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Featured TV on DVD Review: Leverage: Season Three

June 3rd, 2011

Leverage: Season Three - Buy from Amazon

Season three of Leverage had the best ratings during the show's run so far. And with Season four starting in a few weeks, there's no better time for this DVD to his the home market. However, while it earned the best ratings, was it also the best in terms of quality?

The Show

First a recap of season two, which will contain some spoilers. At the end of season two, the heat was too much for the team, so to prevent them all from going to jail, Nate took the fall. So season three starts with him in jail, a private jail. At first Nate doesn't want his team to bust him out, as it would just risk their freedom. However, after he learns the jail is run by a corrupt warden who has been bribing judges so they would hand out stiffer penalties, he has to take him down. In the process, he is contacted by a mysterious woman (Elisabetta Canalis) who has a major job for him. He has six month to take down Damien Moreau, a banker to dictators, criminals, and terrorists, or he will go back to jail and his team will fall victim to a number of accidents. This is the main storyline that flows through the season, although it is certainly in the background in most episodes, far in the background in some cases.

There are plenty of highlight episodes this season, including The Inside Job with Richard Chamberlain as Parker's mentor. I liked The Double Blind Job for a couple reasons. Firstly, it's frustratingly real. It's about a corrupt CEO of a pharmaceutical company that is releasing a medication that they know will cause kidney failure resulting the deaths of thousands. He knows the deaths will eventually be traced back to the company and they will be forced to pay a fine, but he also knows even if the fine is in the billions, the profits will be higher. Unfortunately, in real life it is worse, as those fines are actually tax deductible in many cases. The second reason I like this episode, is it features a short appearance by Lisa Foiles, who will hopefully return to making Top Five Lists on the Escapist soon. If you like Christian Kane's singing, then The Studio Job will certainly be a highlight episode for you. The Gone Fishin' Job features a guest appearance by Clancy Brown as a former IRS agent who now funds a anti-government militia. On a serious note, I can't imagine the sheer willpower that must be needed to direct Clancy Brown and not say to him, "That was great, now can we have one more take, but this time do it like Mr. Krabs." And then I would be fired.

Totally worth it.

Bill Engvall makes a guest appearance in The Boost Job as a used car salesman selling stolen cars. The Three-Card Monte Job has some of the most emotional scenes in the show, as the "mark" is Tom Skerritt, who plays Nate's father, Tom Ford. It's easily one of the best episodes of the show's run. The same can be said of The Rashomon Job, but for an entirely different reason. The early episode has emotional heft, the latter is pure entertainment. (In that episode, we hear several different account of the four members of the team trying to steal the same dagger on the same night.) The King George Job is another more emotional episode, this time delving into the past of Sophie Devereaux. The Ho Ho Ho Job is on the other end of the scale and features the return of Chaos, the super hacker and Alec Hardison nemesis. Three of the final four episodes deal with Damien Moreau, so I won't get into those for fear of revealing spoilers, but I will say the show ends on a very high note, even if that climactic gun fight was a little too over-the-top.

So is season three the best season so far? In a word, maybe. There was a definite improvement from season one to season two. In fact, there was a definite improvement from the pilot to the rest of the first season. However, the difference between season two and season three is less pronounced. As I said, The Three-Card Monte Job and The Rashomon Job are among the best episodes in the show's run, and there are no episodes that are really duds. So yes, I would say it is a tiny improvement. The writing is a little sharper, some of the character development is moving the show in a good direction, and the cast and crew have generally hit their grove. There are a couple minor issues that are sometimes problems. Firstly, they tend to use a lot of names for their cons, but they are obvious fake names. I know it's a running gag, but sometimes it makes you want to roll your eyes. Also, like last season, some of the flashbacks seemed aimed at those with ADHLAP. (That stands for Attention Deficit - Hey Look, A Puppy.) Both those are minor complaints compared to the overall quality of the show.

The Extras

There are an incredible amount of extras on the 4-disc set, starting with audio commentary tracks on all 16 episodes. They are informative and entertaining and certainly worth listening too. Disc one also has deleted scenes for The Scheherazade Job and some outtakes. Disc two has two deleted scenes from The Studio Job and The Gone Fishin' Job plus a short featurette on the two new writers for the series. Disc three has two featurettes, the first on the producers and the second on the writers. They are both tiny and combined run just five minutes, but you get some insight here. The final disc has one deleted scene and an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette.

Like the first two DVDs, there are no subtitles, no play-all buttons, and no proper chapter placements.

The Verdict

Leverage: Season Three is only a little bit better than Season Two, but since that DVD was a contender for Pick of the Week, this one is an easy recommendation and clearly Pick of the Week material.

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