24/10/2012

CBBC's Leonardo gets serious in season 2

Leonardo season 2 Episodes 3 -6
After the opening 2 parter suggested that Leonardo was going to continue at the same level as the first series, a drop in form across the next three raises some doubts before episode 6 sees a dramatic return to form with one of the series' best episodes yet. `Dragon Hunt` gets down to business with some intent. Conned into helping a stranger track down a golden dragon, Leonardo is led outside the city and into trouble while the injured Duke of Florence is brought to the Medici house.
Both plots are terrific; the latter simmers with tension as it becomes apparent that Pierro De Medici himself ordered the Duke’s death and we see him finish the job with a phial of poison. James Clyde is in malevolent mood here, lingering on the brink of clich├ęd villainy but pulling back to become genuinely spine tingling for the younger viewers. The episode is also a showcase for Jonathan Bailey who is on bristling, energetic form as he follows the clues to the location of the treasure. Writer Daniel Peak shows how the series can work a treat and be both fast moving and intelligent.
The season needed an episode of this excellence after three below par though enjoyable enough escapades, the one thing about the show you can guarantee are strong production values. It’s just that episode 3-5 have somewhat weaker plots.  Episode 3`The Betrothal Ball` follows what seems to be one of the season’s main plots with Lorenzo’s engagement to a princess. It is lighter in tone and because it’s a masked ball held in honour of the occasion contains hi jinks involving mistaken identity. The ongoing love triangle- if it is indeed strong enough to be a triangle- surfaces here but nobody says how they feel and the staging of things is a bit random. It is also too obvious the ball only has a dozen or so attendees.  Pierro de Medici has the princess kidnapped seemingly knowing Leonardo will rescue her but there is little urgency to the episode. That said, Colin Ryan breezes through with a great comedic performance.
The others fail to notice Leonardo is shrinking
 `Cat and Mouse` centres on Lorenzo being befriended by a conman of Mack’s acquaintance called Bruno. Despite Mack’s warnings, Lorenzo maintains the friendship until he gets into trouble. What is more puzzling is a sub plot involving Leonardo’s painting of Lisa being sold which he seems very angry about even though we’re told he’s done many versions of it. Are we supposed to take this as meaning he really does care for her? The script doesn’t explain so we are none the wiser really.
Lorenzo’s betrothal is an odd sort of ongoing plot which made for a funny episode once but makes little sense as it goes on. For one thing, the girl gets hardly anything to say, secondly she looks attractive enough for someone of Lorenzo’s age to be interested. In `Diabolical Acts`, the main plot is also semi comedic even if it continues to tease at Lisa’s unrequited – and indeed unacknowledged- love for Leonardo.

An attempt to steal a jewel from underneath a stage as people are watching a play just seems like the sort of thing even 10 year olds would scoff at. Mind you the unlikely scenario does give both Jonathan Bailey and Flora Spencer Longhurst the chance to play out of character and their on stage caricatures are the most amusing bits of an otherwise drawn out episode.
 

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