Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.
We'll get back to that in a minute.
The finale script is done. If you listen, you can hear Line Producer Paul Bernard weeping and screaming "unshootable!" in the distance.
And am I going to sleep now? No. Because of you people. Bastards.
This story was actually born from a freelance pitch we bought from Geoff Thorne (@dreamnasium on Twitter) last year. It was really kind of the perfect freelance pitch. High concept in an interesting location, strong character story, clean throughline. Geoff pitched us a couple episodes that day, and he made quite an impression. All of them were the same type of show: focused one one character, interesting villains, good conflict. Just three ideas, all very clean, in and out in ten minutes. I remember when he left, Chris Downey asked "Why the hell isn't he working on a show?"
Both our new staff writers were hired off freelance pitches. I have to say, if you're agented, the freelance pitch to a show you like is never a bad idea. Much better than the nebulous "God, I'm busy, why am I doing this?" general meeting with showrunners. Worst case is you make an impression on people who will go on to hire writers on that show or others. Best case is you prove to be someone who can solve their problem and fill a hole in their script development.
Assuming you don't suck. But, hey, that's beyond my ability to advise.
UG-99, the wheat blight, is of course real:
Indeed, 90 percent of the world’s wheat has little or no protection against the Ug99 race of P. graminis. If nothing is done to slow the pathogen, famines could soon become the norm — from the Red Sea to the Mongolian steppe — as Ug99 annihilates a crop that provides a third of our calories. China and India, the world’s biggest wheat consumers, will once again face the threat of mass starvation, especially among their rural poor. The situation will be particularly grim in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two nations that rely heavily on wheat for sustenance and are in no position to bear added woe. Their fragile governments may not be able to survive the onslaught of Ug99 and its attendant turmoil.
In one of those odd coincidences, Geoff had originally gone disease/biotech, and I'd pushed him toward the blight (I was reading The Windup Girl). We were actually in the middle of the blue revisions when the Wired article came out. We were struggling with the Evil Speech of Evil, and I tossed him the magazine. "That. She's explaining that." So thank you, Brendan Koerner, for some excellent science writing that boiled down complex raw information into a supervillain speech!
There was a comment somewhere on Twitter -- and no, I'm not going to hunt the hashtag for it -- where somebody did the standard "Companies don't kill people, it's bad for the bottom line." It also popped up in the comments for Balloon Juice's link to us. This is a.) adorable and b.) always tricky (and of course is a big factor in #305, "The Double-Blind Job") so I think worth discussing, since it informs the morality of the show.
Every villain we have -- every single one -- is based either on a real person or an amalgam of several. Every sin -- and that's the trick, by the way, don't write crime, write sin -- is based on a real case somewhere out there. Usually we're toning down the bad guy, if you can believe it. Sometimes we're ramping up, barely. But seeing as Dr. Hannity may be our most intentionally malevolent villain, let's take a moment.
Let's take the case of a corporation. (not all our shows are about big business, of course, but enough) Now, a corporation, we tend to think of them as monolithic, sentient beasts -- but they're a hive mind, made up of a thousand, if not a million little decision points. Somewhere in there is a guy with enough authority, either over the entire corporation or his little sovereign corner of it, to do something that has an effect on people out in the world. In our CrimeWorld, a couple things can happen:
-- The guy had no idea something bad was going to happen, there was no way of knowing something bad might happen, and he makes full restitution.
Hey, shit happens. This is a moral guy. A guy you let watch your kids.
-- The guy had no idea something bad was going to happen, there was no way of knowing something bad might happen, but decides to cover it up.
A little hazy. Not a good guy, but depending how far he goes, just human. If he were your friend, you might be pissed at him, you might not forgive him, but you'd probably understand him. Not really our cup of tea.
Now, let's slide the scale. Say you're the guy, you know if you do X, you can make your company millions. Employ lots of people, add value to your stock that's in a lot of citizens' pension plans. Keep costs down. This is both your moral and legal obligation to your shareholders, and your friends in the company, and your bosses.
But X might hurt a lot of people. Maybe 2% chance of it happening. Maybe people, will get hurt, but probably not.
Do you do it? Maybe not. But I think you'd agree with me that there's some guy out there who would. Many who would. Hell, put an unfenced pool in your backyard, you're that guy.
Now say it's a 30% chance people get hurt. You're still in "maybe people will get hurt". Do you do it? Hell, that was BP and the safety valves. Charitably, that was the West Virginian mine ignoring all those safety citations. Some guy out there would take that chance. Lots of guys.
Now it's a 51% chance. By a slim margin, the slimmest of margins, you're probably going to hurt people. Is there somebody out there who would do it? Of course. Now you're talking the peanut butter guys, or the company that advised their frozen foods be cooked to 160 degrees, when even their factory ovens couldn't get them that hot. (no link right now because it's 8am, and ... that one's probably actionable. Never mind.)
Now say it's a 60% chance. Would a reasonable -- a week, or greedy, but still reasonable -- person consider that "probably" hurt people, or "will" hurt people?
What's the difference between "probably" and "will"? For most people, a lot. That may be the line they don't cross. But, to paraphrase the Winston Churchill joke, once you move past 50%, we're just negotiating price. All we did with Dr. Hannity was slide the meter from 51% to 75, or 85, or 90%.
There's an interesting cultural side-note here. On, say, Criminal Minds, they usually chase serial killers. I very much doubt their boards and Twitter feeds are full of people bitching about how Criminal Minds misrepresents Caucasian men between the ages of 18 and 35. Because it is assumed that Criminal Minds is dealing with the deviants. All they do is slide the meter.
When we do our shows on Leverage, we are of course talking about the deviant bad apples who work in an industry. Assume we work under the exact same parameters as other crime shows, except, as Chris Downey said when we created the show, "Everybody else has serial killers covered. Let's chase some different guys."
This next bit's personal, but possibly illustrative --
You know what -- I'm going to do it as a separate post. You can skip it and go straight to the questions if you want to just live in Leverage-land.
As to the directing, well, let's just say that Dave Connell and Gary Camp carried my ass, and the actors went out of their way to work hard for me and do extra rehearsals. All I did was yell "Talk faster" and insist on lots of entrances and exits. Full credit to Hutton for coming up with the blocking for the kitchen scene.
Okay, questions. Only #303 for now, we'll do #304 in a separate post. Remember, this is me scrolling through and puking out answers as I hit the questions.
@Jeff: Steranko security? Brilliant. Whose idea was that?
Geoff Thorne, the writer. Jim Steranko, of course, was not just a hard-ass manly man comic writer and artist, but also an escape artist. That's meta three levels deep.
@Bev Zimmerman: What happened to Christian Kane's nose - he didn't duck, did he?
Stuff happens. What was fun about the solve was arriving at the band-aid. There was a moment, when we were considering make-up, when I thought "You know what? We're not going to explain it." This only reinforces something I cannot stress enough: you are not seeing all the Leverage cases. Other, interesting cons occur in between the ones we show you.
@M.A. Peel: Also love the nod to The Avengers in "Inside Job." Sophie as "M.A." Peel (great minds) and Hardison as Jonathon Steed. Commentary of sorts that no one said, hey, you guys have the same name as the Avengers? And Archie Leach? Nice to see Cary Grant isn't forgotten either. But he seemed more reminiscent of Fred Astaire in the tv It Takes a Thief.
We had a couple people say "Come on, those aliases were too easy! No way the corporate humans wouldn't have spotted them!" To which I reply, I assure you genially, "You are a person who writes to other strangers about television on the internet. You are not a good representative sample." The Avengers went off the air forty years ago.
You want to know where the cultural norm is now? We were having dinner with friends and their geeky, brilliant anime-obsessed 17 year old daughter. Super normal, super cool kid. And in the middle of our conversation about the latest scandal, she squinched her nose and asked "Um, what's a Mel Gibson?"
The Fred Astaire role on It Takes a Thief was definitely an inspiration for Archie, but of course most hipsters will realize we're referencing Cary Grant's real name.
@Jocelyn: One more thing about Kane, the scene when Parker and Eliot finally get into the lab and Eliot sort of sarcastically applauds Parker was that scripted or was that Kane ad libing a reaction?
It was scripted, but we never, ever in a million years expected that line read. Seriously, maybe my favorite thing Kane's done in three years.
@Caitlin: Oh, and is there any chance whatsoever we can see Archie Leech make a reappearance at some point? I absolutely fell in love with Richard Chamberlain in 3x03. P.S. Who's idea was the guy in the Sailor Moon costume? I loved it, that show was my first fandom.
Oh, we are so bringing Richard back. What a sweetheart. And Geoff came up with the Sailor Moon store.
@Nicole: 2) Was the "What's sexting?" line inspired by a real life moment or just your writer's being damn good at what they do?
Just writing. Late draft addition, if I remember.
@Stefan Jones: Why is TNT running double episodes? Why not spread them out so repeat season comes later in the summer?
As noted, to establish the beach-head on a new night. We're on single episodes for the rest of the summer.
@Bill: 1) What did Elliot do that makes him a criminal? I get the idea that he's a hitter and a retrieval expert, but it seems like most of what he did was retrieving things that were stolen in the first place. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that Nate would have ever chased. Speaking of which, will we ever get to see more of Nate as an insurance agent, maybe seeing how he met the rest of team instead of just Sophie?
2) I just caught the Pilot again during the week. Will we ever Saul Rubinek return? Or maybe another visit to Chicago? (Confession: I just moved to Chicago and I wanna watch you film an episode)
1.) He eventually drifted into retrieval He was trained to do ... other things. As to meeting Nate, sometimes they crossed paths when Eliot was hired to grab something IYS insured, sometimes they actually worked together. And you will see more of Nate as the insurance agent in an episode I just wrote, which will be slotted as, I think, #310.
2.) Saul lurks, waiting for his shot. He personally insists he will return leading a team of vengeful executives.
@Rick: Well done, Rogers! My "question" is from 3:03, and relates to the passcode to Parker's place. Since it is supposed to be Sophie's real name, and the only thing we're able to see is the last two button presses (2, and then # for code confirmation), is it safe to assume Sophie's real name ends with an A, B or C?
Okay, I should just end this cruelty now. On the day, Gina (who knows Sophie's real name, she picked it) asked "Should I actually type in her name?" I thought about the DVR fans out there and I said "Hell no."
You didn't think we'd make it that easy, did you?
@deanangst: Will we get to see the others homes now that we've seen Parkers? Somehow I imaging Eliot having an old stereo system with a turn table and a ton of old albums. I think he's be the type to prefer the warm sound of a needle on vinyl over a cd or mp3.
Eliot doesn't need a home, as he only sleeps 90 minutes a day. His home is justice, and he lays his head on a a pillow of righteous wrath.
@Siobhan: 303 (Inside Job) - Lots of stuff going on in this Ep. Great!! Questions:
1) Um. How did Eliot just commandeer a window-washing lift, without uniform/credentials/support from below? 2) How did he just magically show up where Parker needed him in this fairly impenetrable building? 3) How'd the whole team wind out on the window-washing platform for an awesome TNT-Friendly PR Photo-OP. Not complaining. Just wondering if you feel you need to bother explaining that one :).
1.) He bribed the guys. 2.) He came in through that window, and followed her straight out into the hall she'd entered from. 3.) Up the elevator shaft, back to the exec's office, and then down.
@Claire: What's up with the earbuds in 3.03? I get that it's inconvenient structurally to have the team turn them on and off, but particularly in this ep., are we really supposed to assume that Parker isn't overhearing all of Nate & Archie's arguments? As well as the rest of the team? Since you don't show reaction shots, I guess that's the intent but the earbud talk and she's gonna get killed moments were right on top of each other.
We've actually established that they can filter, but yes, Parker's actually hearing most of that. Doesn't change anything, as far as I can tell.
@Kady: When Nate gives Archie the earbud he says "make sure you give that back" (or something to that effect)...but we don't see Archie give it back. Was this intentional or am I grasping or did I miss it?
Nope, got it back O.S.
@Livlife: 1.) I'll say that the pace and feel of your episode felt different. More...aggressive, maybe? Could be that it immediately jumped into the action, rather than the slow setup of a mark, but it was great. It started out at a higher pace and held it until the very end. Deliberate? 2.) Also, in 3.03, it seemed like there were lots of definitions of what everyone does. "I'm a grifter, this is what I do." "This is what WE do" and many variations. Is that normal set up for anyone jumping in from this point? Or just random dialog that happened to collide in my brain? Or are you ramping up to something...? 3.) In 3.03, Christian made several references to not being able to pull it off and really not wanting to work in broad daylight. Since it was obvious they weren't abandoning Parker until nightfall, what was the point? Trying to make him the voice of reason? Show his lack of faith in Nate's leadership? It seemed...out of place.
1.) I tend to write hyper-aggressive first acts. That just bled into the directing. We're a pulp show. 2.) This ep was very much about identity, and family, and how you redefine yourself when you grow up. Unconscious theme juice. 3.) He's trying to be the voice of reason. All of them can calculate the odds. Eliot's the only one who pays attention to them.
@Tony: Why was the evacuation scene cut? You guys took out my one spoken line! :(- the extra who was talking with Rushing at the end of the evacuation scene
You were too awesome, and shamed us.
@Deborah: 1.) Are you going to be directing any other episodes? ... 2.) Whose idea was the slide kick that Eliot did to take out the guard? That was awesome. 3.) Another question I forgot to ask earlier, in the "Sailor Moon" flashback...was that the "Super Happy Power Go" music playing in the background?
1.) Probably one a year. 2.) Kane, once he saw the set. 3.) Wow, good ear. Yes.
@Ruben: Also, a question: did you or any of the other writers work on the Leverage RPG? After your work on the Manual of the Planes it seems like you'd be a shoe in for that RPG as well.
No, game design's a bitch, and those folks did a hell of a job on it. Way out of my league writing fluff.
Shit, I was supposed to write the forward, and totally spaced when the scripts got heavy. I literally just remembered that now. Shit.
@tvgcomic: 1.) You finally get Dean's wife in for an episode (doing a spectacular evil speech of evil) and it's the episode you direct! Did Dean not want to direct her?
2.) Do you think Parker is a savant of some sort? I mean, she has minimal social skills, lives a lean existence from the look of her home/lair, yet is brilliant when it comes to planning these things. As Sophie said, the plan was as clean as Nate's.
3.) Loved all the little details of her lair from Bunny, to the cereal boxes, to all the spoons (which didn't make sense until the sundae flashback)
1.) Honestly, I loved her in the web series Blank Slate, and had been looking for a part. Hannity was just perfect. 2.) She's ... focused. Savant is too strong a word, but I think she channels anxiety and aggression into precision and control. 3.) So glad we got the bunny. Geoff's idea, btw.
@Kris: And Dr. Hannity's Evil Speech of Evil was one of the best-delivered ever, I think. So self-assured, so... I almost want to use the word grand, given the scope of the plan. It almost had a science fiction feel (it was a lot better and more properly supervillainous than Luthor reviving his "real estate" scheme in Superman Returns, much as I liked that movie), but it didn't feel ridiculous or un-Leverage-y.
No question there, I just thought Lisa should see that.
@Calla: The only think I wasn't happy about was Richard Chamberlain clobbering the guy Eliot was fighting. Eliot gets to do so little, and yet every is alway encrouching on his territory - first Tara did it, then Parker did it, now Chamberlain's doing it. It just seems a bit disrespectful of Eliot's skills.
Well, I wanted to establish this guy wasn't just a dandy -- he was a threat. And I felt Eliot is so well-established, it's not like one lucky punch from some other characters occassionally undermines him.
@Katie: Why was it presented as such a kinda shocker for Parker to go back in for the virus-thingy (again, at work and couldn't watch)? She's found clients and asked for help for people in distress before, it seemed to be a deliberate point in the show so I was confused. Was it mostly to prove to Archie how much she'd grown as a person? Thanks bunches!
Parker's only ever brought in one client before, I think ("Juror No. 6 Job") and that was mostly to prove she was right. And yes, it was to show she's no longer who her "father" thought she was.
@Cameron: Twice now a season has started off or ended with Eliot being upset that a member of the team pulled a con on them. I don't really want to ask for spoilers, but is the reason it was repeated because it will play into a future storyline for Eliot, or was it just for continuity?
Eliot has principles. Principles he arrived at after a long, difficult time. They are deeply held, and it's good to remind the other team members of that. Particularly when we do the December two-parter ...
@Charlie: 1.) Seriously, nobody at that company watched The Avengers and didn't see right through their disguises, i'm not complaining, but damn. 2.) Does the blight that Dr. Hanninity actually exist, if so, that is seriously screwed up. I was completely shocked at that plot twist.
Hah! See above, Charlie.
@Stephanie D: Since we know that Nate lives above the office, and we've now seen Parker's place, will we get to see where the others live?
When a good story demands it.
@Whims: Having rewatched the first two episodes before last night's two I was wondering 1) Does the team know that Nate was shot at the end of the season? 2) Would Sophie tell Nate if he guessed her name correctly? Cuz I'm thinking guessing correctly is not the same as earning.
1.) yes, they stayed in touch when he was in prison. 2.) Correct. Earn, not guess.
@Jess pyes: Christian kanes fight scenes are immense but Elliot never seems to get hurt, he never seems to be sporting an injury is there gonna be a fight.coming up where we can see just how brutal it can be on Elliot
You may be new -- go back and watch "The First David Job" from S1, and "The Top Hat Job" from S2. Also why I decided to go with the bandage in mine.
@Anna: 1. Okay, I'm gonna fangirl and ask: are you intentionally trying incite a ship war? In both eps, you've got like, what, every fanfic-inducing combo being hinted at? Parker/Eliot, Parker/Hardison, Parker/Nate, Sophie/Nate, etc. But I have to ask - where's my OTP of Sterling/Nate (only half-teasing here)? 2. Is that Steranko retinal scanner solution based on anything in reality? If so, cool. 3. Did no one at Wakefield watch The Avengers? 4. Was the metronome (is that what they're called? the ticking thing?) that Nate set off while he was talking to Sophie about Hardison-as-hypnotized-violinist part of the hypnosis process? 5. Richard Chamberlain seemed to slot so well into the show; it was like he was born to be part of the Leverage universe. Any picks on other actors you'd like to join up? 6. And finally, is there some explicit rule against the crew taking on outside jobs or is it just some unspoken courtesy thing? Sophie seemed really upset when she found out Parker had gone off on her own. How much of that was worry? If Parker had been able to pull it off, would there have been the same level of emotion?
1.) You're closer shipping me and Mark Sheppard. 2.) Variants exist. 3.) Rushing's assistant did (see the eye move at the act break?). But she thought Hardison was dreamy, and let it slide. 4.) whoops, that's 304, but yes. 5.) We got pretty much all of them this year, assuming we get the Moreau we want. 6.) outside jobs expose the crew without their say-so. You don't take outside jobs.
@Anonymous: Was that Beth or a stand in doing the excellent gymnastic move out of the vent? Either way, this was Beth's best episode ever - she got to be funny and poignant and nailed both parts.
Stand-in for that one. lovely young woman.
@Murphy: Is Nate is ever going to lose a con? Not fake-lose-to-trick-the-mark-then-turn-right-around-and-win-the-whole-thing, but actually really lose. Not that I want Nate to lose, but I think it would be interesting to see it happen, and to see how he and the team react.
A ridiculous number of our episodes have the team's first con going honest-to-goodness tits up, and the second half is a recovery. I'd say he pulled off an escape, but not a successful con, in "The First David Job", and "The Three Strikes Job", at least.
@Anonymous: Just wondering, not that I want to think about the end of the show, but do you have a plan for the final episode? Like, JK Rowling knew what the last chapter of the Harry Potter series was going to be, before she knew what the third book was going to be. Do you have a plan in mind for the series finale?
I know what the last scene of the show is. I don't know how we get there exactly.
@Ircutter: 1) Since Sophie has "found" herself, and become more comfortable with who she is, will she give up acting? Or at least realize that she's a terrible actor when not in a con? 2) I'm sure you're familiar with Lester Dent, and his essay on what a pulp fiction plot should contain. (http://altuspress.com/lesterdentproperties/the-master-fiction-plot/) Episode 3.03 seemed to follow this formula more than the others -- did you have it in mind when you were directing?
1.) It's on a backburner, after her epiphany in "The Fairy Godparents Job". Kind of interesting to see what happens when she tries it again now, though, eh? 2.) Shhh. That is not at all posted on the wall of the writers' room.
@kyouell: I've searched the blog (and searching seems to be a tad wonky today, thank you Chrome) and cannot find the meaning of the phrase "ledger or orange box" -- could you clarify or someone else point me in the right direction?
Take it away, @jarodrussel: "Orange Box" is a reference to "The Mile-High Job," which is an odd fact the writing team uses that turns out to be true, such as: the jet plane's black box is actually orange so it can be found easier after a crash. "Ledger", which I assume is the Ledger Drop Box, is a reference to "The Bank Shot Job," which is an odd fact the writing team uses that is not true, they made it up. Such as: before computers were used, banks used to have drop boxes in side alleys because businesses would turn in their ledgers with deposits.
There's an additional context to both: an "Orange Box" tends to be some odd fact we know is true but that the audience will not believe, while "Ledger" is usually some egregious bit of bullshit we've cooked up that is startlingly plausible, and accepted by our audience without question.
@Sean Hansen: This isn't about the episodes but about the show in general: a) is TNT trying to kill you by making the finales/premieres closer together each year and b) how do you feel about having 16 episodes a year compared to 13? Too much or just enough?
a.) Yes. They are trying to kill me. Although this year went pretty smoothly, to tell the truth. b.) I'm absolutely flattered and gratified that the network shows such faith in us by giving us more valuable prime time real estate every year. ON a creative note, I think we are on the upper edge of sustainability. Let's put it this way -- I think a con/heist show as a finite number of good episodes in the premise. it's up to the network to see how fast we get there.
@Michael: I have an extremely important question over here that kinda goes back all the way to the Bank Shot Job: Given that Hardison is a fan of the Doctor, what are his thoughts on the new one? Is he a die-hard David Tennant-fan (like some people I know) or does he recognise the pure genius of Mr Moffat and also of Matt Smith? also, does he have a quite strong fascination with Amy Pond? (well who doesn't)
He's an Eccleston fan and kind of likes Matt Smith because of the Troughton similarities. And Amy Pond, well ... Rose who?
@Anonymous: During "The Inside Job", after Parker refuses to leave with Eliot, I assume he got into the building by breaking the window. Was his sudden appearance intended to be a surprise all along, or was the gag created because someone said "we're filming in a real office building, and we can't afford to break one of the windows"?
It was the intended gag. This was the moment, btw, where Geoff said "So, basically, Eliot and Parker are Wolverine and Kitty."
@Anonymous: Really not a question, but do you get bored reading the same questions over and over again, and do you get annoyed that people don't read to see if their questions are already there?
They also serve who only stand and wait.
@Rawles: 2) In The Inside Job, was Alec calling Parker "mama" over the comms in the script or something that Aldis adlibbed?
@dodzsky: did the shooting cost expensive?
Nope, we're at a bog-standard cable $2 million an episode.
@Calla: Good job on your direction of 303 - I really loved how the episode began and unfolded - it was a good pace and a good tone. With so many drinkers on the set (fictional and otherwise), I'd like to know: Who would win in these drinking contests:
1) John Rogers vs Christian Kane
2) John Rogers vs Nate Ford
3) Eliot Spencer vs Nate Ford
4) Christian Kane vs Eliot Spencer
1.) Kane, although we've never done him on tequila and me on scotch. Shooting the pilot, he handed me my ass with a bottle of Padrone.
2.) Oh, me. I handle my booze better than Nate.
3.) Define "win".
@razormuse: I totally get the fact that Eliot is a hitter..but if the dude doesn't get to hook up with some lass soon, he's gonna bust a vein. He seems a lot more angry in the new episodes.
Angry Eliot is fun Eliot. And he is hooking up, just off-screen. Although this week ...
@Anonymous: RE: Glasses on Eliot Are the glasses strictly a prop for the character, or does CK wear contacts, and occasionally glasses? (Maybe to avoid eye injury during Whoop-Ass Sessions?)
@Maya: Now on to a question. How come Sophie is no longer part of the client meetings with Nate? Is there a specific reason for that? I can live with it but Nate said last season that it's something he does with Sophie.
She is in some, but a.) we're showing how the other characters are more Nate's peers, and why he needs them -- which tends to be specific realms of knowledge. b.) We're using those scenes to set up the character conflicts now, as opposed to waiting for the traditional second or third scene in the HQ. Style change. more aggressive.
@Anonymous: My question is this. How old are Parker, Eliot and Hardison meant to be? Back in S1 we heard that Aimee hadnt seen Eliot since he last left 8 years before (putting him in his mid 20's), Hardison hadn't played the violin since he was 14 - and that was 10 years ago (making him 24) and there was something in 303 about Parker suggesting that she was around the same age. Now, much as i love the actors (especially CK) i don't really think any of them can pass as early/mid 20's
Answered in the Comments, but I'll call it out here. Aldis Hodge is, of course, turning 24 this year. We hired him on the night of his 21st birthday. (Go back and look at the pilot. So young!). Aimee meant she hadn't seen Eliot since the last time he'd been home. He's early 30's. Parker is mid 20's, late 20's by the time the show goes off the air.
@Regan: 1) It was cute to have the password to Parker's home be Sophie's real name, but does it really make sense that she'd choose the one password Nate wouldn't be able to break? Was that intentional? 2) At the end of 303, Archie demands that Dr. Hannity double his money for the job. I thought he was doing this unpaid to keep his family safe?
1.) Both "yes" and "assuming Sophie was telling the truth." 2.) They'd had a fee, despite his blackmail. Allowed him to distract her from the con. Cut in the edit.
@David: Are any members of the writer's room devout watchers of 'Mythbusters', and if so, are there ever any arguments whether to continue to use the standard tropes of spy/burglar shows (like visible laser sensors / silent ductwork crawling), even though the Mythbusters proved them to be a bunch of Hollywood hooey?
If by "devout watchers of Mythbusters" you mean "did your showrunner stand on the table and do the full Kirk 'Khaaaannn' when he found that Kari Byron had borne another's child?" then yes.
In the Leverage-verse, lasers are visible, and ductwork is highly regulated. Although we did add the spray reveal in #303.
I'd just say my job is to entertain you for an hour. You say "trope" I say "time-honed tool."
@Jonathan Polin: Is the production team at all fans of "Hustle"? I know Timothy Hutton guested in it pre-Leverage, but is it one of the sources from which you draw inspiration? If not, do you like it anyway as a somewhat similar series? (Crossover possibility...?)
Like Jonathan Creek, it's one of those shows you know about if you write in the genre. I dug the first season, but it's not really all that similar. They tend to do very small, fine grain cons, only one per episode. They have no clients, they do it only for themselves, they have no explosions, no redemption arc ... they're in the same genre, but they're not a similar show. We're Rockford Files, It Takes a Thief and Mission:Impossible.
I'd say the bigger influence on the show, stylistically, was the British Life on Mars.
@Nicole: Sliding in for one more thought - Tis the season for San Diego ComiCon, and all sorts of shows you wouldn't have pegged for a massive geek convention (like, say, White Collar) are going to be there. I realize that you guys are in production and everyone is probably super busy, but will you ever carve out time to make a showing there in the future?
We may be there this year. Stay tuned.
@Rebecca: I know you've mentioned that "answering the e-mails" has become a standard joke in the writers room, but have there been many - or even any - things that the writers are surprised (and glad) that the viewers haven't noticed? Of course, if the answer to that is yes, you are required to provide at least one example. :)
... then "no."
@R. Earl Grant: 1.) Now that you've directed (and I'd argue that The Inside Job was the best action oriented episode, great work), are there any lessons from that experience that will change your writing? 2.) How did Gina Bellman get cast? I know her as Jane Christie from BBC's Coupling. I found Leverage when I saw her in the ads and couldn't wait to see her regularly again. In my own Leverage universe, I imagine that Jane grew into Sophie... The line in the Jailhouse Job about what kind of world would it be if every criminal went to prison is the kind of line I'd attribute to Jane.
I learned the lesson much earlier: "Always have a clear, simple intention for each line." A goddam human has to say this, and guessing at your goddam nuance is useless. At least they can start with the intention, and then bring the magic.
Also, I'm much more obsessive about how many people are in a scene. Painfully aware of how hard it is to shoot coverage.
2.) Gina was hired off Jekyll, of all things. Go search the "leverage" tag, the story's in there somewhere. That line read was a little Jane-y, eh?
@zenkitty: 1.) Did Parker overhear the conversations between Nate and Archie about her? They all still had earbuds in. 2.) Technical questions on "Inside Job": What Hardison did with the cable in the wall - that isn't really possible, is it? At least not just by sticking a cable in a wall? And Parker saying the code wasn't ASCII, it was a shell code - what the heck did that mean? 3.) Backing up to 3.01: When Nate digs the earbud out of the kielbasa and sticks it in his ear (eww) Hardison was right there listening. How come Hardison had an earbud in while playing with his toy helicopter? (Those earbuds must bounce off satellites, because they have a truly unbelievable range. Not that I mind.) 4.) In "Inside Job" when Hardison and Eliot come skidding into Parker's "bedroom", where did they come from? They acted like they hadn't seen Nate and Sophie standing there, but it's a big room.
1.) No, I think they would've dumped that conversation. 2.) There's a process that works,. but it's boring and long. Assume we shortened it to something cool. The ASCII vs. Shell were encryption types. 3.) They are indeed bounced off satellites. And Hardison does indeed wear his all day. He's weird that way. 4.) Same door, but the glare had blinded them to the details.
@SueN: Just watched "Inside Job" again and noticed Parker's ID tag in her cubicle. Beck. So Dr. Hannity, Mr. RUSHing and Beck. Y'all hit the trifecta, huh?
Love to take credit, but it was just a precleared name badge off the prop truck. It's actually really hard to do name gags because of clearance issues.
@Dawn/Stl-MO: With Kari Matchett on USA’s new ‘Covert Affairs’, will you be able to get her this season?
This is the suck, but no.
@annearchy: Great work on 3x03. My burning question regards Parker during her time as Archie's junior apprentice. He told Nate, "My family thinks I'm an accountant." So Archie must have explained his frequent absences for purposes of thievery as "business trips". Presumably Parker was somewhere on her own, stealing to take care of herself. She couldn't possibly have lived WITH Archie and his family. Since we found out in 3x03 that she currently lives in a warehouse, and she mentioned in 3x02 that she was sort of glad she never went to high school, can we assume she was living in "unofficial" quarters (abandoned bldgs, empty stores, etc.)?
That's not the first warehouse she's lived in.
@Sammie323: Just an observation: We don't know any of the female characters' real names -- Parker, Sophie and The Italian -- while the male characters are using their real names. Is that intentional or just part of the "finding identity" theme?
Huh. Well, The Italian is a shout-out to 60's spy archtypes. Parker really has no other name than "Parker". It's no an alias. For all intents and purposes, that's her real name. But interesting...
@Michael Bourgon: John, I haven't watched these two yet, but it seemed like the Big Bad is in another country. Can it be Freedonia? Pleeeeease? Can they have their own Aeronautics and Space Administration? Surely as a man who plays Shadowrun, you can appreciate the request.
It's actually, courtesy writer Scott Veach, "San Lorenzo". Go hunt that one up.
@Nina-May: Actually, that reminds me of another question: what was the scripted order of the episodes? People keep talking about the numbers, but I haven't been able to get the exact timeline. The reason I ask is because it goes to Nate's relationship with the team; if Inside Job is intended to come after Scheherazade, then that puts a different slant on the rescue and Nate's actions, as he tries to establish where the boundaries of team (push them unethically if necessary) and family (die for them, never give up on them, etc) lie, and which is more important. Some remorse in play, perhaps?
They actually interchange regardless. Nate would not find being a manipulative sonovabitch contradictory to loving someone enough to die for them.
It'll become clearer when you meet his father ...
@evening_shadow: 2. Everything in Parker's apartment is rather stark except for the red cereal bowls and what looked like colorful glass paperweights, seen briefly behind Nate in a glass case. Do the paperweights have special significance or does Parker (i.e. set design) just think they look pretty?
Just pretty. Wait until you see her Christmas ornaments...
@Barbara: Just rewatched 303 again...who pulls them up thru the elevator hatch? He/she didn't appear to be dressed like anyone in the window washing scaffold scene that immediately followed.
It's Hardison - - he and Sophie got on first. That got a bit choppy in the edit,that may be our bad.
@Anonymous: 1) Does Hardison keep an eye out on the Intarwebs for previous baddies to make sure they don't get out of [jail, Tartarus, what have you] and seek revenge [exposing the crew, holding someone hostage, etc]? 2) Will we ever see a revenge episode with anyone besides Chaos? 3) Could it please please be Dr. Hannity? That woman looks like she'd defy death to stick it to Leach and/or the crew (Sophie).
1.) Yes, a big (underappreciated) part of his job is running 21st Century interference for them. We touched on that in "The Juror No. 6 job". 2.) Yes. 3.) We'll see.
@mjdoice: My boyfriend wants to know if the "ELD" in the pan shot as we were going to the roof of the building was designed to be the same font as the cover of Jim Steranko's "Nick Fury: Agent of Shield" (http://forum.valinor.com.br/attachment.php?attachmentid=17796&stc=1&d=1210696579)? The font was exactly the same, just wondering if it was deliberate? And thanks for the homage to him!
A great bonus joke by our visual effects department. I didn't spot it until the first screening.
@Anonymous:Watching the mini marathon tonight, I got caught up with the question, How did Parker call Hardison in the Wakefield building? Her phone says signal jammed, so his should be too.
Not going to beat commenter @maverickkid: "Just a thought. The steranko had isolated the intruder (Parker) on the upper levels of the building. It knew she was somewhere in that section of floors. So I believe it wasn't locking anything else down or jamming cell phones on any other floors. There was no need. So Hardison's phone would not have been jammed. How's that for deductive reasoning? ."
My question: Sophie & Eliot have both had moments with Nate where they make it abundantly clear that he went too far in the Three Strikes Job/Maltese Falcon Job. Will Parker and/or Hardison do the same? I don't really count Hardison's "I'm not talking to you right now" bit when Nate first put his earbud in during the Jailhouse Job. Nate was (and is) a donkey's rear sometimes, though, and he needs to be called on it.
Parker worked it out -- well, more like her weird emotional landscape buried it. For Hardison, you can definitely see traces of the resentment in #310, and new peer relationship in the rest of the season.
@thomas: 1.) Did you know that you were going to be directing Richard Chamberlain before you got tapped for the gig or did you get that sprung on you after you agreed to do it 2.) Also, was there any trepidation on your part as a first time director, directing an actor with Richard Chamberlain's legacy of work. 3.) Finally, did any of the cast decide to have a little fun at your expense as a first time director? Intentionally saying lines from the wrong scene, "forgetting" a character's name and saying the actor's name instead, etc.
1.) Richard signed on while I was prepping. My response was, I believe "Holy shit!". 2.) No trepidation, if anything, he was so sweet, and so prepped, he made me relax. 3.) No, they fear me.
@JoJoDancer: Hardison and Parker have the slowest boiling relationship I've ever seen on television ... . Are we going to see anything else from these kids this season?
Well, "Double Blind" gave you a little something. And there is a moment in the finale ...
@Scott Flowers: At the start of The Jailhouse Job (301), you didn't use any colorizing tricks to set apart Sophie's prison breakout fantasy because you were trying to fool the audience into thinking the team really was breaking Nate. I get that. ... During Eliot's fight scene with his Israeli counterpart from the 2 Live Crew Job (207), an old film look was used... But then during The Scheherazade Job (304) you employed the sound and color scheme usually reserved for flashbacks during Nate's fantasy scene ... Is this the director's discretion? If not, how has this been discussed amongst your production staff? I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
It's done during post, and always in discussion with the director. I knew I wanted "Jailhouse" to be a head fake. "Two Live's" filmlook was a brilliant idea by our VFX head Mark Franco. It's very subjective. Sometimes the type of flashback filter changes depending onthe length of the flashback, just to what feels right and watchable. We've definitely fone a little crisper and bluer this year in them.
All right, time for a shower, and off to set to watch them shoot the ungodly bastard of a script I dropped on them two weeks ago. As soon as I get some sleep -- on to #304!
As always, thanks for your time and attention.