While I blog about a lot of TV shows, there are even more shows that I watch and don’t write about, whether for scheduling reasons or because, while I like them, there isn’t necessarily enough meat there to merit episode-by-episode analysis. (This is known in my corner of the TV blogging game as “The ‘NCIS’ Factor.”)
One of those shows is TNT’s “Leverage,” which is a fun caper series I always mean to write about on occasion but usually get so far behind in my viewing that it doesn’t seem worth the bother just to talk about how sweet it was when Eliot beat up 17 guys with one arm dislocated behind his back.
I did, however, get to see the second of Sunday’s two episodes (TNT is running double-headers at 9 & 10 for at least the first few weeks of this season), and it’s a pretty cool one, about which I’ll have a few thoughts after the jump.
Not only does it guest star Giancarlo Esposito from “Breaking Bad” as an aspiring African dictator in need of some Nate Ford humbling, but the episode takes advantage of one of Aldis Hodge’s many hidden talents(*) by putting Hardison in a situation where he has to play a violin solo at a concert to help the crew pull off a heist.
(*) The summer that “Leverage” launched, Fienberg and I approached Hodge at Turner’s press tour party, mainly so we could gab about his stint as Ray “Voodoo” Tatum on “Friday Night Lights.” (And so we could use the phrase “Ray ‘Voodoo’ Tatum” as often as possible in a 10-minute conversation.) Instead, we mainly wound up talking about Hodge’s many, many, many outside talents and projects. Among the ones we can remember him listing are a black belt in some martial art (he said he hoped there would be a Hardison/Eliot fight scene one day so he can Christian Kane could see who was really the baddest), watch repair, screenwriting and, we think, aircraft design. Even if he could really only do half the things he claimed, he’d be in serious renaissance man territory, and “Leverage” co-creator Chris Downey says he wrote this episode to pay off a promise he made in season one to find a way to work Hodge’s violin skills into an episode.
There are the usual fake identities and fight scenes and double-reverses, but what makes “The Scheherazade Job” more notable than your average “Leverage” is that a good chunk of the heist sequence (including one of the better Eliot fight scenes they’ve done) is filmed largely without dialogue, and is instead accompanied by the classical piece Hardison is playing. I complain sometimes about shows (particularly those on ABC) that lean too heavily on their musical scores to tell you how to feel about certain scenes, but this is a more traditional, very effective use of score to make this particular job stand out from the many others we’ve seen Nate pull off in episodes past.
Alan says check it out if you’re around on Sunday at 10 (or if you have one of those newfangled DVR thingees).