Grifter vs. grifter
Published: December 21, 2011
Leverage (8pm Sunday, TNT)
Leverage is Mission: Impossible with a sense of humor about itself. In every episode, Timothy Hutton’s gang of thieves and hackers pull off a difficult task to help some underdog. They also pull off the difficult task of entertaining us, making it look easy.
The gang members are crooks with hearts of gold. The show’s producers get credit for being good guys, too, since they offer a rare new episode amid all the repeats of Christmas week.
If you thought one group of con artists was fun, try two. Our heroes must foil a black widow named Meredith, who’s orchestrating an elaborate grift on wealthy bachelors with a female crew. Hutton’s Nate has to make her think she’s getting the better of him while slyly getting the better of her.
“As good as you are, you’re not nearly as good as you think you are,” Meredith tells him.
Well, yes he is. Nate cons her out of business, making her regret that she ever met him.
He also cons us out of another hour of our time, but we don’t regret it in the slightest.
Shrek the Halls (7pm Friday, ABC)
This 2007 TV cartoon is on the way to becoming a holiday classic, and rightly so. It doesn’t settle for bargain-basement voice work, but features the brilliant stars of the Shrek movies: Mike Myers as the gloomy ogre, Cameron Diaz as his wife, Eddie Murphy as the overzealous donkey, and Antonio Banderas as the suave Puss in Boots. While much of the TV world will focus on “the perfect Christmas” this week, Shrek the Halls wallows in imperfection. Shrek wants everything to go just right, but he is a swamp monster, after all. That means he hangs dirty laundry instead of stockings and grotesque rodents instead of ornaments. Things get even worse when Donkey, Puss, and the other fairytale characters show up for the festivities. Brace yourself for a night of farts, burps, and bizarre behavior by the extended family.
In other words, it’s a very human Christmas. Shrek the Halls makes the imperfection charming and funny, and there’s a lesson in that for all of us. It gives you a warm feeling inside when Shrek ends the program with his own version of The Night Before Christmas: “Smelly Christmas to all, and to all a gross night!”
Love Games: Bad Girls Need Love Too (9pm Monday, Oxygen)
Love Games finds the worst women on reality TV — quite a challenge nowadays — and pairs them with equally awful men in a dating competition. Myself, I prefer dates who don’t shriek, fight, and reveal things like: “On the inside I’m like a ticking time bomb!” But apparently some guys go for that type. As you might imagine, they’re guys who are capable of saying some very unromantic things themselves. “You got to put them in their place right off the bat!”