'Leverage' Christmas Episode Recap
by Danny Gallagher, posted Dec 13th 2010 11:10AM
['Leverage' - "The Ho, Ho, Ho Job"]
Every December, our eyeballs are bombarded with holiday-themed episodes and specials. Usually, the only thing that is remotely special is a guy pretending to be Santa or some cranky curmudgeon learning the true meaning of Christmas.
Bah humbag, how many times does a TV character have to learn that giving is better than getting before my TV realizes I already know that?
'Leverage' seemed to realize most of the pitfalls of turning their crew loose during the holidays with last Sunday's mid-season opener and did a good job of avoiding them, only to fall for the honey-baked ham dangling over the biggest hole of them all.
Last night's return of TNT's high-tech 'A*Team' wasn't all bad to this Christmas-special Grinch. It still felt like a typical 'Leverage' episode: high-spirited, fast paced and teeming with underdog pathos and humor. There were parts where it got too Christmas-y, but it didn't get in the way of what makes the show work.
This time, the perfect mall Santa got thrown out on his bowl-full-of-jelly-like can for drinking on the job. It was an obvious frame job even though without the red suit, he looked like every drunk uncle the world has ever known. This led the crew on a multi-layered cake of treachery, fraud and theft and all at the most generous time of the year. What a shame. Not even underground hackers and grifters get a Christmas break.
Even for a typical 'Leverage' episode, it moved pretty damn fast. It felt at first if it was racing to the end to meet some sort of invisible deadline. You really couldn't look away from it for more than a minute.
It also laid on the Christmas theme pretty thick, like it's trying to make up for lost holiday time. Every other line was a reference to a Christmas carol or a pop culture holiday classic. "'Tis the season to move your ass" sounded like it belonged on a clearance sale Hot Topix T-shirt. Plus, Parker's smothering love for the holiday made for an interesting sub-conflict within the group, but it was never really explained in a way to make it worthy of our interest. Did she always have a lousy holiday as a child? Did Santa not give her a bike for Christmas, forcing her into a life of thievery? Did an elf kidnap her beloved childhood pet?
The scheme, however, really shined through the red and green haze that coated my screen. It was complex, but not so much that you had to put an ice pack on your head to keep your brain from overheating and it gave Chaos, played by the always entertaining Wil Wheaton, a chance to return to the villain role he plays so well. It was almost a shame to watch him get hauled off by the feds.
Dave Foley also rounded out the guest star roster as the owner of a fledgling mall who got sucked into a money-making scheme to save the business. Even if he didn't have as much room to work with, he even managed to drag out a few laughs particularly in the closing climax that tied together the Christmas theme with the Christmas scheme rather well.
The episode is far from becoming an endless Christmas classic, but it made for a nice distraction from the holiday stories we already have burned into our brains.