October 13th, 2013


The Feels Job

Leverage was a fun show. Clever, well- and amusingly-made, and wish-fulfilling: unlike with Law and Order, which I never quite got into, Leverage justice can come from more than some awful person getting arrested, but by getting hoisted on his/her own petard so their victims could have some more satisfying form of closure. (Plus Leverage was a show with much less murder.*) It could be outlandish, and the cons would rarely work that way in reality -- though I like that the show often showed the consequences of a con going too well, like in "The Miracle Job" -- but it was usually charmingly outlandish, like in "The First Contact Job." I could go "not real" when it wasn't, but still enjoy it.

I only saw scattered episodes of the first season here and there, before Comcast limited the number of cable channels I got with the basic cable package so that I no longer had TNT, but I caught up later via DVD sets I borrowed from the library. I was amused at how the show, from the second season on, used Portland, Oregon to double for all sorts of places; I'd be a little let down to see that in reality, the stairway that's supposed to be the entrance to the John McRory's bar is covered with a board and of course never led to a bar anyway. I only rarely ran into the production, though it was all over the city. I watched one scene get shot once, in 2012, for the final season's "The Low Low Price Job." Co-star Christian Kane and a guest star flirted in front of a market on NW Thurman, and I sat in the Kenny & Zuke's across the street and watched. (I took pictures of them and of the production staff filling up the market parking lot, but erased them at a security man's request.) Later, on the street, Kane walked past me. MY BRUSH WITH TV ACTORS. I didn't geek out at him over Angel. Anyway.

The fifth and final season of Leverage almost didn't get released on DVD, but when it was announced that it would, I vowed to buy that set, to give the show a sale it might not otherwise have had. Also that'd let me see the show earlier than if I'd had to wait for a library copy. And so I spent the last couple of weeks watching the whole season.

I actually got emotional at some of the episodes. Especially one that, when I'd first heard they were doing it, seemed especially outlandish: "The D.B. Cooper Job." When that one was filming last year, I saw stills with the actors in Seventies clothes and with Seventies hair, and thought "It's a time travel episode?!" I'd misinterpreted. It was a flashback episode, with the main Leverage actors playing the participants in the Dan "D.B." Cooper hijacking drama that happened in the Northwest before I was even born. I understood better as the episode began, with locations not far from Portland's Reed College looking credibly like neighborhoods in 1971, but then thought So after all this time, they're somehow going to solve the mystery of D.B. Cooper? Yeah, right. Except that in the version of reality Leverage exists in, they did. In a way that was emotionally affecting. And could even sort of, kind of, fit into the version of the world where we live. And was one hell of an antidote to the near-reflexive cynicism of the show's main character, Nate Ford (who's cynical for good, sad reasons, but still).

Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised I reacted like this. The fourth season had a really well-done flashback episode, "The Van Gogh Job," about finding a lost Van Gogh in World War II Europe. I like that it even had an in-character reason for the convenience of the main Leverage cast appearing in this 1940s story: it was easier for Parker, who doesn't think like most people, to picture her colleagues in the story. Maybe that time I had more of an emotional reaction because Parker was having more of an emotional reaction. She connected with Danny Glover's veteran character through this story. And in "The D.B. Cooper Job," Nate connected with someone he didn't expect to connect to. And that episode went from "exercise in cleverness" to "having an emotional point."

And that's another sign Leverage worked. When it needed to be sincere, it could be. It had emotional payoffs...as well as the in-joke payoffs, some of which have made me laugh out loud. (A sense of humor that makes sense for the world of the show helps a LOT. It's a big part of why I got into Justified while watching The Walking Dead, whose second season had almost no humor at all, became for me a sad slog.)

It's been a fun, satisfying trip, watching Leverage (as was watching kradical finally get to play around in Leverage-World with his novel The Zoo Job), and I made sure to thank show co-creator John Rogers on Twitter. He in turn thanked Portland for being a city he'd been happy to work in. Sounds like it was a fun, satisfying trip for him, too.

* What made me really "get" other police procedurals like NYPD Blue and the great Homicide: Life on the Street while only barely sort of getting L&O is a subject for another entry. I also should admit that I finally gave original-flavor L&O a try and started to "get" it more...in its 19th and final season. I'll likely never be the sort who watches L&O reruns as "comfort viewing" the way lots of people do.
Portland Timbers

Yes! A win that counts!

"Is the Man of the Match going to be the crossbar?" - me during
the Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders game

The words that usually go through my mind when the Timbers win are "Whoa," "yay," and "phew." Winning 1-0 against a Seattle team that reeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted to avenge its loss against Vancouver last week inspired all three, especially since that could easily have been 2-1 Seattle had those two balls not ricocheted off the crossbar.

I wound up watching the game at Tennessee Red's, a Southern-ish bar next to Ladd's Addition. I'd tried another bar at first at my friend Gerald's suggestion, but when I got to that first place I asn't feeling it: very few people there, the main TVs set to the ALCS, and basically no sign that anyone there was going to be watching, or want to watch, the Timbers. And I wasn't in the mood to assert myself by asking "Hey, you going to show Timbers? Otherwise I'm not eating or drinking here." I'm just some guy showing up with a backpack who they've never seen before, and I doubted that anyone I knew would show up, so I decided try something else. And I made it -- via walking and a little bit of jogging -- in time to see the game start.

There were multiple TVs, and I did watch a bit of the ALCS as the Boston Red Sox hosted the Detroit Tigers. I managed to ignore the Sunday Night Football game that also was on, seeing if I can hold to my vow to avoid the NFL this season. And considering the game was Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys -- the first NFL team I rooted for (the last season that they won the Super Bowl!) versus my first "Root for anyone who plays them!" team -- I was happy I could hold myself to not watching, because my high school-age self would NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO LOOK AWAY. Besides, it's too easy to miss a key moment in soccer, because it stops for almost nothing.

So. Some beer (a cider), a sandwich with au jus and brisket, fries, and cringing at the close calls that come so often in soccer. Preceded and followed by walking. That was my exercise tonight!