Monday, November 19, 2012

LEVERAGE #508 "The Broken Wing Job" post-game

I could be working on my Savage Worlds campaign, but no.  You people.

It's been a while since we did a Bottle Show.  A "bottle show" for those of you new to the dance, is a television episode shot entirely on existing stages.  Sometimes you throw in some easily built swing sets, but existing stages is the traditional meaning.  This is done in order to save money which can then be allotted to bigger episodes. Go back to your favorite shows and take a look.  A couple bottle shows in there, no matter the show.

Now, let's put aside the production issues for a bit.  Scott Veach had the idea for a Rear Window episode -- in season 5, every show starts screwing around with perception.  I think it's hardwired into the evolution of television shows.

We'd been kicking around the "Those dudes picked the wrong bar" idea for a bottle show for a while.  Kirsch jumped in with the idea of melding the two, and the premise behind the sidekick character.  Kirsch and Veach last year gave us "The Queen's Gambit Job", so this team-up made sense for us again.  

I want to take a moment ot congratulate both of them.  They both started as staff writers on Leverage -- Kirsch as our assistant, and Veach as a freelancer.  They becamse invaluable voices on the show, and are now off working successfully on other shows.  I'm very proud of how they've built their careers.

Frankly, Downey and I wish them success so they'll hire us when we're cranky, unemployable old showrunners.

Anyway, for a Bottle Job a solo effort is actually easier to structure, as finding something to keep five team members busy in two interconnected sets is difficult as hell. (Go back and look at "The Bottle Job".  Eliot and Parker are super light, we just hid it well)  That fit with the isolation of Rear Window.  Who would be the worst person to be incapacitated?  Parker of course.  The idea had its own story gravity, dragging it toward its natural form.

That's the writing part of the background.  Now the production part.

This thing was NUTS.

Creative fiddling aside, this episode was mandatory to construct as a one-hander -- it had to be shot simultaneously with episode #509 "The Frame-up Job" and episode #511 "The Low Low Price Job".  Three episodes shot at the same time.  This was necessary to carve out the budget for the summer blow-out.

If some other one-hour showrunner tells you his writing staff's gotten four scripts ahead in the middle of the season (because we also had to coordinate with #510 "The Rundown Job" also) and then lined up the SHOT AND SCENE ORDER FOR THREE EPISODES and then adjusted them for production, tell them to fuck right off, because they have not.  It was like Game of Thrones all up in that production office.  Paul Bernard, our Line Producer, was a frikkin' Spartan when it came to this situation.

While we shot Beth out in the HQ, Tim and Gina were on location at the mansion for #509, then on the other soundstage in the vault set for that episode.  When that wrapped, we switched to shooting the parking lot scenes for "Low Low Price" (you'll understand when you see it) in the parking lot of our soundstages, with digital trickery turning our soundstage/warehouse into a Big Box Store.  When Beth was available for the the last few days of that shoot, we swung her out to the warehouse which served as the interior of the Big Box Store -- which eagle-eyed fans may spot as both the interior of the Patent Warehouse of Misfit Inventions from #417.

Nicely enough we had old hands directing this madness, with John Harrison on the Rear Window homage.  John had actually developed a TV movie adaptation of the original Cornell Woolrich short story, so he came in with some ideas on making sure the shots kept moving and the blocking stayed dynamic.  He knew how hard it would be for Beth to carry the show alone, so he went out of his way to pre-shoot as much of the surveillance footage as possible to put on the screen so she wouldn't be trying to act opposite a blank wall covered with tracking dots.

We got very lucky with Aarti Mann.  As is traditional we try to be color blind with casting whenever we can, and she just murdered the audition in LA.  This led to some amusing clearance issues ("Change her name." "WE DON"T HAVE TIME TO CLEAR A NEW NAME").  She and Beth went to dinner a few times before they began shooting, which was invaluable.  Our 7 day prep/7 day shoot often means guest cast are arriving just 24 hours before they step in front of the camera, and this was easily one of the most demanding guest roles we've ever had on the show.  The extra time gave them the chance to build up some chemistry --

-- which, frankly, I thought was spectacular.  I loved the two of them together, I loved the way Beth had Parker channeling Nate when she was being manipulative, but never losing Parker's voice, I loved watching the two of them have actual conversations, which was really a first for Parker.  Even with Peggy, Parker's got some shields up.  This is the first time, I think, you see that Parker  could have more than one friend.  I mean, she'll trick those friends into breaking the law, but still ...

I will admit one proud moment in our geek education of Downey, who does not really do any internet stuff ... ever.  We were in editing.  At the moment where Parker stumbled and winced, and Aarti catches her, Downey said "Hey, that's hurt/comfort."

"That's right!" I beamed.  "You're learning."

"WHY AM I LEARNING THAT?!" he shuddered.  But hey, it's the 21st Century.  Gotta know your tropes if you're going to run a TV show.  Hell, a half a bottle of Irish Whiskey later and I'd broken about six episodes of the "Parker and Amy fight crime and terrorists and aliens and hug a lot" show.

I really have to give a giant shout-out to Beth on this one. After -- and she freely admitted this on the podcast -- a freakout at the idea of carrying a whole episode, she worked tirelessly with John Harrison to pre-plan as many of the shots as they could and just prep the hell out of this thing.  There's not a person on the crew who wouldn't take a bullet for that girl, and her fantastic work ethic is one of the reasons.

Right, let's deal with your giddy cheer and mournful disappointment:

@Sprite: Completly off topic, aside from the fact that you and your crew know and see all: Tell me that Hardison has one of these 3D printers and that we might see one used in an episode.

We were planning on getting one, but couldn't justify it in an episode.  I'm putting one in my office though, if we need to punch our geek cred ticket. 

@Anonymous: Less than half way thru and I'm going to go out on a limb and say we are NEVER going to get to see the full con the others were on, are we? How much fun did the 4 of them have showing a 'mystery' con?

Correct. We've thrown around several "cons you never see" like the pirate one, which we finally used in "The Cross My Heart Job" episode.  Although the other four were all troopers, they were a bit rushed and cramped, as they all shot out their scenes in tiny, transforming two (sometimes one!) wall sets.

@Shayna j. Houp: ... I could be imagining it but it sure looked to me like Elliot recognized that monkey statue that Sohphie walked out with. Perhaps it has jade eyes, or a jade piece that has since been broken off/taken etc. ? Are we getting a glimpse of the infamous Jade Monkey that caused Elliot so much trouble in one of his pre-Leverage adventures? Can't wait to find out this and more in the next exciting installment. . .

Yes, but you will (probably) never find out more.  But consider the mystery of the Jade Monkey closed.

@Gina: 1.) Just one thing -- I didn't quite buy that Nate & Co. would have left Parker to do all that on her own with a hurt leg. I know they were in Japan and all, but still, wish they could have found some way to send her some help.

2.) Are we ever going to find out how she hurt it in the first place? It's so unlike Parker to get injured!

1.) I saw that note a couple times.  Parker is one of the most dangerous humans on the planet.  I think the phone calls were more like, say, a friend needs to talk you into something they're fully confident you can do, rather than actual aide.

2.) Scaffolding collapse, 45th floor window washing rig.  Only her supernatural agility (d12) allowed her to avoid more serious harm.

@Susy: What did Nate and Sophie burn ??!??

The writers always thought it was a pile of money. For Beth Riesgraf's very,very disturbing guess, check out the podcast.

@PurpleOps: The feel-good episode of the summer! Fun episode. Only one or two questions; the rest are comments.

1. Were "V" and "K" either Blade Runner references (Voight-Kampf), Dollhouse references (where everyone was a letter), or Veach and Kirsch? And who would "O" have been?
3. Not being a viewer of "Big Bang Theory", I had not seen Aarti Mann. Nice work from her!
4. "I'm gloating." Back to the series format from the episode that departs from the series format. Fun!

1.) Veach and Kirsch, I believe.  Nice catch.
2.) It's even better in your imagination.
3.) Aarti has a job on any show I run from now on.
4.) And the circle of life is complete.

@WWWeaves: OOOH. 1)How much did Nate know, and when did he know it? 
2) How many of the patrons were Portland actors? cops? Romeo? Juliet? Doctor?
3) Will we see Amy again?

1.) A chunk of it, and put the rest together when he saw the bulletholes.
2.) Everybody but Aarti and V, the very excellent David Palladino.  The Portland acting community does  not disappoint!

IMForeman:  Did Hardison choose a Brewpub that was a stones throw from a Bank and a Jewelry store by accident? And how much does it say that Parker hadn't cased them yet?

Coincidence, and to tell the truth jewels aren't her thing, banks are.  Alternate answer -- in the middle of three scripts, I just flat-out missed that beat.  mea Culpa.

@Anonymous: 1. In Hitchcock, er, "homage", did anyone make a director/writer/producer cameo in the pub this ep?
2.) Was the sword Eliot had the same one that was his Christmas present from Nate and Sophie a couple seasons ago?
3.) Did you actually fully draft a con as unwritten backstory or just come up with random moments to show as a "con in Japan"?
4.) Someone above asked this, but what was the deal with Nate and Sophie burning something? Japanese tradition? Internal backstory?

1.) I do not believe so.  
2.) It is now.  CANON!
3.) There was the rough sketch of a con, but then we just chose some cool moments to highlight.  Nothing you could call a coherent story though.
4.) See above.

@Philip Moyer: Was the zombie movie an actual zombie movie? If so, what was it?

Yep, the original "Night of the Living Dead" which has circuitously fallen from copyright and is therefore cheap for anyone to show on their cable crime show. 

Were the crutches purchased from a medical supply, or were they made for the show? A someone who spends an inordinate amount of time with sprained ankles & knees, thus on crutches, they looked very functional.

Real crutches, but tricky to find.  Nice job by props, we looked at a LOT of different types of crutches.  We needed "serious injury" but not "so bulky you can;t move and act with them".

@Rebecca: 1) Since this is a Parker-heavy episode, does that mean there's an episode later on that's Parker-lite? I know that sometimes episodes' shooting schedules coincide making it necessary to split the cast.
2) If the answer to 1 is yes, will it involve seeing what the hell the rest of the team was doing in Japan? (If the answer to 1 is no, will we ever get to see what happened in Japan, or will it just a be a really big Noodle Incident Job?)
3) What did Parker name the teddy bear?
4) I LOVED getting to see a little into Parker's mind when she looked at the getaway van. Most of the time her thinking is so outside of the box that you can't follow it, so it was nice to get a look at what she thinks when she sees something.
5) The pills make her go all "wibbly-wobbly?" Doctor Who shoutout, or me reading too much into it?
6) Can Amy come back more? It's nice to see Parker making another friend, especially since Alice White was burned (or was she?).
7) It's nice to see how perceptive Parker has become since the beginning of the series. There is NO WAY that season1!Parker would have been able to show that kind of empathy to Dr. Chicken Parm (James?) the way that season5!Parker does.

1) Indeed, she is non-existent in #509 and light in #511.
2.) Never see the Japan job.
3.) "Bear".  Her toy names are functional.
4.) That is just one version of "Parker-vision" we've experimented with.  I hope someday you get to see the others.
5.) TOTAL Dr. Who shoutout.
6.) Peggy is still pals with Alice White -- remember, she just thinks Alice is a spy.  And if there's a Season 6, we'll do our best to bring Aarti back.
7.) The eternal balance of TV.  Growth, but not TOO MUCH growth.  Real credit to Beth here for working hard on tuning the character every year.

@Bex: You guys definitely seem to be splitting the gang up more. Is this possibly getting us into preparation for the finale (that, from what I hear, will shatter us all) or is the second half of the season going to have more of them all working together like previous seasons? Not that I mind either way, I rally think the dynamic is rocking this season.

They're definitely split up a lot in mid-season to account for scheduling in the summer finales.  It's team-a-riffic all through the back five.

@Susannah: What's with Eliot's facial hair? Why suddenly the full beard this week? Not that I'm complaining. At. All. What? These things are important. (I'm also dying to know about his hair cut in the previews, but I'm assuming you won't be explaining that until next week, so I'll just sit back and wait patiently.)

I think he was psyching himself up to cut his hair the next week, and so grew some extra to balance things out.

@ChelseaNH: I was a little concerned that Amy would be tipped that there's something up with the crew in the back, but she's been coopted now. Is this all part of Nate's grand scheme? (And it was a little bit of Hogwarts/Charles Xavier School for the Gifted with Parker "training" Amy in the ways of con-avenger fu.)

Not exactly part of the grand scheme.  Not exactly.

@Anonymous: And another question: Any backlash from the cast about a script centering on one member? (You don’t have to answer that.)

Jesus no.  Most of them got to read it before she did (she was shooting long hours the day it dropped) and kept going up to her and congratulating her ... and psyching her the fuck out.  "Man, there is NO WAY I'd want to do all that work." "SO much responsibility ..." etc.

@oopyu: 1) If we don't see what happened in Japan, I'm going to be very upset. You're going to show us what happened in Japan, right?
2) How do the team not know they have a billionaire working as a waitress? If anyone was going to do exhaustive, civil liberty-violating background checks (or at the very least a Google search) before hiring people, it would be the Leverage team.
3) Cop-shooting nutcase had attempting a kidnapping with two witnesses, shot a cop in front of another witness, there was an armed cop searching his getaway van, more police were on the way and he was in a room with more surveillance equipment than Post-Olympics London... what possessed him to go after Parker instead of running for the hills and hoping he can get across some kind of international border? (amazing that he had the temerity to tell Parker that she was in over her head)
4) Parker will be back in time for the next big con, right? Hardison's grown more versatile lately, but I don't think he can cut it as a front-line thief.

1.) Enjoy your upset-edness.
2.) They tend to ignore the bar as Hardison's hobby horse.  it's a bit of a blind spot for all of them.
3.) Criminals do not tend to have good anger-management skills.
4.) Parker is back in action, as you saw.

@Calla: 1.) Did Beth really hurt her knee? I vaguely remember her tweeting something about that a while back.
2.) Are you really filming inside the Bridgeport Brewpub? If not, why use an established business instead of just making one up?
1.) She did tweak her knee while shooting, but quite a bit earlier than this.
2.) We're using the Bridgeport Brewery for the exterior shots and transitional interior stuff.  We figured, rather than obscure the signage, why not throw some attention to a fine Portland-based business?

@mickeyinvegas: thank you so much for the Parker episode. Love Beth and the character so much.
Q1): Nate knew what was happening cause they were there a few days already and they knew who the daughter was so this was his way of grooming Parker to lead..right??
Q2):We all know Beth is a goofball and cracks up all the time during filming so did this spisode take much longer than usual to shoot cause of her laughing?? I'm really looking forward to this episodes gag reel
Q3): If this is the last season then you are brilliant cause you setting things up for great spin-offs...any time table on season 6 status??
Q4): Who's idea was the gloating bit? another hilarious moment.

1.) Hmm.
2.) Actually, there was less laughing, as its the other cast members who crack her up.  Tim torments her.
3.) Thank you, but these aren't spin-offs, just ways of working around our budget.  No word yet on S6.
4.) The writers typed it!  They do that a lot.

@Pixie: In "Two Horse", Sophie mentions pulling off 'The Lost Heir' con. You've said Charlotte is another con identity, but it holds up rather well. Is Charlotte the result of Sophie succeeding all-too-well at the 'Lost Heir'?

Wow, deep cut.  I'll say yes.

@Anonymous: 1) What happened to the snow monkey after the con was over?
2) Parker called Hardison and Nate when she needed help with something specific, but her phone call to Eliot seemed like a general call to a mentor figure. Was it a specific choice to take their dynamic in that direction after the Long Way Down Job, or was it something we can assume was always there that just never really made it to screen in the earlier seasons? And is it just me, or does it seem like Parker has 'graduated' from Sophie up to Eliot, in terms of mentorship? Like, Sophie handled basic human interaction, and now Parker's ready to move on to a teacher who can help her with specifics (since she and Eliot are more alike in some ways)?
1.) Set free to roam with other snow monkeys in the ... er... wherever they live.
2.) I'd say yes, after "Long Way Down", their fundamental relationship changed.  Eliot helps her be more comfortable with being her.

@Anonymous: ... I don't suppose you've got any wise words for me? Any advice? Maybe send Kane over to give me a version of the talk he had with Parker in "The French Connection Job"? Recommend a book I should read or a movie I should see? Anything? Obi-wan Rogers, you're my only hope.

Drop me a line at the account.  My wife does some work in this regard, maybe I can help you out a bit.

@Karo: 1.) Was it a coincidence that the doctor stayed behind when the fire alarm rang even though everyone left? Or did he come back from outside because he heard the shots? (Why did the police officer let him and didn't come back again after he called for reinforcement on his phone?)
2.) I was surprised that Parker didn't know all the places with potential valuables in the whole area by heart.
3.) Trying to surprise the kidnappers in the dark seems extremely risky, wouldn't it have been easier to drop something on them, make them slip on the floor, or idk, something else? (I thought they could surprise them from above, but maybe there wasn't enough time to get into the harness.)
4.) Parker must have managed to hide anything suspicious before the cops came to take the bad guys away, but that's difficult in short time with one leg, so Amy probably helped her and saw a lot. Can't be helped, I suppose. I wonder how much she guesses about what her boss does, and I hope we'll see her again.
1.) Nope.  He was trailing to make sure everybody else got out okay.
2.) Like I said, banks are more her thing.  But I'd be willing to say she knew the jewelry store was there, but hadn't thought out its sightline from the windows.
3.) Parker did indeed take out the first guy from above, just impossible to see in the damn dark!  We tried to show it more in editing, and wound up taking it out.
4.) Amy knows a LOT of what goes on now, and I certainly hope we have the chance to showcase her again.

@Mockette: I got a "don't say anything" vibe from Eliot when they all walked in on Parker and Amy watching the movie and Nate said "you all know Amy.." Is Amy Eliot's girlfriend!

It was kind of a sideways "Don't say anything" to Parker, like "What's she doing in the Batcave?"

@Stephen Granada: I always wondered what would happen if "Rear Window" and the Buffy episode "The Zeppo" had a baby, and now I know!  "Rear Window" seems like a clear touchstone for the episode; "The Zeppo", less so. Were those in y'all's minds as you broke the story, or am I imposing things on the show after the fact?

Although "The Zeppo" doesn't really map because of Parker's significance to the team, its structure was definitely something we took a look at while breaking this episode.

@SuzyQ: If the kidnapping was just a snatch and grab while Amy was taking the trash out, why did it take 4 kidnappers days to try it? And why did you need 4 kidnappers for a snatch and grab? Seems to me it could have been done in a day (or two).

And yet they couldn't.  No, joking aside, that's about the right number based on research.  Creepy, creepy research.

@Anonymous: What kind of relationship do you have with (the real) BridgePort? I was surprised that that 1) it exists (you've mentioned legal clearances many times) and 2) it's across the street and/or a block away from the fictional BridgePort Brewpub/Brewery. 3) What's actually in the building you've placed the fictional brewpub?

No, that's the actual Bridgeport Brewery, not the building across the street.  Go there!  They have delicious booze!

@Lilith: It was good to see Parker in action, I like Beth very much, but I’m missing Sophie/ Gina soooo much! Amy was nice but I fear she will be substituting one of the team in the near future. Please more Sophie scenes!!! She is my favorite!

Boy, do you get a lot of Sophie coming up ...

@Caravelle: ... I think we answered your question in the write-up.

@Ally: Parker is so sweet! Beth was fabulous, just saying. Questions:
1. What was the rest of the cast doing while Beth filmed this, aside from those handful of scenes.
2. We didn't get to see Eliot fight with samurai swords? REALLY????????
3. How exactly did Parker hurt herself? (Or did Beth actually injure herself?)
4. What happened in Tokyo? 4a. What happened between Nate and Sophie in Tokyo?
5. Why did Parker never call Sophie for help? She called everybody else, including Nate, but Sophie's usually the one she goes to for advice. Why no Sophie call?
6. May we have Amy again? Please?
7. Did anybody else think that the bear was bugged and that Amy was in on the thievery for a few minutes?
8. HARDY! Can we see more Hardy? Please...
9. Where was Bunny?
10. The kidnappers are pretty incompetent, if it took them DAYS to pull off a simple snatch/grab.
11. I trust there will be more Sophie in the finale? This episode was decidedly Sophie-light. My only complaint.
12. RENEWAL????????????????????
1.) As mentioned in the write-up, busy shooting other episodes.
2.) You're nowhere near as pissed off as he was.
3.) See above. (Beth was fine)
4.) Cool stuff. 4a.) Sexy stuff.
5.) She called Sophie, and Sophie handed Nate the phone.  She can be a bit selfish, you know.
6.) I'll do my best.  Thank Kirsch and Veach for inventing her.
7.) Hmm.
8.) Okay, Hardy instead of Amy.  Gotcha.
9.) Still in Parker's vault-like living quarters.
10.) You people's lack of respect for proper planning makes me think you are probably not cut out for professional crime.  So my advice is -- do not be a criminal!
11.) "The Frame-Up Job" should have sated you.
12.) As soon as I know, I tell you.

@jamesfirecat: I recall hearing that before she had started working with the Team Parker had never been caught... so what was she doing talking about how good the food was a French Jail?  I hate to nitpick, but yeah, I know how much work you guys put into this show so I was just wondering what the story is behind that line...

All joking aside, we internally differentiate between her "thief life" and her "Parker" phase.  She made a couple stumbles on the way to being who she was.  That said, they never tumbled her identity and she escaped in a night, so she doesn't count that one in her head.

@Jayne: ... Hmm.

@Elliot Rivera: 1.) Truly loved this episode, but in the scene where Parker is looking and admiring Amy's art work brought up an interesting question in my mind: Does Parker know that she, too, is a talented artist? In "The Fairy Godparents Job", she draws a sketch from memory that's so good Hardison and Eliot both are taken by surprise. I don't think her latent talent has been addressed since that episode; are we going to see it again?
2.) Another question: The employees' love of Hardison as a boss struck me as very illuminating into Hardison's character. Has his experience running the BrewPub changed his view on actually working as an honest man?
1.) Parker thinks that's just a skill -- remember, at the time she thought everyone can draw perfectly accurate sketches.  She derived no pleasure from it and it took no effort, so it didn't register.
2.) I think Hardison has unintentionally created a decent citizen life, if he wanted it.  More, though, I think he's just trying to pretend to be straight, and as a result is trying to be the man his Nana taught him to be.  The cover story fo a decent guy, after a while, just becomes a decent guy.

@Allyone: As someone who's seen people lose their significant others of many years, I think that whole Chicken Parm thing would have seemed a lot less presumptuous if his wife hadn't been dead for only 27 days. Having seen people I know go through that . . . ugh, that scene just pissed me off on many many levels. It literally enrages me. It just rang wrong on a lot of different levels.
But, you know, Parker is the Leverage world's most awesome person now, apparently. Empathetic, super human abilities to steal and climb onto the undercarriage of moving cars, able to run a job with minimal assistance while maintaining a perfectly healthy relationship.  So I guess it's no wonder that she can solve a perfect stranger's grief, too. :eyeroll:
I'm using this one post for several others we got on this subject -- and Allyone is a longtime fan, so she knows I'm cool with the occasional crankiness as long as its directed at me rather than other commenters.  
Honestly, that timeline didn't strike me as odd.  I lost a very dear friend a while ago, and his wife of over a decade adjusted by going back to work in two weeks, basically saying it was better than staying at home.  I've had several other deaths in the family dealt with in this way, including a co-worker who lost his only son.  Back at work in two weeks.  And of course, the writers themselves have not led lives free of tragedy.  They were drawing from personal experience.
Parker wasn't CURING this guy of grief, she was just trying to connect with him on some basic level.  Would she really find him a new favorite food?  Of course not.  Was it nice that she was using that as the excuse to punch a hole in his loneliness?  Yeah.  We all deal differently, both as the griever and the witnesses.  I can think of a couple times I've wished I handled grieving friends differently.  You can never fix anything.  But a little kindness never hurt anybody.  Salt to taste, as always.
And as to your later comment about the team not being damaged and flawed anymore ... maybe.  I totally get that, actually.  But they couldn't stay that way, not through Season Five.  And personally, I find shows where they retard a character's growth for the sake of extending the run kind of, lack of a better word, infantilizing that character. Shows I like a lot I wind up getting mad at for opposite reason than you -- I get sick of the bullshit roadblocks that get thrown up to set back personal development, so as to not screw with the chemistry (looking at you, Castle)  Again, salt to taste.
@Girl Saturday:  ... Jesus Christ, I'm sorry to hear that.  That one small character had quite the ripple effect.  I'm a little flustered at the idea the beat had any relevance whatsoever.  Thanks for contributing.
@Sabine: I really missed the rest of the team, so here's my question - can you tell me 
1. 3 things Eliot tried to learn but couldn't master
2. 3 subjects Nate does not understand
3. 3 types of people Sophie can't portray in a grift or at least the three most difficult for her

1.) Knitting, Lingala, Pokemon (to play with his nephew.  Fucking impenetrable, that game)
2.) Women. Atonal jazz. The appeal of French New Wave Cinema.
3.) A tall man, a Scandinavian, and a woman who likes atonal jazz and French New Wave Cinema.

@Anonymous: 1) Please tell me Nate at least heard Parker out on the situation before pretending the connection was breaking up? Because if he didn't, Nate's secret training plots and general bastardry aside, leaving their injured teammate behind to deal with armed criminals all alone seems like an extremely dangerous thing for him to do. I was surprised Sophie wasn't more concerned too, and I can't imagine Hardison or Eliot would have approved if they'd known. Or do they know Parker can handle herself in a fight, even injured as she was?
2) I know we won't ever find out what happened in Japan, but at least tell us this; we saw the team struggle without a grifter (poor Hardison, kidnapped by Russians), so did they struggle off-screen without a thief? Parker's worries about the team not needing her made me feel so badly for her.

1.) Hmm, it's the crutches that threw you people off.  Again, Parker is very dangerous.  Probably the second most dangerous person on the team and Eliot would argue first most dangerous.
2.) You'll note it took four of them to do a job Parker alone could have done.

@Anonymous: It was just weird that two cops just happened to pop up in the bar, and then act like inept Charley's Angels.
@Anonymous:  how much of that whole 'things go to pot' deal at the finale was planned?

Huh, obviously we could have been clearer about that. The cops were a setup by Parker, and we did NOT cut the distraction that let V take his shot well.  In the original, K raises his hands a bit, exposing his weapon, she swings her gun to him, which allows V to fast draw and shoot her.  In the final analysis, we did not cut that clearly -- not to blame our editor, I'm sure it's something I screwed with when we were going for performance or time.  And yes, things were meant to go to pot in a "Parker did not catch all the angles" way.

1) Parker obviously doesn't handle impairment well. Considering it, I wonder which team member would be the most insufferable when sick. At first I though Nate, but impairment doesn't phase him much it seems. So I'm stumped. Parker, with her bottled frenetic energy? Sophie? (I picture her being waited on hand and foot because... she can, while at the same time burying her red nose under some pillows so people don't see) Maybe Hardison with his running narration of quippy complaints? Eliot... Well, I'm not sure I believe Eliot CAN get sick.
2.)  DOES Hardison have any brothers? Just between you and the legions of fangirls of course. Even some particularly fond foster-brothers with vaguely aligning interests will do for our rampant speculations.
3) Oh, forgot to mention, read Little Brother not long after you recommended it and LOVED it. Getting all my friends to read it. Ehem. Just like I addicted them to Leverage. They call me the Geek Pusher. Any more recommendations for excellent nerdy Lit? Have you picked up Ready Player One by chance?

1.) I would actually say Nate.  He'd be very frustrated at losing a step.
2.) Although we've never addressed it in the show, according to Aldis' personal backstory for the character, yes.
3.) Did not dig Ready Player One, although I understand why others might.  Loving Leviathan Wakes and rereading Charlie Stross's Halting State and Rule 34.  If you dug LIttle Brother, definitely get Doctorow's For the Win.

@Anonymous When the team got back at the end, who noticed the bullet holes? Nate definitely seemed to, and I would assume Eliot would pick up on something like that. But what about Hardison and Sophie?

Hardison and Sophie eventually, but that night, Nate and Eliot, definitely.

@Unknown: In the beginning of the episode, when a bored Parker is channel surfing, is it Christian Kane's voice on the cooking show?

Nope, one of our editors, actually.


As always, a pleasure to spend time with you.  In just a few days we'll get 509 and 510 up, and you'll be caught up (with Season Five, anyway...)


IMForeman said...

No word from TNT this late into the year... Kirsch and Veach have moved on... it's not coming back is it?

Kes said...

DAMN YOU! You sent me into a TV Tropes spiral. DAMN YOU.

Kris said...

Thanks as always, Rogers. You're the best.

Maite said...

Hi John, I've only started reading this blog, but I just wanted to say thanks so much for this. I've managed to more or less catch up with everything you've written about the show so far. I appreciate the time you take to answer questions and post about the creative process that led to the creation of specific scenes in the show. I also enjoy your political ramblings! Yay for patience and scrolling. :)

By the way, are the podcasts in the podbean site [] still active? I think they have more episodes than the ones showing on iTunes? I'm trying to catch up on the podcasts as well. Thanks so much, blessings from the Philippines! :)

Maite said...

Let me answer my own question about the podcast and say yes. :) Thank you!

Emery Sanborne said...

Hell, a half a bottle of Irish Whiskey later and I'd broken about six episodes of the "Parker and Amy fight crime and terrorists and aliens and hug a lot" show.

Pretty please? With a case of the finest Irish whiskey on top? Teasing us with that is almost on par with Moffat and Madam Vastra and Jenny (and Strax).

On a more serious note, I just want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions (and torment us), giving us insight into both the show, the process, and everything else. I look forward to these posts almost as much as the eps themselves.

Mary Sue said...

Hell, a half a bottle of Irish Whiskey later and I'd broken about six episodes of the "Parker and Amy fight crime and terrorists and aliens and hug a lot" show.

Cease your prattling and accept my currency, sirrah!

Ray Radlein said...

I get sick of the bullshit roadblocks that get thrown up to set back personal development, so as to not screw with the chemistry (looking at you, Castle)

This! I've said for years that shows doing shit like that to avoid "The Moonlighting Curse" is the real Moonlighting Curse.

MacSTL said...

Rogers: We had a twitter exchange about the later renewal comes, the higher risk of change in writers.

You have said that Kirsch/Veach are now gone.

Other than you... who is left at this point? and how would that change YOUR job when renewal announced? Would the showrunner have MORE involvement since so many new 'voices'?

Rogers said...

@MacSTL: Pretty much everyone else is still available, and if we come back we'll probably have a 13 order. Not much would change.

Killash said...

Me too!!! That totally sucks...

Art_Connery said...

-JR How about the aldis and beth show with Amy as the plucky sidekick? Also, if I ever get to meet you I'll buy you that bottle of irish whiskey.
-IMForeman- Remember Parker's favorite thing is cashy money.
-JR I just realized how much Hardison trusts Parker that he accepts Amy in the Batcave without a word.This is from the man with his Vicki Vale protests of Tara in the Lost heir Job.
-Anonymous Remember the Maltese Falcon Job? Parker was thisclose to pitching Tara off the FBI building. Eliot won't kill unless he has to do so. Parker will kill when she's pissed off.
- Once again thanks JR and crew for making a show that we connect with so fiercely.

allyone said...

I can dig it, and I agree that different people see grief differently. I was possibly venting excessively over a variety of frustrations about the show this season. I personally miss the focus on the full five and feel like Parker has been too sterilized of her moral ambiguity and social craziness.

I totally get you on character development, and I'm totally with you that some shows stagnate with their characters. But there have also been shows where one or more of the characters hardly changed but the shows remained successful for a long time (going totally on memory of reruns but did anyone really change in the Rockford Files or MASH, e.g.) Some characters are so good they don't need to be changed too much. Now, Nate, who I love, had to evolve because he was so destructive and dark. As much as 1st season Nate gets me all aquiver, I know that that same level of the ca-razy is not creatively sustainable for the long haul.

But with Parker, I feel like she didn't have to change so much. I would like for there to be still enough crazy that she still might stab someone with a fork. That's easy for me though as a viewer, cause I'm not trying to balance a formula heist show with a character drama, but as a picky pain in the ass viewer, I prefer more salt. Or would that be less salt? You get the point.

Anyway, as I tell folks on TWOP when they complain about people complaining, I wouldn't rant if I wasn't emotionally involved and invested. Hope you get renewed so you can continue to piss me off in Season 6 with your lovely infuriating show!

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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Great! I enjoyed reading it. Now pleaseclear the restof the backlog of episodes you haven't done.

Theliel said...

Just a small note of thanks for continuing to write these up.

Always a joy to digest your stuff, both meta- bits of this and the actual work product.

I think I'm at the 'Pratchet' point with JR - that is I'll at least seriously try anything you're doing because of past performance.

Sarah said...

Thanks again for an insightful post--and clearing up the cops in the bar scenario, makes more sense now.

I'd be happy to chip in a full case of Irish Whiskey--Bushmill's??

Jennifer Mckingley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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Thanks John! Always a fun read :)

gwangung said...

Again, Parker is very dangerous. Probably the second most dangerous person on the team and Eliot would argue first most dangerous.

Hm. Yes. Eliot has scruples and self imposed limits. Parker doesn't. Eliot can fight dirty. Parker fights dirtier.

Caravelle said...

Completely off-topic question, I figure someone might already have asked but I've only just made the connection... In this live version of the Joss Whedon classic "Heart broken" he talks about the FUN TRAIN !!

I'd normally assume this is a general expression but from reading past blog posts and your responses to comments it seemed it's an expression specific to TV writing rooms, maybe even specifically TV writing rooms you're in.

Is it an ancient phrase that everyone in TV uses, or is there a line of descent we can trace between you and Joss using it ?

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I am stealing "They have delicious booze!" We live in a very tourist heavy area of Atlanta and people from out of town and the suburbs come into town and ask us where to go. From now on, I will use that line when making recommendations.

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Eric P said...

Lots of good ideas here. At the risk of appearing redundant, I am reposting my entry on the Leverage thread at Facebook's Series Save. Me page:

Leverage is easily the most sophisticated, fun, clever action adventure in the 21st Century. If TNT is not going to pick up "Leverage International" where it left off, another enterprising network should! The characters are all very different, but complement the qualities in all of the others in such a manner, that a rich synergy and chemistry emerges from the team.

"TNT's hit caper series Leverage scored more than 1.9 million viewers in Live + Same Day delivery for its midseason premiere last Tuesday, including 643,000 adults 18-49 and 772,000 adults 25-54."

One of the possible problems is that this show was aired past prime time at 10:00PM. The show should have aired at 7:00-8:00- or even 9:00PM.

This show seems to be a cross between the A-Team and Mission Impossible. Mission Impossible ran 177 episodes, A-Team ran 98 episodes. Even though the A-Team's ratings fell off substantially in the 4th season, they ran an incredible 25 more episodes than Leverage has thus far. Industry opinon is that the youth deserted The A Team because of it's violence, older audience could not get enough. There is a sprinkling of violence in Leverage and they don't kill anybody. The show is extremely crafted and cleverly produced.

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