LEVERAGE “The Studio Job” Review

Leverage (TNT)

Eliot takes center-stage in the hilarious “The Studio Job” episode of LEVERAGE as he pretends to be an up and coming singer to take down corrupt country music executive Mitchell Kirkwood (John Schneider). Singer/songwriter Kaye Lynn (Alona Tal) hires the team to get back the songs, money, and master tapes Kirkwood stole from her and her badly beaten brother. Using a fiddle game scheme, Nate and crew infiltrate Kirkwood Music, record Eliot singing one of Kaye Lynn’s songs, and steal back Kaye Lynn’s master tapes but have to improvise when Kirkwood decides to pass off Eliot’s recording as his own.

I’m thrilled to have an Eliot-centric episode, especially one where Christian Kane can show off his considerable and varied talents. When Eliot performs, that is actually Kane’s single “Thinking of You,” available now on iTunes. Eliot is completely charming tonight between his stage fright, his worry when he’s splashed all over the internet (“When you’ve done the things I’ve done there’s no such thing as paranoia”) and chased by screaming teen girls, and his removing his ear bud before Kaye Lynn gives him notes on his performance (excellent chemistry between Kane and Tal, by the way). The studio scene where he tries to signal the completely oblivious Hardison and Parker while fighting Kirkwood’s goon had me rolling on the floor.

This is the funniest Leverage episode in a long time. The sight gags alone, with Nate in his cowboy hat, Hardison in a ridiculous white fur coat, and Parker in her Bjork a la Gaga outfit gargling and spitting water because it’s not from a glacier (but still thinking she’s not quite crazy enough) make the episode. The writers are having way too much fun with Parker this season. Her twirling pickpocket dance is a thing of beauty and her quacking performance at the showcase is epic, but she also steals a scene from off camera by yelling “Oh! Eliot’s the fiddle! We sold Eliot to Kirkwood. I totally get it now!” Parker rules my world.

There are too many inside jokes and pop culture shout-outs to mention here, so please add them in the comments, but I’m always a sucker for The Princess Bride and Eliot daring Hardison to say pitchy one more time and then grumbling “I don’t even think that word means what you think it means” will make me smile for days. Nate’s “I love it when a plan comes together” is the perfect homage to Leverage‘s grandfather show The A-Team and Eliot’s smurf voice is irresistible.

The third season of Leverage is shaping up to be a great one with wonderful guest stars: Schneider is deliciously slimy here while Tal is sweetly sexy and next week-Clancy Brown, baby, but I’m even happier that the core cast is getting a real chance to shine. Eliot has been moping about his hitting role lately and “The Studio Job” gives both him and Kane a chance to stretch. That it is so funny is just a bonus.

(Photos: Courtesy of TNT)