By Dean Robbins
‘Leverage’ steals an election
TNT’s “Leverage” is a funnier “Mission: Impossible,” in which Timothy Hutton’s merry band of thieves, con artists and hackers set up elaborate stings to thwart that week’s bad guy. The series makes expert use of cheesy accents, stagy disguises and unlikely gizmos, not to mention wisecracks at the tensest moments.
In the latest episode (Sunday, 9 p.m.), the team members bluff their way into an island nation’s presidential election as campaign consultants, hoping to vanquish the moneyman behind the corrupt government. It’s as enjoyable as ever to watch the con’s setup and execution, but the plot also allows for incisive political satire. Hutton and company show how easy it is to steal an election, American-style. You simply find a mannequin who looks the part of a politician, teach him the requisite clichés, produce a few scurrilous ads, trump up a scandal against your opponent, and voilà — it’s the 2010 midterm election all over again.
If only subverting democracy were this fun in real life.
‘Price of Admission: America’s College Debt Crisis’
Tuesday, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
CNBC investigates families’ struggle with college costs, which are rising at twice the rate of inflation. The report finds that the average college student graduates with tens of thousands in student-loan debt — a debt that can’t be refinanced or wiped out by bankruptcy.
Thanks, CNBC, for bumming us out right before Christmas. It’s gonna take at least three viewings of “It’s a Wonderful Life” to get ourselves back in the proper holiday mood. CV