Monday, July 07, 2008

FanBoyWonder Television Spotlight—The Return of Burn Notice

It’s been a long damn time in coming but FanBoyWonder is pleased to announce the arrival this Thursday of the second season of our favorite summer show—Burn Notice on the USA Cable Network.

From the moment we spied it (pun intended) last summer, we knew that Burn Notice would not only be one of the best shows of the summer television season but we quickly came to regard the show as some of the most original and innovative television to come along in a long time.

Great characters, clever writing and the right amount of action—the trifecta right there.

Here’s Upshot on Burn Notice from the show’s Facebook page (swear to God)

Most people would be thrilled to be on the warm, beautiful sands of South Beach. However, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is not ‘most people.’ He's got a pesky FBI tail, a violence prone ex-girlfriend looking for closure, and a hypochondriac mother calling him 30 times a day. Yet these are the least of his problems.

“After 10 years of serving his country working in Eastern Europe and the OPEC countries as a covert operative, Michael is living every spy's worst nightmare. While in the middle of a dangerous mission in Nigeria, Michael's "contact" informs him that he has been burned. When a spy gets fired, he doesn't get a call from human resources and a gold watch. In Michael's case, they jeopardize his life, freeze his bank accounts, dump him in Miami, and flag him on every government list known to man. They can't take away his skills or what's in his head, so they take away his assets and his resources to make sure he can never work again. They burn him

“Now Michael has a much different mission: he must find out who issued his burn notice and why he was blacklisted so that he can put his life back together. Meanwhile, he has to fend off a suddenly hostile world of old foes gunning for him. In order to survive in Miami and fund his own personal investigation, Michael enlists the help of the only two ‘friends’ he has: Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) an ex-IRA operative who also happens to be an ex-girlfriend and Sam (Bruce Campbell) a washed-out military intelligence contact whom the feds have keeping an eye on Michael. He's also forced to deal with the family he went halfway around the world to get away from - particularly his mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless), who couldn't be happier to have her son back in town.

“Michael, on the other hand, is happiest when he is in a different hemisphere from the rest of his family. He was 17 when he left home to join the military and he never turned back. Now stuck in Miami, the one place he vowed never to return to, he must confront the bad memories of his childhood and repair the broken relationships he left behind.

“As he gets closer to the truth, Michael scrapes by helping out whoever needs his services -- mostly desperate people who can't go to the police. Using his Special Ops training, some duct tape and his sardonic humor, Michael becomes a reluctant hero. It's a dangerous gig, but it's the best he can do ... for now.”

From what we saw last season, Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael Westen has serious (if not yet totally fulfilled) potential as one of THE great television characters.

Westen is a cross between 007’s James Bond and Chevy Chase’s Fletch with a healthy dose of MacGyver thrown in for good measure. Throughout each episode Donovan’s sardonic narration conveyed just the right comic bite to what could have been some pretty dark moments.

“Covert intelligence includes a lot of waiting around. Know what it’s like being a spy? It’s like sitting in your dentist’s reception area 24 hours a day—magazines, sip some coffee and every so often, someone tries to kill you.”

When we last left Michael Westen, he was about to meet with the folks who had “burned” him and we’ve been waiting all summer to see what that meeting would entail.

Word has it that the new character thrown into the mix would be Michael’s new handler “Carla” played by Battlestar Galatica’s Tricia Helfer.

Her background is a mystery, her motives are unclear, and Michael's not even sure who she works for. All he knows is that she's a lethal combination of brains and beauty. Carla is Michael's only link to the people that burned him, and if Michael ever hopes to get his life back... he needs to find out more about her,” explains the USA Network.

That’s all we have to go on as we get to know this new character. For our part, we’re glad that Michael will have—instead of the faceless covert bogeyman on the cell phone—he’ll be dealing with his adversary face to face.

A couple points we hope to see the Burn Notice team improve upon this season include more air time for Sharon Gless as Michael’s mother Madeline who didn’t have much to do last season except be a hostage Michael had to protect.

We’re not all that crazy about Michael’s deadbeat brother Nate (Seth Peterson) who does nothing but screw up and put Michael in harm’s way but we’re willing to give the writers another chance to make us like the guy.

The one big flaw from last season was the A-plot/B-plot format of the show whereas Michael would do an “Equalizer”-like job for someone in need while the B-plot would continue to (all too slowly ) unravel the mystery of Michael’s burn notice.

The thing is, if we liked Michael’s clients that week, we were glued to the TV for the episode but if we didn’t care for those who needed his help, it could be a long hour.

While we do like Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael’s trigger-happy ex-girlfriend, we really love Michael’s buddy Sam played by the awesome Bruce Campbell. Sam surprised us by evolving into someone with a lot more iron as the season progressed.

Sam may be a washed up drinking gigolo but he can still kick ass and he is (mostly) loyal to his pal Michael. Yet Sam’s best scenes come when he is tamed up with Fiona who have grown to tolerate, if not grudgingly respect each other, for the sake of Michael—think of them of the George and Elaine of the cover ops ass-kickers.

Burn Notice will air throughout the summer on Thursday at 10 p.m. (eastern) on the USA Network. The Season One DVD is in stores now and you find out more from the official website It’s worth checking out.


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