Robin Hood-esque ‘Leverage’ a winning series

Posted Dec. 04, 2008, at 5:13 p.m.

The latest original series on TNT makes great use of a couple of old storytelling staples.

“Leverage,” which debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday, features capers pulled off by a Robin Hood-type crew, but with a modern twist.

“Leverage,” which moves to 10 p.m. Tuesdays starting Dec. 9, stars Timothy Hutton as down-on-his-luck former insurance investigator Nathan Ford, who is struggling to overcome the death of his young son.

Ford is hired to ride herd on a group of criminals: Parker (played by Beth Riesgraf), an expert thief; Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), a specialist in Internet and computer fraud; and Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), the team’s muscle. Ford adds grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), a past adversary of his, to the mix.

This kind of setup goes back to “Mission Impossible” in the 1960s, but rarely has it been done with such panache as in this production by Dean Devlin (“Independence Day,” TNT’s “The Librarian” series).

Part of the fun is watching all the fancy gadgets used by the team. The other joy is seeing how Ford attempts to bring his squad members over from the dark side.

“Leverage” continues TNT’s winning streak of original series, which includes “The Closer” and “Saving Grace” (and ignores the hiccup that was “Raising the Bar”). It should prove a bright light amid the darkness of network reruns and “special” programming during December and January.

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