The new fall pilots don't excite me very much, what with all of the cops, doctors and lawyers. But I know networks, and original ideas aren't exactly the "in" thing.
So, why can't we design some spin-offs? You know, the networks might go for some ideas based on hit shows, and we can make them a little bit unique, right? Let's add in some elements that excite us to some familiar characters and see if we can't create some new spin-off pilots better than the actual ones.
Michael Westen with money troubles? Boy, now you really know how bad the economy is when a burned super spy has to dig up a job to keep himself in Armani suits. Actually, I thought it was a refreshing change of pace that Michael actively pursued an assignment rather than just wait for somebody to come along -- to Sam or Madeline or Fiona -- who needs help that seemingly only Michael can provide.
What was weird is that for much of the episode, the case was much less important than the subtext between Fiona and Michael. This is an interesting development and so different from other classic TV pairings. Watching Fiona and Michael you don't wonder if they'll ever do it, because they've done it. No, you wonder what the heck does it mean and how do they deal with the emotions stirred up by Fiona's near death and Michael's reaction to possibly losing her?
(S02E11) "The one who burned you is closer than you think." -- Fiona
A year ago, the idea of anybody doing anything for a pair of 50-yard line tickets to watch the Miami Dolphins play football would have been a joke. Fortunately for Burn Notice, the Fins won the AFC East and are relevant again. Therefore, Sam's Good Samaritan act -- which got a major boost when Fiona got involved -- had a decent payoff, beyond the idea of them doing something nice for a friend.
Were you thinking Men in Black when you saw Fiona, Sam and Michael in their uniform black suits complete with sunglasses and heavy weaponry? They really do find a way to make the three of them seem like a much more formidable force. Even more than the old Mission: Impossible team, Michael, Fiona and Sam are like the IMF trio deluxe, with each of them more than able to handle adversity. More on that adversity after the jump.
Well, if you think Michael was ticked off about being burned, you should take his temperature after there's an attempt on his life. This episode, which picked up right after a bomb went off in Michael's loft doorway, had a little bit of everything that makes Burn Notice one of the best shows on TV. In short, it was great to have it back on the schedule. And yes, there was little doubt that Michael would survive the blast. It's good to see the Charger and the loft did, too.
Michael has a lot of reasons to be bent out of shape. Carla's still yanking him around and now she's involved his family by having Nate arrested. In one of the few times I can remember on the show, he really lost his cool when he screamed at her, "I want my brother out of jail. I want my life back!" Carla got the message.
Luckily none of those things are a problem in the first Burn Notice tie-in novel, The Fix. It's written by Tod Goldberg, author the the novels Fake Liar Cheat, Living Dead Girl, and the short story collection Simplify, and it's his first journey into the world of TV show tie-ins. It's quite good. Fans will be pleased and it works as a separate little adventure as well.
The kit, which contains 12 episodes of the show on four DVDs, is set up to look like a classified file, and though some of the words are legible, you need the flashlight to read the others. Very cool and very spy-ish, though I wonder if they should have done it a different way. Isn't the preferred method of getting secret messages to Michael via a crossword puzzle? They should have included a secret message about the show inside of a crossword too.
(S02E05) "Sammy's gettin' some hammy tonight." - Sam Axe
How great was it seeing Michael and Fi still sitting in that car? I like to imagine that they were sitting there for an entire week while we waited for the new episode.
Not that I didn't enjoy Michael's how-to on exposing covert security but I feel bad for the delivery guy. As if it isn't bad enough to get to the delivery and realize you've been pranked, this poor guy is also going to get the crap beaten out of him. No wonder Michael helps everyone he meets. He has a lot of bad karma to make up for.
Nancy Franklin is often good in her analysis of a TV show or a TV genre, but she seems to have gotten tired of Burn Notice already. While she likes the Miami location and loves Bruce Campbell (deservedly so), she thinks the show is already getting tired. She's not buying the tension between Michael and Fiona, and she thinks the mom/Michael stuff is just too much. She also compares Jeffrey Donovan to Frank Gorshin's Riddler from Batman, which isn't fair (she also gets a fact wrong - Sam is not secretly reporting on Michael to the government, Michael knows about it).
Fortunately for me, I've had the chance to catch up. I even got to visit the set. The USA Network rebroadcasts and occasional marathons have helped -- hooray for DVRs -- but I really think it was the Burn Notice Season One DVD set that filled in all the blanks. Reasonably priced and recently released, the set has become one of my favorites, as had the tale of Michael Westen, professional spy who has been inexplicably fired -- burned -- and dumped in Miami. There's a lot to like in this show, and in this DVD set.
(S02E01) Man, it's been a long time since last season. I remembered very little of what they showed in the recap and after being reminded, I was hungry for the new season.
It occurs to me as I'm watching this episode that Michael Westen is a less philanthropic MacGyver. He knows a lot of tricks that will help you in sticky situations but he's smart enough to keep most of them to himself. I, personally, have never had to run from the police but if I ever do, I now know the best way to stop the airbags from going off.
Just in time for tonight's second season premiere of Burn Notice comes this little piece of news from the studios at NBC.
Two guys on the staff of Late Night with Conan O'Brien are so ticked off at the ads for the USA show (USA is part of the NBC Universal family) that appear in the building that they decided to deface them. The insults range from dialogue bubbles that say "It 'Burns' when I pee" and "Thanks for the 'Notice' " to this entry on the Late Night blog where the staffers complain about the ads and explain their actions. It is kinda funny how many of these ads NBC puts in their own building.
Of course, the blog entry isn't all bad and acts as a nudge-nudge wink-wink push for the show. Despite the graffiti, the Late Night guys do say that the show is "awesome," "smart," and "funny," and they even want to make sure you watch the show tonight. (And I'd like to repeat that too - watch Burn Notice tonight at 10 on USA!)
I discovered that as brilliant as she is a performer, Sharon Gless is also a class act with the media. She talked about another Cagney & Lacey, Tyne Daly, acting, playing villains, Kim Cattrall and much more. Read on and you'll see -- as I did -- why you'd gush to if you were face-to-face with Sharon Gless.
Miami in June is hot. Very hot. On the set of Burn Notice, however, everything is cool. In fact, when I arrive at the Coconut Grove studios where the USA spy drama is shot, I find myself smack dab in the middle of a full-fledged film studio.
The old convention center, where I remember going to an indoor flea market in the late 1970s, has been completely transformed. There are trailers, production offices, standing sets, all geared up and working to bring Burn Notice back for season two.
Here's one of those wonderful actors, the irreverent and brilliant Bruce Campbell. As Sam, Jeffrey's old friend -- and sometime nemesis -- from the spy wars, Campbell is having a ball filming in South Florida and stealing scenes like nobody's business. Oh, and he smells good, just like Old Spice.
Q: What is the character of Sam about?
Bruce Campbell: He's about 50. No, he's like the other characters in the show, damaged goods, which is why I like him.
Burn Notice is great summer fare: a series that doesn't exactly break new ground but is still fun to watch. USA's motivation in picking new shows has been to focus on strong characters, and that's exactly what keeps Burn Notice from being just another crime/detective/mystery series (even though it is just another crime/detective/mystery series). It's also what keeps me tuning into Monk after all these years, even though every episode is pretty much the same. The lead players, Jeffrey Donovan, Sharon Gless, Bruce Campbell and Gabrielle Anwar, work well within the sometimes cookie-cutter self-contained plots, elevating the series to something worth checking out each week. It's not the plots so much, it's the people.
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