We recently finished watching Leverage. I found out about this series because its creator, John Rogers, has a blog (now on hiatus), Kung Fu Monkey. I had to watch the series so I could read the blog! It's a story about a gang of Robin Hoods who steal back from corporate criminals. The mastermind is drunk Timothy Hutton (son of Jim Hutton, TV's Ellery Queen). His team includes a hitter (Christian Kane), a hacker (Aldis Hodge), a grifter (Gina Bellman) and a thief (Beth Riesgraf).
- The hitter is a serious, deadly ladies man with long hair and outside skills as a chef and country music singer. Kane also choreographs a lot of the fights.
- The hacker is a cocky, geeky black man with a love of orange soda.
- The grifter is a beautiful woman of mystery whose only weakness is on the stage.
- But our favorite is Parker, the thief. She is a beautiful athletic blonde with an on-the-spectrum affect and no interest in anything except stealing.
We haven't made it to the last episode of Arrow yet, but I think we'll make it. The Green Arrow was actually one of my comicbook favorites, because I was in on the classic "Snowbirds Don't Fly" story in 1971, where his sidekick Speedy gets hooked on heroin. The TV series makes a nod to this by giving Oliver Queen a sister Speedy who dabbles in narcotics.
Overall, the show is full of twists, betrayals, romance, and hot action. My favorite part is the storytelling speed. I check the time and see that after 5 plot twists, 2 fight scenes and a character beat, we're only 9 minutes into the episode. They are always raising the stakes, throwing in one more twist, but can still take time out to pause and reflect on a character or two. Plus, Stephen Amell, as the green guy, is a total hunk who takes his shirt off a lot. You know, for the ladies.
But our current craze is The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Somehow, I remember this from my childhood, although I was only 7 when it went off the air. The show stars Dwayne Hickman as the love-struck teenager Dobie, with Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus (what a pair of euphonious appellations!) as his grocer father and doting mother. He chased a lot of girls in the series, but his number one target was the glamorous, money-hungry Thalia Menninger, played by Tuesday Weld (she kind of faded after the first year - got to big for the role). One of his biggest rivals was played by Warren Beatty, who likewise dropped out after a while. But everyone's favorite was Dobie's best friend, played by Bob Denver, was the first beatnik on TV, Maynard G. Krebs.
The plots are pretty standard sit-com misunderstandings and crazy schemes, but there's a touch of oddness to them, like Yvonne Craig as a health-food nut acrobat from a family of free-thinkers, or Charley Wong's ice cream shop, with the wonton sundaes. Hickman makes an appealing hero as well, a thinker and a lover, as he explains to the camera in the park every episode, in front of a statue of the Thinker.
There are about 20 discs in the series and we're thinking of going to a 3-disc/week plan to get them all.
Another childhood favorite is It Takes a Thief (1968), starring Robert Wagner as super-thief Alexander "Sic Transit Gloria" Mundy. He is blackmailed by secret agent Malachi Throne to steal for the government and given a bevy of glamour girl assistants, including Susan St. James. The feel here is second-rate James Bond, with some nice 60s pop-art camera-work. But we didn't like it enough to keep getting the discs - even though Fred Astaire plays Alexander's father later on. I always prefered T.H.E Cat for late 60s superthief shows.
One last little bagatelle - we discovered that Leverage's John Rogers also produced and wrote some of the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoons, so we started watching them when we had 20-minute slot in our schedule. It's actually pretty good - simple but effective artwork with a touch of anime, cute stories, etc. And Jackie himself answers a question from the audience at the end.