Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Converting Bad Cons to Good

Welcome back to Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday!  Today, Amber West and I continue reviewing the hit programs on TNT and USA.  Each network has a con and a medical story to tell, and we break them down in today’s special quadruple edition.   

Can a con-man change to good? 

TNT and USA think so!  Both networks have hit summer programs featuring some of the most likable con-men on television.  While each con might have to resort to their old ways in order to bring down an even worse foe, they all fight the good cause and do what’s best for mankind and to uphold the law. 

 Leverage – Sunday nights on TNT

The Leverage team consists of a group of criminals turned do-gooders that utilize their specialized skills to avenge those harmed by the wealthy and/or powerful.  Each character has his or her own flaw which helps the viewers understand their passion behind the individual cases they accept. 

Nate Ford (Academy Award winner, Timothy Hutton), “The Mastermind” – Nate leads this team of otherwise misfits.  He battles alcoholism trying to recover from the death of his son, which in turn cost him his marriage and his job as an insurance investigator.  Nate selects the team’s clients, and he uses his skills to anticipate the movement of the con’s marks while the rest of his team is in play.

Sophie (Gina Bellman, Coupling), “The Grifter” – Sophie is Nate’s right hand.  She has secrets that even the audience is still trying to figure out: is she royalty? Is she married? Or is she just a great actress? Well, maybe she’s not as great on stage as she is at playing the marks of the con.  And, what is her real name for crying out loud?

Now to the “side-kicks”, without whom, the show would not be the same.

Eliot (Christian Kane, Angel), “The Hitter” – Eliot has a bit of an anger-management problem: he loves to punch and kick, but he refrains from using guns as much as possible.  Eliot’s number one job is to protect the team; but, sometimes he takes on a character role that showcases his intelligence, and not just his muscle, in order to complete the con.

Hardison (Aldis Hodge, Friday Night Lights), “The Hacker” – Like one might assume, Hardison loves his computers, technology, and “Lucille,” his thoroughly pimped out techie van.  He has designed the team’s headquarters twice now (they had to blow the first office up to hide their identities), and the specialized equipment the team uses on each case. 

Parker (Beth Reisgraf, multiple TV appearances in shows like How I Met Your Mother and My Name is Earl), “The Thief” – Moving from foster home to foster home, Parker lacks many social skills, but might just have the biggest heart of all the cons.  One might think that Parker lacks empathy, but when she’s emotionally involved in a case, she’ll stop at nothing to take down the bad guys.  Parker is one of the best thieves around, and her supreme safe cracking skills and her extreme acrobatics make her crucial to every case.

The Leverage team gets it done, and I grant my second GTV (Gourmet TV) rating of the season: Leverage gives us everything we want and more.

White Collar – Tuesday nights on USA

Meet Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer, from Chuck and Tru Calling), a suave and sexy professional con-artist captured by FBI agent, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). 

Season one opens with Peter releasing Neal from prison under the strict supervision of an ankle monitor, AND one condition: Neal must use his criminal expertise to assist the White Collar division of the FBI in capturing bad guys. 

Neal enlists the help of his fellow con-man, Mozzie (Willie Garson, aka Stanford Blatch from Sex and the City), who despite his distrust of the government, stands by his friend’s side and builds his own relationship with Peter and Peter’s wife, Elizabeth (played by Tiffani Theissen, Saved by the Bell and the real 90210). 

In addition to solving a new FBI case each week, Neal focuses on discovering the truth behind his girlfriend Kate’s disappearance.  Neal continues his search while everyone, including Peter and his FBI right-hand Diana (Marsha Thomason from Vegas), investigates Kate’s story on their own, each hoping to bring closure to Neal’s heartache. 

White Collar builds fun and heartfelt character relationships: Peter/Neal, Peter/Elizabeth, Elizabeth/Neal, Elizabeth/Mozzie, Neal/Alex (another of Neal’s con-buddies played by Gloria Votsis), and Neal/Sara (insurance investigator/Neal’s current love interest played by Hilarie Burton). 

Season 2 ends with Neal’s previous mentor turned nemesis, Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy best known from his 80’s hits Pretty in Pink, and St. Elmo’s Fire) escaping once again after the U-Boat treasure that Neal and Peter helped reveal, goes up in flames. 

Or does it? Neal is a con, remember. 

Will Neal flee with Mozzie and claim their fortune? Or will he stay and continue his new life helping the FBI catch other cons?  He is a great asset for the Feds…and our television screens!

This has never been done before, but I grant White Collar another GTV (Gourmet TV) rating of the season: it has everything we want and more. 

That’s two in one post!

Did I mention that Neal is sexy?  Neal’s piercing baby blues and charming smile illuminate in combination with his dapper tailored suits and his Fedora hat. 

Do you agree with my double GTV ratings this week?  Are you a Leverage or White Collar fan?  Would Leverage be worthy of a GTV rating without Eliot, Hardison, and Parker?  Will Neal stay or will Peter have to arrest him yet again?  I’d love to hear from you!

Did someone call a doctor?

Now click over to Amber’s review of this summer’s medical programs: TNT’s HawthoRNe and USA’s Royal Pains.  What will she rate two of the networks biggest hits?

Come back next week for a special recap edition as Amber and I revisit our earlier Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews. What are we still watching?  Have our opinions changed? 

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our August and September schedule and would love to chat with you!

Last, but certainly not least, did your favorite TV shows make the Emmy nomination categories?  Vote here for the 1st annual Tamberny awards.  Leave a comment by July 29th and you could win blog linkage on my special Tele-Tuesday Siskel and Ebert style Emmy breakdown where Amber and I promise to not agree!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

 A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – SyFy TV

This week, Amber West and I switch things up yet again and review two of TV’s hot new science fiction dramas on TNT and SyFy.

Over the past few years, the SyFy network has rivaled the basic television channels with their original series such as Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Andromeda which all aired for at least five years each.

Today, SyFy has found new must-see television with series Being Human, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Haven, and Sanctuary, which is why when Alphas premiered July 11th, our household couldn’t resist checking it out.

Alphas follows five people who have super human abilities.  Together, they track and study other Alphas while also working with local law enforcement to ensure that other Alphas misusing their powers are sent to “The Compound” and kept off the streets. 

Dr. Lee Rosen – a non-Alpha played by Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Temple Grandin), leads the extraordinary team of Alphas, and uses his scientific research to better understand and control the Alpha population.

Each Alpha has a neurological difference providing them with an exceptional advantage over humans.

Would you like the strength to physically move a car blocking your path?

Meet Bill – a hyperadrenal-Alpha with super strength and training as a former FBI Agent, played by Malik Yoba (New York Undercover).  Bill reminds me of the Hulk, only he sweats profusely when his power is activated. 

Have you ever dreamed of pitching a perfect game?  What if you could master the art every time you stepped on the baseball mound? Or, what about the ability to toss a quarter into the vending machine change slot from ten feet away? 

Meet Cameron – a hyperkinesis-Alpha with perfect aim and motor skills, as well a history as an army sniper, played by Warren Christie (October Road).  Cameron appears vulnerable despite his physical stature.  He’s haunted by his failed marriage, and he misses his son desperately.

Would you like the ability to manipulate your way out of a speeding ticket by simply making eye contact with the traffic officer?

Meet Nina – an influencing-Alpha who manipulates others with her power of persuasion, played by Laura Mennell (Blood Ties and the motion picture, Watchmen).  Nina is absolutely beautiful, and she drives a new “borrowed” sports car in each episode. Now that’s what I call a super power! 

Have you ever wished that you could intercept the audio waves of a cell phone call so that you could hear the entire conversation taking place in front of you?  Or wish that you had the ability to read someone else’s text messages from a distance? 

Meet Gary – a transducing-Alpha or human antennae that can intercept any sound or radio wave, played by Ryan Cartwright (Bones).  Gary is always maneuvering his fingers through the air as he enjoys the different internet feeds, audio waves, etc.  He lacks a sense of humor, and the ability to lie.  I almost wonder if he has a form of autism.

Would you like the ability to eavesdrop on conversations taking place about you when you’re not around? How about the super power of microscopic vision?

Meet Rachel – a synesthete-Alpha, the most vulnerable of the Alphas with the ability to strengthen one of the five senses while leaving the other four useless, played by Azita Ghanizada (General Hospital: Night Shift).  Rachel’s powers are simply amazing, and she plays a large role in the investigations, yet she takes a back seat to her family.  Her current family drama surrounds their disagreement on arranged marriages. 

In the pilot, the Alphas help local law-enforcement officer Don Wilson (Callum Keith Rennie) solve the shooting of a federal prisoner locked inside a sealed interrogation room with no windows.  The investigation leads the team to the “The Ghost”, an Alpha with the power of persuasion via direct contact.  The extremist group known as “Red Flag” was also introduced as the main threat to the Alphas, and should return throughout the season as the Big Boss Trouble Maker.

The upcoming season promises to reveal more threats to the Alphas, and will test the Alphas loyalties to one another.

After only two episodes, I give Alphas the rating of SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out.  I was pleasantly surprised with the series start, and will definitely give a few more episodes a try before removing from my DVR.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why? What do you think about Alphas? Has SyFy found another hit series?  Does it remind you of Heroes?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now, click over to Amber’s review of TNT’s Falling Skies where Noah Wyle battles aliens and machines trying to protect our world’s children.  What are those spike things the aliens attach to the children’s spines?  YUCK! 

Come back next week for another quadruple special – Amber reviews the summer’s medical programs: TNT’s Hawthorne and USA’s Royal Pains, and I take on the summer cons: TNT’s Leverage and USA’s White Collar.   

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  Amber and I would love to chat with you!

Last, but certainly not least, did your favorite TV shows make the Emmy nomination categories?  Vote here for the 1st annual Tamberny awards.  Leave a comment by July 29th and you could win blog linkage on my special Tele-Tuesday Siskel and Ebert style Emmy breakdown where Amber and I promise to not agree!

 A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

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