Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Night TV: Keeping an Eye on "Newsroom" and "Leverage"

Sunday night continues to be the best TV watching around, even without "Once Upon a Time" and "Mad Men," which finished up their last seasons in May and June, respectively.

Tonight, you have a choice of the 2012 Teen Choice Awards, "The Bachelorette" final episode, new chapters of "Breaking Bad," "Falling Skies," "Political Animals" and "True Blood," or any number of options involving housewives, sharks, food, sex and comedy.

What else? How about "The Newsroom," at 9 pm Central on HBO? Its new episode is called "Amen," and it involves cranky anchor Will McAvoy and his dysfunctional gang of TV people hitting February, 20111, when Governor Walker created a firestorm in Wisconsin (with legislators fleeing the capitol and teachers and supporters occupying it) over the issue of public employees and their right to unionize, contrasted with the uprising in Egypt that toppled President Mubarak. Which story is more important in terms of how the newsroom apportions its resources and focus? Or are they really part of the same big picture of "political thuggery" and power grabbing?  I'm thinking Will & Co. will think Wisconsin is more important, so that everyone can learn a lesson about Ameri-centric thinking. Just a guess.

My other top pick for the night is the second episode of the new season of "Leverage" on TNT. Last week's season premiere brought the gang of con artists led by Timothy Hutton's Nathan Ford into contact with Howard Hughes's famous Spruce Goose, with guest star Cary Elwes as their mark.It wasn't my favorite episode ever, and the central conceit -- that they could fool Elwes's character into believing he was actually flying the plane when it was all smoke and mirrors -- was a little too far out there for credibility, but it still showcased the talents of this crack team of hustlers in an amusing and entertaining way, and it set up an intriguing mystery in the closing seconds. Is there a conspiracy happening within the team? If so, who's in and who's out?

As you can tell from the cards in the image above, the team includes five members with different skills. There's Hutton as Nate the Mastermind, Gina Bellman as Sophie the Grifter, Aldis Hodge as Hardison the hacker, Christian Kane as Eliot the Hitter, and Beth Riesgraf as Parker the Thief. One of the show's strengths is how it utilizes all five of them, playing them off each other, and I have high hopes they'll each get some focus in "The Blue Line Job," tonight's episode, which involves a hockey player the team is trying to help stay out of fights.

There's a picture floating around of Eliot, the team's muscle, in a hockey uniform, too, which gives you a hint of how he plays into the plot. Pun intended. Treat Williams is the guest star, but there's no clue yet whether he has something to do with the hockey storyline or the other one, about a mysterious person keeping a watchful eye on the group and their less-than-legal activities. You can watch a promo video here.

"The Blue Line Job" airs tonight at 7 central on TNT.

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