Karen H has been talking about the TV show Leverage for a while; I finally watched an episode while visiting Michael & Lisa last month. It was fun.
That first one I saw was the most recent to be aired, at the midpoint of season 2, but there's little enough necessary backstory that it was easy to dive into it.
The opening credits do a great job of telling you everything you need to know with a few quick images and a few words. In essence, the show's about a team of criminals—labeled in the opening credits as hitter, hacker, grifter, thief, and mastermind—who rob from immoral rich people (who aren't going to be sufficiently punished by the law), and give to deserving poor people, generally the victims of the rich bad guys.
When I got home from Boston, I discovered that TNT is broadcasting all the season 2 episodes, so I've now seen two or three episodes from the beginning of season 2, and enjoyed them as well—one was laugh-out-loud funny, the others were entertainingly fluffy light diversions. The plots are often kinda silly (more so in season 2, from what I've seen) and full of holes, but I'm mostly succeeding in suspending disbelief. The series isn't Deep, but it's fun mind candy. And it has some nice moments of emotional engagement and/or heartstring-tugging, and the characters are largely very likeable.
Now that I'm done watching Gilmore Girls, I wanted another show to half-watch in the background while I perform the semi-mindless task of entering stories into the database. Last night I had about fifty stories to enter, and no new episodes of Leverage to watch on TiVo, so I had the idea of looking up the series on hulu.com and starting to watch from the beginning of season 1.
It turns out that, although it's not easy to find them, the season-1 episodes are listed on Hulu—but they're listed as being on the TNT website. I followed the link for the first episode, "The Nigerian Job"; the TNT website told me that I could only view the episode on a Windows machine.
Nothing daunted, I went upstairs and booted the iMac into Windows. Ha! Take that, evil minions of DRM!
But when I went to the TNT website, they didn't list the season-1 episodes.
So I went back to Hulu, searched again (you have to search for excerpts, then sort by air date, then hover over items until you find the right episodes), found the link, and followed it—and it turns out the season-1 episodes are on the TNT website, they're just not listed on TNT's list.
And then I clicked Play, and discovered I needed to download some kind of upgraded Microsoft DRM thing.
And then I tried watching the first episode—and it was all in shades of blue and green.
After half a dozen attempts to fix that by doing things like relaunching the browser and restarting my computer, I read the TNT FAQ, and followed a link to a MS help page, where it said to try turning off video acceleration. So I did that, and the normal colors came back!
But full-screen mode didn't work.
So I've now watched the first three episodes of season 1 in a medium-sized window in Windows on my iMac, while entering stories into the database on my MacBook.
Not, perhaps, ideal viewing conditions. (I just discovered that the show is available as an instant-watch download from Netflix, so I may watch the rest of it there.) Nonetheless, the show remains entertaining and charming, and I'm liking season 1 better than season 2—so far, the first season seems to be more often funny, and I like the background season-long story arc that I think they're building toward. The episode I watched tonight, episode 3 of season 1, introduced an antagonist, Sterling, who's exactly what the show needs, and I like the actor significantly more in this role than as Romo Lampkin on BSG.
I've always liked heist/con movies. The "elaborate and improbable plan that must be executed perfectly in spite of all kinds of accidents and contingencies"; the things that inevitably go wrong; and then either the grifters have to scramble and improvise to fix things, or it turns out that they were one step ahead of the opposition all along. When it's done well, I find it very appealing, but I rarely see it done well.
And I imagine that the constraints of a weekly TV series make it nearly impossible to construct a completely airtight con plot every week. But I think the Leverage writers do a pretty good job, and the characters and humor are enough to paper over the gaps for me.
(One specific suspension-of-disbelief item: at the end of most episodes, the team gives a whole lot of money to their client. So far, there's been no attempt to address how the client gets away with using all that money without, for example, attracting the attention of the IRS. I'm treating this as a genre convention, which lets me mostly ignore the implausibility of it.)