In the spirit of Mission: Impossible, each episode revolves around a different job, and though producer/director Dean Devlin (Independence Day) shot the pilot in Chicago, Leverage Consulting sets up shop in L.A., where the rest of the series takes place. Hardly original--even the jazz-funk score sounds familiar--it's still a breezy lark that moves easily between drama and comedy, and the flashbacks to the team's past are a fun touch. During their inaugural year, they represent clients ranging from a wounded reservist to Nate's pastor (D.B. Sweeney). Other notable guests include Buffy's Danny Strong as a conscience-free contractor and Popular's Sara Rue as an endangered whistleblower. All the while, the hard-drinking Nate's attraction to the increasingly alarmed Sophie grows at the same rate as his alcohol consumption (Alec also develops a crush on the oblivious Parker).
Despite Hutton's Oscar credentials and top billing, 21-year-old Hodge often steals the show with his hilarious line readings and the deleted scenes reveal some equally amusing adlibs. Other extras include five featurettes and commentary on the 13 episodes from Devlin, creators John Rogers and Chris Downey plus key writers and directors, like Tony Bill (My Bodyguard) and Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation), who directs Trek veterans Brent "Data" Spiner and Armin “Quark” Shimerman in "The Juror #6 Job." In response to strong ratings, TNT renewed Leverage for a second season. --Kathleen C. Fennessy