TNT sends in the clowns and the cops Wednesday night. Lighthearted Leverage starts its second season and upstages grim newcomer Dark Blue. This time around, jokers trump kings.
Rating: Four stars
Time slot: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Setup: Con artists make like Robin Hood's band and help the downtrodden by scamming corrupt muckety-mucks. Even so, Nate Ford ( Timothy Hutton) broods about leading the team.
Standout: Gina Bellman as a grifter and maligned actress. She plays Maria in a Sound of Music so bad that a critic says he was rooting for the Nazis.
Results: Nate's doubts ease predictably, thank goodness, so the team can plunge into a timely thriller about a bank bailout and the mob. In Leverage, doing right -- the underhanded way -- continues to give pleasure.
Rating: Two stars
Time slot: 10 p.m. Wednesday
Setup: Undercover L.A. cops work in a violent, confounding manner that echoes executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer's slick action movies. Dylan McDermott plays a stoic boss, Carter Shaw, monotonously.
Standout: Logan Marshall-Green as Dean Bendis, whose allegiances keep fellow cops and viewers guessing. His shady streak adds some oomph to a tired show.
Results: This flashily photographed drama lacks the power of Bruckeimer's best (CSI, Without a Trace). Why do these supposedly good guys act so foolishly? And why is the show so punishing?