Burn Notice (***½)

Posted on March 4th, 2009 in Commentary,Television by EngineerBoy

Burned, Baby, Burned

We discovered Burn Notice a couple of weeks ago and really fell in love with it, and have now watched all episodes from Season 1 and Season 2.  There are very few prime-time shows that we watch with any regularity – and even those few have fallen by the wayside as we’ve been watching nothing but Burn Notice whenever we get a chance.

The main character is Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan), and when the series starts he’s a spy in the employ of the US government, but in the middle of a treacherous deal they basically cut him off and leave him out in the cold – someone put out a “burn notice” on him, meaning cut all ties, shred all records, freeze all accounts, and just let him go.

Burn notices are usually only put out on people who have either screwed up royally or who have been found to be untrustworthy.  Michael is neither and so starts a quest to find out who put out a trumped-up burn notice on him and why.  He has to take odd-jobs as a problem-solver in order to make ends meet, and he has the help of his ex-girlfriend, Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar), and by a buddy who is a “retired” FBI agent (played by the man, the myth, the legend – Mr. Bruce Campbell).

Michael also has to deal with his mother (played by Sharon Gless, who you may remember as Cagney from Cagney & Lacy) and his dysfunctional family relationships.  The series does a nice job of weaving Michael’s personal drama and professional challenges into cohesive stories.

The series also does a good job of not dumbing down the storylines, and not taking the easy way out when it comes to dealing with technology, weapons, combat, and spy tactics.  It’s not “realistic” or it wouldn’t be engaging television, but it’s not as insulting, dismissive, and/or lazy as some other shows of this type that we’ve seen.

The dialog is sharply written and witty, the production values are slick and high-gloss, the acting is great all-around, and Bruce Campbell is in the role he was born to play – a retired, boozy, tanned, aging lothario who still has the moves and connections, but wants to do nothing more than sit in the sun drinking mojitos (that somebody else buys).

We heard about this series when it premiered last year, but the fact that it was on the USA Network made us suspicious.  Well, we were wrong.  The series is great and we love it.  Our only problem is now we want to vacation in Miami…not necessarily the real Miami, but the version of Miami that Michael is trapped in.

And we also crave yogurt.

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