was being held hostage by Nicole. She rescues him, and ultimately, time travel is used to go back to the first episode of the season, where Flynn and Eve decide to actually tether to the Library instead of simply rehearsing. This, of course, means the entire season never happened – Nicole is talked out of taking the potion that made her immortal in the first place. She doesn’t stop Eve and Flynn from tethering. And one wonders if the rest of the season happened at all and if it was different.

I enjoyed TNT’s The Librarians very much. It’s a fun, light, enjoyable adventure series. There’s magic, and time travel, and math. For a series that sounded like a D&D adventure brought to life (or at least to television), it was interesting to see the show itself both honor and lampshade its source material. I’m sad TNT decided not to renew this show, and it’s too bad no other platform picked it up. But I highly recommend all four seasons of The Librarians and the three previous movies.

My review of Season 1 of The Librarians.

My review of Season 2 of The Librarians.

My review of Season 3 of The Librarians.

The Librarians Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: The Librarians
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: TNT
  • Cast: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Harlan Kim, David S. Lee
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The Librarians is a fun and light adventure series from TNT and producer/creator Dean Devlin. It’s always enjoyable and the third season is no exception. Noah Wyle, who always brings an extra spark to the show is present in eight of the ten episodes, which brings this season to life. Also, The Librarians avoids the money-saving pitfall of other programs with a small ensemble cast and doesn’t split them up for episodes at a time. Instead, the younger Librarians, who are now seasoned professionals, are together in every episode. Rather than an advisor who drops by occasionally, Flynn is their mentor, and even Jenkins gets into the action occasionally (he gets to sword fight!).

The first episode sets up the season, as Apap, an Egyptian demi-god is released from his sarcophagus. He can possess people and turn them to his will. Apap’s ultimate goal, though, is to release ultimate evil into the world, preferably by destroying The Library. Later, Flynn Carson will obtain the Eye of Ra which can defeat Apap, but it requires a human sacrifice to work. In the season finale, Flynn plans to sacrifice himself to defeat Apap and restore the Library.

During the season, Charlene, whom we learn is the original Guardian, and whom Jenkins loves deeply, though she loves someone else, goes missing. When she is found in Shangri-la, she ends-up having to sever her connection to the library. Charlene goes beyond the mirror, with Judson. Flynn and Jenkins take it very hard. Charlene’s sacrifice strengthens Flynn’s resolve to sacrifice himself to defeat Apap.

The secondary bad guy for the season is DOSA, the Department of Statistical Anomalies, a “secret government agency” whose goal is to collect artifacts, guard them with technology, and find and destroy the Library and the Librarians. It’s such an old conspiracy plot. And DOSA reminds me of ARGUS in DC Comics, especially as the head of DOSA is an African–American woman, Gen. Cynthia Rockwell, Baird’s old mentor, and commander. As usual, DOSA has no idea how dangerous the artifacts are, though Eve’s well-played betrayal turns out to be double-edged as she and Flynn planned it as a trap for Apap.

The individual stories, however, are considerable fun. The first story introduces the villain and themes of the season. The second is a classic base-under-siege story with werewolves. The third, “The Librarians and the Reunion of Evil” was one of my favorites so far in the series. I loved the frost giants! The “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” was a timey-whimy adventure in Greek Myth, and I enjoyed it immensely. The carnival episode felt like a Ray Bradbury story. I thought it was very unique that the show combined the Bermuda Triangle with Alice in Wonderland, in episode 6, this is also where Flynn gets the Eye of Ra and the entire episode is beautifully shot. “The Curse of Cindy” was the only episode of the season I didn’t care for. But in episode 9, Shangri-la was beautiful and provided a necessary element for the finale. The day-walking vampires who simply wanted to exist was a new take on “good guy” vampires. Overall, like previous seasons, Season 3 is simply fun, and light, and enjoyable to watch. The team has come together well, and it was great seeing Noah Wyle in nearly every episode. Highly recommended.

One odd note, Christian Kane, as Jacob Stone, seemed perpetually angry all season long, and delivered his dialogue in a husky undertone like he was about to explode in anger. It was weird and disconcerting. But that was the only negative of the season.

See also My Review of Season 2 of The Librarians.

See also My Review of Season 1 of The Librarians.

The Librarians Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: The Librarians
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: TNT
  • Cast: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Harlan Kim, David S. Lee, Richard Cox
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The second season of TNT’s The Librarians brings back Noah Wyle for the first two episodes and the last two episodes. The series is a sequel to the Librarian movies, and the first two episodes play like one of the movies, as the Librarians are reunited with Eve and Flynn for four separate quests at a museum only to have to face down Moriarty, a Fictional, and Prospero – Shakespeare’s magician. Prospero is determined to change his fate and not follow the story as written by Shakespeare.

Unfortunately, we really don’t see Prospero or Moriarty until the last two episodes of the season, which also bring back Noah Wyle as Flynn, the Librarian. The opening and closing two-parters are great, and could even be viewed together, without watching the intervening episodes. The stand-alone stories, featuring the younger Librarians are hit-or-miss. John Larroquette is wonderful as Jenkins, caretaker of the Annex, and with the library back – now the Library as well. The first episode without Noah Wyle gives us background on Stone and his issues with his father (a real piece of work). “The Cost of Education” could have been a fun HP Lovecraft-type story – instead it’s full of stereotypes about college life. Not only that but the young, gifted, highly intelligent woman – very like Cassandra, is talked into leaving university and pursuing magic – without even being a librarian. It was an annoying episode. The episode, “And the Hollow Men” brings back Flynn, but has a strange quality to it. As you can tell from the title, “And the Infernal Contract” is a tale of Faust or the Devil and Daniel Webster set during a mayoral race in a small New England town. “The Image of the Image” is a fun version of the story of Dorian Gray, though, like the previous episode, it was painfully obvious where it was going from the beginning. “And the Point of Salvation” was extremely fun – from Jenkins actually casting a spell to call and bind the fairy Puck (fitting in nicely with the Shakespearean theme of the season) to Jones and Stone binding over figuring out the video game they are stuck in – it’s much more unique than many of the other stand-alone episodes of the season. I also loved the growth in Jones’ character, though they punched the reset button on that at the end of the episode.

The final two episodes bring back Moriarty and Prospero – not to mention a trip through time, and Shakespeare. It’s the type of fun the show is known for and was so prevalent in Season 1. Eve and Flynn also have great chemistry in the episode. And I loved the cameo of the TARDIS and the Back to the Future DeLorean in the time machine room.

Overall, though I enjoyed season 2, Prospero was such a great villain I wish we’d seen more of him. And Moriarty was written and played brilliantly as not the epitome of evil, but a complicated man trapped by his circumstances. I’d still recommend the series though.

Read my Review of the Librarians Season 1.

The Librarians Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: The Librarians
  • Season: Season 1
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: TNT
  • Cast: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette, Rebecca Romijn, Christian Kane, Lindy Booth, John Harlan Kim, Matt Frewer
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

TNT’s The Librarians is the sequel series to three made-for-TV movies starring Noah Wyle. I have reviewed those films on this blog please see links below.

The first episode of The Librarians plays like another “The Librarian” TV Movie, as Noah Wyle returns as the Librarian, Flynn Carsen, working out of The Library hidden beneath New York’s Metropolitan Library, and home to a collection of hidden knowledge and magical artifacts. Flynn meets Eve Baird, his new Guardian. They discover someone is killing off potential Librarians, and gather together three people who were also meant to become Librarians: Jake Stone – a oil rigger with a 160 IQ with an encyclopedic knowledge of art history, architecture, and related areas; Cassandra Cillian – a woman who’s brain tumor makes her both a synesthetic (someone who sees numbers as colors; or associates complicated formulas with smells) and a genius at math; and Ezekiel Jones – a thief. Together, Flynn, Eve, and his new Librarians try to stop the Serpent Brotherhood, led by Dulaque (Matt Frewer) from using Excalibur and the Stone to release magic into the world. They fail. Eve is nearly killed, Cassandra betrays everyone then comes back to the fold when she realizes her mistake, magic is released, and Dulaque escapes. However, all is not lost, Flynn survives, Charlene and Judson release the Library into Space and Time to prevent Dulaque from taking it or destroying it, and Flynn realizes he’s going to need help from his new recruits. He turns them over to Jenkins at the Library Annex to solve mysteries and capture magical artifacts, and leaves to find the Library.

The new team, under Jenkins, works to find and return to the Annex dangerous magical artifacts, and to help people threatened by the newly released magic in the world. From a town threatened by fairy tales, to the Minotaur, to helping Santa bring good will back to the world, the Librarians travel far and wide, helping people and putting down magical threats. The episodes seem to be self-contained however, every story brings them an element that ends up being extremely important to the final episode of the season. In the final story, Flynn returns again, and they attempt to bring back The Library. Dulaque arrives, kills his assistant Lamia, and opens a door to the River of Time and the Loom of Fate. Dulaque cuts the Threads of the Loom. Eve and an alternate non-Librarian version of Flynn must find a way to stop Dulaque. The leap from reality to reality finding alternate Librarian versions of the Librarians: Cassandra – a powerful magic user from a world filled with dragons; Jones – a scientist in a world where most of the population has been turned into ghosts; and Stone – the Librarian. Eve and these alternate versions must find a way to repair the Loom, stop Dulaque, and prevent Eve’s death. Along the way, we discover Jenkins’ secret past, as well as Dulaque’s “real” identity.

The Librarians is a fun, light, enjoyable series. It has magic and adventure, and for the most part no one is really ever harmed. Noah Wylie appears periodically through the series, and the episodes are always better when he’s there. However, the Librarians and their Guardian form a D&D-type adventuring group: The Soldier (Eve Baird), the Thief (Ezekiel Jones), The Scientist/Mathematician (Cassandra Cillian – rather than a Magician); and the Historian/Art Expert (Jones Stone). It’s a slightly more modern version of D&D heroes. Recommended.