I do feel obligated to write about Leverage, which has just been renewed for a 5th season on TNT. With all my rants about poorly done American re-makes of British imports, time to eat a few of those rants and talk Leverage. While there has never been any “official” declaration that the TNT series, Leverage, is an American version of the brilliant BBC series, Hustle, the resemblance is strikingly familiar. As Leverage follows a five-person team: a thief, a grifter, a hacker and a retrieval specialist all headed by ‘the mastermind’, Hustle has a fixer, an inside-man, a lure and a master of the long-con, headed by the roper. Similar or not, I really, really like Leverage. Excellent cast, good scripting and just enough comedy and action to not get in the way of ‘the con’.
All to say, Leverage, which stars Timothy Hutton and Gina Bellman (Coupling), definitely holds its’ own against the elder (by 2 years) Hustle. Having just been renewed by TNT for its fifth season, Leverage relies more on gadgets and technology to pull off the con while Hustle uses the brain a bit more to tackle the con. It also is a bit more character driven given that what very little you know about each ‘player’ is handed to you in bits and bobs throughout the series. Having seen all of the Hustle eps, there seems to be a bit more chemistry across the board with the group and you just can’t argue with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. himself at the helm. On the side of Leverage, you do get the only ‘true’ grifter. With Hustle, you get a group of fraudsters with merely the same desire to con greedy millionaires out of their money.
May be just a style point, but I personally like the way Hustle will hit rewind towards the end of each episode revealing the con and not lay out the overall plan in front of the viewer throughout the entire episode. With Leverage, you tend to know more how things will play out as you progress through the hour.
All in all, it’s probably unfair to compare the two just as much as it’s not fair to compare the UK and U.S. versions of The Office. They both approach the same topic in different ways and do what they do, in their own way, really well. FYI, the season finale for Leverage is August 28 on TNT with new episodes in November/December, then 15 S5 episodes to begin summer 2012. Hustle can be see in the U.S. on a number of public television stations nationwide.
Congrats, Leverage, on S5 and on breaking the American re-make curse even though it’s not a true re-make. Check it out and let me know what you think.