Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Art of the Con - Three Shows that Do It Well

So, if you’ve hung around the blog long enough, you know I am a huge fan of con and heist shows (and movies…still need to see Ocean’s 8). I thought I’d take a look back at some of the con and heist shows that I’ve enjoyed and break down what they do well and why I love them.


I covered the first season in recaps a few years ago and I’ve since re-watched most of the show on DVD several times over (I enjoy listening to the commentary from the producers and writers. It is just fascinating to hear how they come up with certain ideas and find locations). If you aren’t familiar with the premise (well you’ve been living under a rock), it follows a group of thieves, hackers, and grifters as they work to take down bigger bad guys. Think of them like Robin Hood in the modern age.

Over the course of the five seasons that the show ran, we not only got to know these characters extremely well, but we got to see them progress and grow as people and expand their skillsets until the end where the baton is passed. I primarily got into this show because of Christian Kane (who I adored from his days on “Angel”). But, I stayed for the team dynamic, great acting and fun cons.

I think my favorite part of the show, besides seeing the cons play out, was at the end of each episode where they reveal how everything was in fact a con and how it all was laid out. It fills the viewer in a little on how they pulled it off and I find that aspect of it all really satisfying. I guess I’m just curious to know how it all works. That was probably why I enjoyed the first Ocean’s move so much, too.


This was a mid-season show this past season which sadly only lasted 13 episodes before getting the ax. And right when things were really taking a turn for the crazy and interesting. Deception fell into the “quirky consultant to the police” procedural niche where you’d expect to find shows like “White Collar” or “Castle”. The lead protagonist, Cameron Black, is a disgraced magician (because the world discovered he had a twin brother (Jonathan) he used in his act who got arrested for murder). The premise of the show was Cam working with the FBI to prove his brother was framed and free him. Unfortunately, by the end, Cam was the one behind bars while his brother walked free and no one was the wiser. I wanted to see what happened next but alas, it is not to be because the network decided to cancel it.

Similar to what I enjoyed in “Leverage”, I liked seeing the magic that Cam and his team used in their deceptions as well as unraveling the mystery behind the magic. It was a fun, for the most part light-hearted show and the cast of characters was interesting and very watchable. There was still so much I needed to know about these characters. I would have loved some flashbacks to before the start of the show to see Cam and Johnny working out their acts and why they decided to continue performing as if they were one person even though their dad was a big jerk. I got into it because the lead actor (who is a newcomer to my TV screen and to acting in general) was so charming and cute. Why do the Brits have to be so damn adorable! I think this show hurts the most because it still had a long way to go with its story and we will never see what happens to Cam and his team.

Sneaky Pete

“Sneaky Peter” is an Amazon Prime original series which is much darker in comparison to the other shows mentioned in this post. And that’s primarily due to the fact it is on a streaming platform and can afford to be more graphic and violent (and foul-mouthed). It follows the story of Marius, a con man who gets out of jail and assumes his cellmate’s identity to avoid a powerful man from his past from coming after him. He ends up landing with his cellmate’s bail bonds owning family and all sorts of shenanigans ensue.

What I liked about this show was that they had multiple layers and levels of cons going on. And none of the characters were strictly good or bad. They had shades of grey (and not the creepy BDSM kind). Despite some of the flaws, you were rooting for most of the characters (well okay, maybe not Brian Cranston’s character, he was kind of an epic tool). I also liked some of the bit players we got to see throughout the seasons. They’d pop up occasionally when Marius needed them and it reminded me of when the Leverage crew teamed up with some of their adversaries in season 4 finale.

The show really felt like it was more of a mature “Leverage” throughout its two seasons and I am really hoping we get a third season (though from what I’ve read it’s not very profitable for Amazon so they may be cutting it from their roster). I also liked that with this show, you never quite knew who to trust and what was going to happen. And they weren’t afraid to kill or hurt people. I also found it kind of funny that we actually got to meet and interact with the real Pete in season 2, along with his mom. Maybe say a small prayer that we will get another season because Marius and company aren’t done yet!

If you want to check out any of these shows (and I highly recommend you watch all of them), Sneaky Pete is available if you are an Amazon Prime member. White Collar is still on Netflix last I checked and ABC should have all of Deception up on their website or mobile app. Happy viewing!