Saturday, September 15, 2012

LEVERAGE #505 "The 'Gimme a K' Street Job" Post-Game

* (As always, I would urge you to download the accompanying Leverage10 podcast to hear deeper discussion with the actual writer of this episode.)* 

Every year the writers come in with three or four ideas for episodes.  Jeremy Bernstein (@fajitas) led with two crime-y ones, and then said "Also, cheerleading."

We'd joked about it before.  The auditorium we scouted for another episode was hosting a cheerleading competition at the time, and of course all the guys said "Cheerleading episode!!" Har-de-har.  So at first I thought he was joking.

Then he laid out the stats, and all I kept saying was "Jesus Murphy."  And then he laid out the reason for the stats, and Downey and I said "That is ... actual villainy."  To be fair, I'll admit I was still a little dubious about whether we could make the episode work, so we had Jer present the info to the writer's room.

It was the angriest I've seen the room since Season Two.

Going much further into backstory will take us the closest to "actionable" we've come in  a while, so let's just say there are several companies which indeed practice the business model -- by which I mean wide-scale, boggling efficient grift -- we detail in the episode.  A hundred-something national championships.  Force you to buy insurance that's never paid out.  Fighting efforts to increase safety standards, because better safety standards would interfere with their ability to license and profit off cheerleading camps, etc, etc.  Pretty girls in wheelchairs because of some assholes in suits.  Using the real world model, we went to work.

We've mentioned before, but every con we do could in theory be used to pull apart the real-world equivalent of the mark.  This is one of the reason we have consultants like Apollo Robbins, or sometimes talk to high-level campaign finance experts or US Attorneys.  Fiction, where you can bend and twist the rules, is made enormously easier when you force yourself to play by the rules as you break the story.  This is a personal issue I have with some con and heist shows.  Two lifts and a fake name don't make a con show, they make a particularly aggressive Rockford Files.  Of course, this is probably more about my obsession with systems than it is about the bare minimum requirement for audience entertainment.

There was one truly odd moment, after three days of trying to break this thing, where I said: "Jesus, we've pulled corrupt money-laundering apart, international cyber-cons, kleptocratic hustles -- and we cannot break this fucking cheerleading scam.  The real version of it is just too ironclad."

Downey:  "This web of companies looks like a mob breakdown on The Sopranos."

Me: "Okay, so how do you bring down the mob?"

Downey (who, you will remember, is a former white collar defense attorney): "RICO Act.  It's ridiculously broad."

That's how a cut-down version of the RICO Act wound up on the writer's room wall.  The key, of course, being that you need to commit TWO acts of racketeering activity.  So while half the room banged various combos of offenses off the walls ("Kidnapping and criminal copyright infringement?"), we tackled the other big problem --

-- we can't write a cheerleading episode.

By which I mean, it obeys none of the structural parameters which allow us to make Leverage on a weekly basis.  There aren't really enough "hats" for the characters in cheerleading. Coach, cheerleader, maybe judge ... there's no inherent threat of violence or prosecution or meddling law enforcement.  What's the real-time (used to be fourth) fifth Act sequence as we tempo up heading into the back of the show?

Again, back tot he research.  Jeremy had talked to several groups who were trying to change the cheerleading rules, primarily by trying to get it declared as a sport, where Title IX safety rules would kick in.  These groups' primary frustration was in the politics of the situation -- which for once fell on both sides of the aisle.  Generalizing roughly,  Conservatives didn't want to establish that sort of excess regulation, Liberals didn't want Title IX money being diverted to cheerleading from other women's sports. Few friends on either side.

Well, there you go.  Despite assumptions by some of our viewers, we try to stay very even-handed on the political spectrum on the few times we venture into politics.  My policy is alway that the primary split in politics is along the money/power axis, and there are plenty of R's and D's chasing both.  We'd never done a Congressional episode, and Congress is a lovely, complicated, antiquated ramshackle system all based in a one big, swinging doors-French farce worthy building. Aces.  We came up with some prototypical Congresspeople, assigned unlikely humans to deal with them, and turned loose the Fun Train.

I will note that Parker wound up with the cheerleaders for three main reasons. 1.) We didn't want everyone on the grift. 2.) "LASER GRID" 3.) The interrogation scene.  The noir interrogation scene of the cheerleader was originally a longer bit, and we laughed ourselves silly at the prospect.  Sometimes, it really is the simple things in life ...

Okay, let's see what you maniacs have for us this week:

@Miranda: When the folks in the audience held up the "Badgers" sign, was that to support the cheer squad from Larry Duberman's alma mater or a different school with the same mascot?

Same school!  Small world, eh?

@PurpleOps: 1. How did Hardison introduce HR505 in the first place? Was he already working in the Congresswoman's office?

2. It seemed pretty obvious that the team, at least Nate and Eliot, was "made" in the hearing scene, yet they were more interested in Bisutti's facial expression than that fact. Was the audience supposed to be ahead of the team, was it intentional misdirection, or... something else?
3. Nate thinks he has "no weaknesses"? SERIOUSLY?? Even after the episode in a previous season where he had to con someone as if he were conning himself? I'd thought his self-awareness was improving, but that seems a dangerous gap for him to have.
4. In one of the scenes between Nate and Eliot in Congress, Kane had a hair sticking out on his right side. Was there a point to it? (Pun intended!)
5. Parker's "All AAH" and Eliot's wink to Hardison - hilarious!
6. Nice tip of the fedora to Indiana Jones - "Corn subsidies! Why did it have to be corn subsidies?"
7. Loved "War & Peace with math", the "Ready... ready... let's go" duality, and "Fort Devereaux".
8. "Bring it on!" Seriously? Or did you feel it was expected and you HAD to use it? :)
9. I'm gonna keep on praising LoDuca until (and after) you put out another Leverage soundtrack album. STELLAR work on the "casing lasers" scene and the "Let's grift" walk, among others (the Middle Eastern bit was another good one).

1.) It was already introduced and hearings being held -- the first hearing we see.
2.) No, they weren't "made", Bisutti was distracted -- she may have seen them but not registered them.  The moment was there for Nate to make the connection that her mood and intention didn't seem to match.
3.) Oh God, no, that was two guys bluffing each other out.  Think of it as "Well, I've never had trouble in bed..." and you'll get it.  Nate and Eliot are yanking each others chains a bit.
4.) Nope.
... 8.) Kind of mandatory, no? By the way, Bring It On is a tightly plotted little movie.
9.) We will never be able to thank Joe LoDuca enough.  Let me talk to Dean about another soundtrack, if only a downloadable one.

@Anonymous: PEP HQ was the Boston federal courthouse, right? You had lots of DC exterior shots -- if I'm right about the HQ, why a Boston shot for that one? .

It seemed the mst super-villainous out fo the shots we pulled from stock.  Location had nothing to do with that one.

@ChelseaNH: How much of this was "must. suppress. gag. reflex" and how much of this was "bloviating is fun!"? Did you make all the writers give stump speeches? I was particularly impressed with the "as someone who once did something vaguely related, I'm going to pretend that I am now an expert on this subject" trope

Bloviating is FUN!  Basically, we did look at some political speeches.  After marvelling at their vagueness, we cut and pasted.

1. Was any of the Pep stuff inspired by/based on CrossFit? 
2. By any chance was Sophie's assistant "Ginger" a shoutout to The West Wing?

1.) Nope, all based on the actual cheerleading world.  Although it does seem like the fitness world is rife with grift.
2.) Considering @fajitas's love of West Wing, I'd say that's a definite yes.

@Vanessa: Is it my imagination, or has the act-break structure changed? It seems like the acts are shorter & there's 6 instead of 5.

Nope, we're at six, ever since Season 4.  Six.  Gah.  We all hate it.  Every showrunner who works in it hates it. But that's episodic TV for you right now.

@LindaS: Need to know, John: was the cheer team named the Wolves as an homage to the "Eliot signal" from the end of season four ("either a wolf or a knife")?

Nope, but that is cool.

@Ruben: Loving the entire season so far and thank you for setting it in Portland. I have but two quick questions.
1. I'm starting a Leverage RPG set in Portland (hometown is easy). Just so I can line my game up with show cannon, can I assume that the team eventually leaves Portland with some marks?
2. Please tell me that you've partnered with Bridgeport to make Thief Juice.

1.) You can assume ... Portland is not permanent.
2.) Sadly, no.  But feel free to brew it yourself!

1.) Since everything seems to be going so well for Parker & Hardison (not perfect, but honestly not bad at all), would Eliot ever play a joke on Hardison and let Hardison believe there was something going on between Parker & Eliot? If, say, Hardison misunderstood something saw or over-heard and, instead of clearing things up, Eliot just let Hardison's imagination run amok for a bit. Just to tease him, because Eliot does need to get Hardison back for eating his special hand-crafted sandwich last season.
2.) this was another ep directed by Frakes. How many did he get to direct this season?

1.) Nope.  He's not that kind of guy.
2.) I think he has four this year.

@thebacardiqueen: Fantastic episode - loved it as per usual! My question...that look Eliot gave the retreating Nate at the very end...Eliot has guessed something's up, right? Do we see more of that during the rest of the season and if so, does it impact the relationship between the two of them...we know he'd do anything for Nate but is there a line, even for him?

Eliot is taking a "wait and see" attitude.  But don't assume that some of the events of this season you DON'T see won't be revealed in the season finale.

@john:The stats given at the beginning, something like 3% of all female sports participants are in cheer, but 65% of the injuries are in cheer - are those accurate?? Crazy if that's real.

Jeremy steps you through the numbers in the podcast, but yeah, pretty much.

@oppyu: 1) Is there an in-universe reason that Leverage Inc. doesn't keep a few more people around? Parker's grown as a grifter over the years, but the crew would still run more smoothly if they had Tara around as a part-time secondary grifter, or if they hired that Apollo guy from the Two Live Crew job to back up as a thief when Parker's out of position. Hardison is also growing more versatile, but a thief he ain't (the Truffle and Potato jobs come to mind). 
2) This season seems a lot like it's setting up as a finale... please reassure me that this is not the case :(
3) Does Nate REALLY believe he has no weaknesses? It seems like an inordinate amount of time in this series has been devoted to meticulously identifying and describing the many ways Nate Ford is... not the most healthy man. 
4) Did Hardison get a cheerleading company classified as a haberdashery? If so, how?

1.) Crews tend to be very insular, and most conmen are very averse to working one con or town for any length of time.  Assume those folks are on call.  Hell, I'd love to see more of them if the actual humans attached to those characters weren't so damned busy.
2.) We write every season so if it's the last one, you are satisfied if not happy.  That said, We are ramping up to a much more definite "Well, this COULD be it" finale.
3.) Addressed above.
4.) Part of the cheerleading company's business is providing all the official uniforms (and you MUST wear the official uniforms to compete) for the industry.  This is based on a real element of the real-world grift.

@Jugglernaut:  I enjoyed this ep a lot but thought Parking going all after-school special was a bit much. Too mainstream. New Parker is not as interesting as Classic Parker.

In retrospect, I might have taken about 20% empathy off the top of that speech in writing.  It's a combo deal.  First, you can't play 1st Year Parker in Year 5.  That is static and boring, although falls more in line wiht how TV shows are structured.  Second, Beth Riesgraf herself is an incredibly sweet, empathetic person.  Whenever we swing by that character beat, it can't help but bubble up a bit.

@Zmiles: I see that Bob Jenkins managed to survive the Castleman take down in Season 1. Or was it another congressman with the same name?

Another Congressman with the same name cleared by legal.

1.) this kind of strikes me as a step up in seriousness for the Leverage team - going from running cons on individual companies to dictating national policy. Is this part of a pattern, or am I imagining the progression (after all they did steal a law way back when).
2.) I was also wondering at how this intersects with the real world, whether the Leverage team were taking credit for an actual law that had passed or if they were setting right what is wrong in our world.

1.) Not a linear step on the power line. The main fun of it was showing that our guys may be the greatest grifters on earth, but Congress leaves them in the dust.
2.) Listen to the podcast, we have a long, in depth discussion of the real world legal cases.

@Ally (Note: I always confuse you and allyone): 
1. Why couldn't we actually see Parker do some gymnastic-y stuff? That was really my one regret of this ep. 
2. Did Sophie really just forge a multi-national deal? 
3. Seeing Parker open up was so sweet...just, more! Please! 
4. Nate definitely has weaknesses. Right? 
5. Were all of the laws Hardison was stonewalling the Busey with orange boxes, or did you stick some ledgers in there? 
6. Why is Eliot suspicious? 
7. Did Nate purposely give Eliot LeGrange? If so, what for? 7a. And was it really a test of Eliot's grifting/people skills, or something else? 
8. RENEWAL?????????????

1.) Timing, actually.  Massive budget/scheduling crunch on this episode.
2.) Yep.
3.) There's a bit more of it coming this season.  We're kind of at the outside edge of how empathetic we want to take the character.
4.) As above.  In the first draft, Eliot actually enumerates them.
5.) Some were real.  I grew up near Boston, and Massachusetts has some fascinating blue laws.
6.) Because Suspishus Eliot iz Suspishus.
7.) Yes and yes.
8.) We'll tell you as soon as we know.

@Anonymous: So... that look on Eliot's face at the end of the last scene, it harkens back to "The First David Job", does it not? Eliot knows that Nate played him and you don't con your own crew!, right?

That is ... remarkably close.  And you may draw your own conclusions as to why you do not see that expression recur.

@Mark: All the team accomplished was getting a bill through a single committee. Assuming the bill only falls under one committee's jurisdiction, you still need to get through the committee in the Senate, then get the bill up for vote in the House, then actually pass the bill in the House, then get the bill to the floor on the Senate, then get 60 votes to end debate, then pass the bill in the Senate, then reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bill, then repeat the process with the new, identical bills, then get the president to sign it.

Which is all very,very depressing.

@Barri Lynn Moreau: 
1.) I'm liking the whole Portland setting, really, but couldn't you do a con linking with the other Portland, the FIRST one? You're a New Englander, have you run out of ideas to do here? (What if the Stanley Cup was in Portland, ME)?
2.) When do you learn as producers, whether or not your show will be picked up for another season? Do you just wait until you hear from them or do you go and lobby them or wait for ratings or fan pressure? I am so totally addicted to this show and all the actors, it's disturbing.

1.) I have done stand-up in Portland, Maine.  It is a crime-free Mecca, inappropriate for our grifters to despoil.
2.) Wait until we hear.  One of the reason many exec producers are quite insane.

@Caravelle: I bought the first season of Leverage on DVD ! I am enjoying watching them all again, and I am REALLY enjoying the commentaries. You guys all seem to be fun and smart people ! I'm mostly posting this because in the first episode commentary you talk about how you got picked up for a second season, and then Dean says something like "of course maybe now we're in our fifth season so you should buy all the other DVDs". So that was amusing to me :) Which makes me wonder, did you have specific ideas about how the show would be like by Season 5, and how close are things now to what you were thinking of back in season 1 ?

Huh.  It is close-ish.  I will say that the last scene of Season Five is PRECISELY the last scene of Season Five I have had in my head since Season One.  We've wandered and discovered things along the way, but at the end you will see we had a road map, and stuck to it as close as we humanly could.

@LindaS: When PEP was trying to find the money to transfer and Hardison kept blocking them, where did they think the warning messages were coming from? Would it be some kind of software companies have to alert them to potential ethics or liability problems in running their business? I haven't seen anything like that out there. 

Dramatic license to keep from casting another expert for every department/company we had in the con structure.

@ANonymous: ugh. i know nothing about cheer competitions, so that portion didn't bother me. but i've worked with the folks on the Hill for most of my career as an issue advocate, and i can only hope you never, ever revisit congress. this has to have been the worst episode you've fielded so far. "federal high school athletics committee"? i nearly choked on my breakfast. it would have made more sense to steal a federal judge

To be fair to our research-mad writers, the original pitch was state-level. I bumped it up to Federal because Congress is a much richer, fatter target.  I'd also note that the "Federal High School Athletics Commission" is nowhere near the most ludicrous commission that could or does exist int he Federal Government.  

Also, you can't hear the Death Star blow up in space.

@Kevin W:Full disclosure: I'm a conservative Republican who disagrees with plenty of the political stuff you've posted on here.  Now that that's out of the way, thank you for not making LeGrange into the standard strawman conservative character. It seemed like things were heading in that direction with his initial comments about spending but the establishment of the character made it clear he was a good and honest guy. We're not all bad people, you know. :)

Absolutely not all bad people.  Unfortunately I think the most extreme examples of each political position tend to be the ones who grab the most headlines.  And those people deserve to be mocked.  Hard.

1.) What's going on with Parker not voting?
2.) Also I just want to say that in your last post, someone said it was uncharacteristic of Nate to not know what the client really wanted (his reputation) because he was always so concerned with morality. And you said that it was the writers that were concerning themselves with morality, not Nate. I just wanted to say that I don't know if that's true. In The Reunion Job, Nate wouldn't take the case until Hardison told him WHY. You could argue that he was just pushing Hardison but why else would he push him if not for the sake of morality? I'm sure there are other instances where he's done something similar as well.
3.) Also I wanted to ask your thoughts on the impression I have that everyone seems to have a specialty that is specific to them except Sophie. Everyone can grift pretty exceptionally. Even Parker. Parker's limitations with grifting clearly aren't stopping her from being completely excellent at it. Anyway I'm not complaining. I just want to know your thoughts on it. It seems if Sophie didn't show up for work, she wouldn't really be missed. Aside from her general awesome-ness (and we all love looking at Gina Bellman).

1.) No paperwork exists on Parker's real name, and she doesn't want to commit voter fraud.  Which is wrong.
2.) Nate does have his own morality and is concerned with the morality of the clients, but I think it's pretty clear he can bounce between caring about the clients and being obsessed with winning/destroying the mark.  Even if we don;'t write to it often, it's definitely one of the things I keep in my head about him (see "The Boys Night Out Job" for example).
3.) Actually I'd disagree with you.  Parker can grift for VERY short periods of time, and there better be plenty of room for those rough edges and not a lot of talking.  Hardison can scam but not grift -- he goes over the top every, every time.  Eliot's actually second best, but really specializes in low-status grifts.  Nate's good in a very specific situation -- the hard-sell.  Have you ever seen him do empathy or warmth in a con? Only Sophie can cover every grift base.

Some of this came out of second season, when we lost Gina for a bit and had to write in the idea that everyone was scrambling to cover until she returned.  Some of it is because grifting is one of the most teachable elements of the con, and the team learning from each other is a plot point.  But you can go back and look at Sophie's role in most episodes, wonder if one of the other team members could have pulled that off, and the answer would be "Hell no."

@TJ: Q1) I know Coach Cornell just wanted her girls safe, but did the team ever find a way to get her back into cheerleading as a coach? 
Q2) What's the actual episode number vs. the airing episode number for this one? 
Q3) Was Nate forcing Parker to interact with people just like he was forcing Eliot to plan for the same reason or was that a happy accident for him? 
Q4) What letter was the RICO case plan? 
Q5) Why wasn't it wasn't easier to go after the bad guy in this one and install a new person to change the policies of the company if she was the crux of the problem. That would have been easier wouldn't it? 5b) Did Nate force the bigger congress play for a reason? 
Q6) Did Sophie stay sitting down so she wouldn't get noticed by the mark like everyone else did? 
Q7) Did Nate basically make the most of the crew run their own con and if so was it on purpose? 
Q8) Was it really just a lunch that bought that guy off or more we didn't see? 
Q9) Did Nate assign who got which senator because they both seem perfect for which team member they got. They seemed like both the perfect mark for each of our crew while simultaneously being the perfect kryptonite. Hardison getting the numbers/system lady, Sophie getting the Chain of Deals (basically grifting) man, and Eliot getting the "For Service of Country" guy. It seems more like they might have benefited from "The think/be like someone else approach" from the First David Job. And Nate, of course, got the easy target. 
Q10)Who's idea was it to show the parallels of conning and grifting to Congress? And was it something that you had to tone down? Is it so much worse in real life? 
Q11) Nate seem to be mentoring Eliot this epiosde. Is this going to be a trend, him backing up and guiding the crew more than masterminding the con? 
Q12) I know you said there were themes for each season, last season being consequences. What's the theme for this season? 
Q13) Did Nate ultimately know the name dropping/yearbook photo/publicity hook on the LeGrange or did he just know the "Some people want to keep serving" hook? Eliot didn't specify which hook he knew Nate knew. 
Q14) I know "Bring it on!" was probably on purpose, who wrote it in? 
Q15)Did the Wolves cheer performance include the crossing flips like the laser grid because of Parker's influence or am I just reading too much into that? 15b) How did the cheerleaders do with the laser exercise, performance wise? 
Q16) How did the federal agents get that warrant so fast?
Q17) How many lobbyists/Pac people did ultimately Sophie play?

1.) She's back in now that the group which disqualified her has been cast into suspicion.
2.) This one is where it's supposed to be, fifth and #505.
3.) Good question.
4.) Deep.  Q at least.
5.)  Hah, that's actually related to one of the real-world bits of research.  One of our model companies was sole-owner, so removing him would have just put a proxy board in place.  THere's no checks and balances in that company like there ar ein most major corporations.
6.) Coincidence.
7.) Better question.
8.) Nope.  Lunch.
9.) We always saw it as coincidence, but I like that better.  Consider it canon.
10.)  The room landed on it when stumped.  And yeah, it's much worse.  Frankly, it's just much less elegant.  Kind of gauche.
11.) Maybe.
12.) "Building"
13.) Name dropping one.
14.) The writer, fo course.
15a.) Of course!  15b.) Once she dialed down the wattage, not bad.  Lots of surface burns that first few days.
16.) By the same process Law & Order episodes hold a trial less than two years after an arrest.
17.) There were more than we showed - I think the chain we constructed in the room was about ten.

@Kate: We've had proof in the past that various team members would be terrifying if they bent their skills to certain fields. Sophie and politics. Parker and Cheerleading. Hardison and Accounting. Those are the ones I spotted in this episode. What would you say is something the Leverage team would be really good at but shouldn't do because it would just terrify the audience with it's possibilities?

Counter-terrorism, which when done right is primarily economic.

@Lin: Is Ian Blackpoole coming back this season? Or maybe it has to do something with Sterling?

... one of those is close.

@Anonymous: It's not really a real question, (and absolutely not a writing one) but why the heck was the coaching doing CPR on a fallen cheerleader? SERIOUSLY. I mean, Parker joking aside, a first responder should have made sure she's breakthing, and then secured her head / neck and waited for the ambulance to arrive. 
It's just a pet peeve of mine, how bad all actors are at doing the right thing for an injury. Does no one have common sense?

Actually, we based it on a real case, where the girl's neck injury was high enough she stopped breathing.  But salt to taste.

@IMForeman: Early in the episode, when Parker's in DC, and Skyping with the team at Leverage HQ, were the graphics (and Beth) on a practical projection screen that the actors could see and react to? Or was it a green screen burn-in? It looked practical to me, so if it was a burn in, kudos on that.

Burn-in, but to be fair we spent a LOT of time tuning that screen for best possible results.  We bought that model for specifically that reason, uniform color control.

@Anonymous:I'm disappointed with the shows increasingly poor realtionship with reality. 

The show's alway been clever and sometimes stretched credulity but not so much
as to really bother me. That is no longer the case. I can't believe that nobody's
commenting on this. A few points that irritated me in this episode:
1) The cheerleader gets dropped to start out the show. Not just fumbled - dead dropped
with such force so as to put her in a wheelchair. What do we think happened? As she
went up in the air did suddenly everyone fall prey to the Ebola virus? Did they all have pot
brownies that kicked in at the same time? As she's going up there are at least three
people watching her closely, and then she suddenly drops like a stone. It would have 
been so easy to put in something realistic like, say, as she's coming down there's an 
extremely loud noise or crash and everyone is momentarily distracted.
2) Somehow, the FBI was able to put together a Ricoh task force in, what, a few hours?
Aren't Ricoh Act cases notoriously hard to put together? Is it credible that this could
have been done in a few hours? 
3) Is it credible that, after balking at the "legality" warning that Hardison put up for 
one of the companies, that the guy would go ahead and commit a blatantly illegal act without 
at least calling nnnn? No it is not. Maybe if they threw in a scene where he is clearly 
conflicted and tries to call nnnn but Hardison has blocked his cell phone so he decides 
to do it anyway, I would be okay with that. Or even, when he calls nnnn, if he simply 
says "I tried to reach you before I did the transfer but couldn't", that might be enough 
for me to say "unlikely, but it could have happened". 
4) As the FBI drags away xxxx at the end, they don't SAY anything to her other than grabbing
her and saying, "come with us"? Really? Is this credible? Don't they usually say, oh I don't know,
"Are you nnn", "you're wanted for questioning" or something like that?
I know that this isn't a reality show (not that those are really real either), but I expect
more effort on the part of the writers to maintain the quality level of the show and this 
is done, in part, by writing scenes that at least COULD happen in the real world. This show,
is supposed to be happening in the real world. Dogs don't have seven feet and there are no 
flying zebras. C'mon writers, put just a little more effort into it.
There are very few shows that I've dropped after watching from the beginning, but this is
coming close to being one.

1.) ... you know Cheerleaders get dropped while being spotted all the time, right?  Like gymnasts?  Literally hundreds of times a year, which is where those accident stats come from? Is each one of those spotters, a hundred times a year, distracted by loud noises?
2.) Nope.  Not credible at all.  See the snarky Law & Order reference. Or House.  Or every cop show on earth.
3.) You know people break the law because their bosses tell them to all the time, right?  Remember that giant financial crash that almost destroyed the world about four years ago?
4.) Sure.  I'll give the FBI day player better dialogue next time.

I don't usually punch down, and I don't have problems with disagreeing with choices, but implying my writers are lazy or don't bust their ass doing more research than five other crime shows put together?

Dont.  Shit.  On.  My.  Writers.

Well, that ended with a spark, eh?  Okay, in a day or two, I'll jump to to D.B. Cooper, then catch up as fast as possible.  Then plenty of time for the wayback machine write-ups as we hurtle toward the winter episodes.


Elliot Rivera said...

11"Don't. Shit. On. My. Writers."

I think I fell in love with you a little more...

Anonymous said...

"Parker doesn't want to commit voter fraud". I love that :)

SueN. said...

Is it credible that, after balking at the "legality" warning that Hardison put up for one of the companies, that the guy would go ahead and commit a blatantly illegal act without at least calling nnnn? No it is not.

Face it, Rogers, anybody who would post something that incredibly stupid deserves to get punched.

You and your writers are the best!

ellbell said...

"But don't assume that some of the events of this season you DON'T see won't be revealed in the season finale."

A TRIPLE NEGATIVE? I swear, I've read that phrase like, 30 times and still have no idea what it means.

I love the first part of this write up. Thanks again for doing these!

Caravelle said...

I think the "legality" warnings Hardison put up would be more likely to make the guy commit an illegal act than not - for two potential reasons :

1) if the guy cares about legality: he's obviously dealing with software that can detect acts that violate the most obscure of obscure statutes. If it doesn't flag something then it has to be legal !

2) if the guy doesn't care about legality : that bloody software's been flagging him for every attempt he makes to move the money, his boss is pestering him to get it done already. The second he finds an operation that the software doesn't flag, you can bet he'll do it just so he can wipe his hands off this whole frustrating task.

NG said...

Elliot Rivera said...

11"Don't. Shit. On. My. Writers."

I think I fell in love with you a little more...

Get in line, Elliot.

Ian said...

To the last commenter:

DBChen said...

An Olympic gymnast on tour injured herself because the mats were not thick enough and had to drop out. If OLYMPIC ATHLETES are given too-thin mats, what hope do high school kids have, especially girls who are still given short shrift

IMForeman said...

Firstly on the difference between Nate and Sophie in a Grift: Sophie's the carrot, Nate's the stick.

Sophie will go in there and make the mark feel comfortable and understood... and why don't you just go ahead and do that thing you really wanna do anyway.

Nate's specialty is a usually aggravating a Mark so much that the Mark wants to destroy him so badly that he runs headfirst into a trap.

Second: On Angry Anonymous guy's comment "3) Is it credible that, after balking at the "legality" warning that Hardison put up for
one of the companies, that the guy would go ahead and commit a blatantly illegal act without
at least calling nnnn? No it is not. Maybe if they threw in a scene where he is clearly
conflicted and tries to call nnnn but Hardison has blocked his cell phone so he decides
to do it anyway, I would be okay with that. Or even, when he calls nnnn, if he simply
says "I tried to reach you before I did the transfer but couldn't", that might be enough
for me to say "unlikely, but it could have happened". "

Doesn't this fall under the same technique they used on the guard in the Hot Potato Job? Filling his head with so much discordant information that he latches onto the one thing that isn't causing him annoyance without thinking. Isn't that framing? Getting them focused so much on one thing (achieving a money transfer) that they don't think much about where they got it.

And for the warnings he was getting, wondering where that's coming from... do you really question the things popping up on your web-browser? If you log into your bank's website and access your accounts, and try to transfer some money from one account to another and a pop-up comes up that says the transfer will violate a law, do you really think you'd suspect it's a hacker yanking your chain?

Finally, John, if you read this, I want your take on something. I read several sites this week talking about how the newest iPhone doesn't have NFC... so I looked up NFC, and right away I thought "Well, that sounds like Hacker Christmas." Have I been watching Leverage too long and thus start looking for the crime that can be committed by new tech, or does attaching your banking details to a radio broadcast (even a weak one) seem like a super bad idea?

Bex said...

I kind of love how that one ended :D Heh.

jamoche said...

@ ellbell:

Reparsed: There may be flashbacks in the final episode to scenes in earlier episodes that weren't actually shown in those episodes. Or maybe not :)

(I do boolean logic for a living. Computers bend to my will. Yet the captcha here still baffles me.)

Video Beagle said...

IMForeman...I've been on the exact same rant the past week about NFC. no one has explained why it's a good idea

David Bonner said...

Can we get the site updated with the most recent podcasts, please?

ellabell said...


THANK YOU! Now, John Rogers, was that so hard?

(however, now looking at it, the original is more clever and funnier. So. I just need to learn Boolean expressions... in addition to figuring the geotech analysis that I actually get paid for.)

Oh, that interpretation looks interesting... finally, something to look forward to for the finale instead of just this abject fear.

David Bonner said...

Never mind...the kindly folks at @Lev10Podcast pointed out the new server.

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Jelly said...

"Actually, we based it on a real case, where the girl's neck injury was high enough she stopped breathing. But salt to taste."

- The girl is visibly breathing in the shot. Hard to change, of course, since she's actually uninjured, but undercuts suspension of disbelief a bit.

- even if she weren't, the coach didn't check, so she doesn't actually know if CPR is required

- Anon has a point about stabilising her spine. After calling for an ambulance and starting CPR (assuming it's required) getting someone on her head to hold her neck and spine immobile is your next step. An untrained bystander can be taught to do this in a few seconds if they're calm and reasonably clever.

Of course, all of that could just mean that the coach isn't qualified in first aid/CPR or hasn't retrained recently enough.

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Sullivan said...

I'd seen the Penn and Teller BS! bit on this exact topic... and they had an chart of interlocking companies that looked a lot like yours.

Anonymous said...

"DBChen said...

An Olympic gymnast on tour injured herself because the mats were not thick enough and had to drop out. If OLYMPIC ATHLETES are given too-thin mats, what hope do high school kids have, especially girls who are still given short shrift."

Which its why parents need to be cognizant of such things and be ready to step in and pull their kids from seriously unsafe activities.

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