***IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED LEVERAGE, THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!***
I love you, and Kung Fu monkey is one of my favorites, AND leverage is a quality show shot on the Red, which I respect. I qualify those statements to say this.
Leverage is a poor man's Hustle. Hustle is a British show that aired on AMC for four seasons dealing with a group of "scrupulous" thieves who steal from degenerate human beings. Except instead of giving it back, they keep it to fund their operations. It's one of my favorite shows of all time, canceled before it's time. (*correction: Hustle will air a fifth season on AMC starting in January)
Here is my major concern. There's no real conflict except for the A story. If you look at shows that work about do-gooders, they always have a crux. In A Team, the team was always being chased, fearing for their lives...not that BA feared anything. In Hustle, the fear was not having enough money to continue. In Burn Notice, the fear is not being able to solve the case of who burned him.
However, there is not that conflict in Leverage. In the first episode, the "team" gets a windfall of money, enough to retire on. However, in the end, they decide helping the good guys was too much to fun to pass up on. They all want Nathan, Timothy Hutton, to lead them into helping the good guys.
They no longer have to worry about being caught, or needing money, or any of those things that drive other shows. Their initial conflict about who set them up in the pilot was resolved by the end of the pilot.
While it is easy to say the A story is compelling enough to watch, which it is, there is no urgency in the group for a bigger purpose. And, for me, that makes it a watered down Hustle. On a side note, Jaime Murray, we hardly knew ye on Valentine. I wanted to watch it just for you, but I couldn't do it.
As for John Rogers, I read the blog, I know what you've done, and I respect the hell out of it. As far as a show goes, I'll keep watching.