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the heists and heroes of summer

3 min

No recording of reality tv thoughts today because I’m too caught up in deciding how I feel about Erika Jayne and this season of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. But I’ve been watching plenty of other tv in the meantime, so some other things I’ve been watching:

I’ve watched two tv shows in the past month that have made me very happy even when they’re not great. The first is Leverage: Redemption, which is IMDbTV’s new season of Leverage. Leverage was a 2008 show that served all the recession schadenfreude you could hope for in five seasons of heists. Each episode serves up a well-plotted con meant to take down some person who has abused their power, and if that was a necessary feeling (however fictional) during the bank bailouts, it hits even harder now.

I’ve been excited for Leverage: Redemption because I have rewatched every episode of Leverage roughly 50 times and needed some new episodes to throw into the mix. The season is short and introduces new characters who take over for some old ones, while also moving to New Orleans. It’s also, to be clear, weaker than the original series. The plots aren’t quite as tight, and the moments of earned surprise that the original series managed to churn out on a constant basis don’t land with quite the same impact. But it’s also a ton of fun. The introduction of new cast members in particular does a lot to revisit the true core of Leverage—its charming characters and their little self-made family of crime.

In the first iteration of the show, we watched a group of supposedly non-team players turn into each other emotional support partners-in-crime. In this iteration, we watch them continue to do that while bringing in new people whose motivations and skills bring new dimensions to the relationships in the show. Is it cheesy? A little. But who cares when three seconds later, someone’s probably going to steal a painting?

Titans, a superhero show on HBOMax based on Teen Titans, has basically the same found family feel through the whole show. It constantly explores the ways that family fucks you up, and also the ways that family saves you. Some families are biological, some are not. All of them feel found, like we’re watching characters continually cycle through what it means for them to take care of each other.

None of this is subtle in the show. In the first season, we watch a murder-y family of assassins play perversely at domesticity and family road trips as they hunt down the heroes who are just beginning to find each other. And the show revolves heavily around Dick Grayson’s attempt to find his way through the life of crime-fighting his “father” (aka Batman) raised him for. There’s a lot of daddy issues in this show. And mommy issues. Even a few sibling issues.

I binged this show after seeing the trailer for the third season, which comes out in August. And when I decided to look it up, I found a lot of complaints about the plot and the characters throughout both of the two seasons of the show. The main complaints (as far as I’ve seen) seem to be that the show has too many characters and side-plots, and that some aspects of Batman’s characterization are not appealing to lifelong fans of Batman.

It’s not that I necessarily think these complaints are wrong. It’s more than I can’t judge whether they’re right or wrong because I love the show in the form it’s currently in. Maybe it helps that I’m not a lifelong fan of Batman, nor do I have enough knowledge of the Teen Titans to feel loss over what the show could be based on whatever comic book storylines aren’t being explored. It probably also helps that some of these characters are new to me, so it’s fun to learn more about them.

That’s not to say that I don’t feel like there are weaknesses in the show. There are plenty of times when the writing doesn’t make sense, especially whenever characters decide to separate despite the sense of imminent doom facing them. It’s also one of those grim dark, excessively violent kind of shows. At times, the show feels downright cynical, which is not a thing I love in my superhero shows. But there is, to me at least, something really uncynical about the family the heroes form with each other, and I think that’s why I don’t care if the other stuff doesn’t make any sense. This one very important part of it does, and apparently that’s enough.

Stuff I’ve Made Recently

This episode about why microscopists sometimes dip their lenses in oil was a ton of fun to work on, and our producer did an amazing job with the animations to help make the optics clearer.

Things are little bit slow right now, but that’s just because I’ve got some stuff coming up soon that I’ve been working on and am really excited about, more on that next time!


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