Thursday, July 10, 2008

What I'll Be Watching In A Few Hours

New season of Burn Notice starts tonight

Oh, Burn Notice. So silly. So predictable. So much fun.

BN debuted last summer on USA with a simple premise: James Bond gets fired. He lives in Miami. And...well, that's pretty much it.

Jeffrey Donovan, who you might know from his inspired work on Blair Witch 2: The Book of Shadows, plays Michael Weston, a spy for the US government. And if there's any justice on the internet, someone will start up a "Michael Weston Facts" page to rival the Chuck Norris version.

Weston's a ripped, stolid combination of Bond and MacGuyver, with a few of David Caruso's sunglass mannerisms thrown in for good measure. He grins, he does shirtless sit-ups, he assembles laser-guided nuclear torpedoes out of an iPod and a McDonald's wrapper. He does it all in an effort to find out why the government fired (or "burned") him. Oh, and he also runs an informal private detective agency that solves problems for the good people of Miami.

If you're reading this and saying to yourself, "Wow, that sounds stupid," well, you're not far wrong. It's a remarkably predictable show: Weston takes a step toward finding out who burned him. A poor schlub approaches him and begs for help. Michael says, "I'll look into it" and puts on his stylish sunglasses. He looks into it. It's more complicated than originally thought. Michael hatches a plan which involves improvised explosives and homemade listening devices. The plan goes off with few people being killed. The episode ends with Weston coming across a new piece of evidence in the burn notice arc.

There's very little real tension; Weston's too much of a badass for us to ever be convinced that he's in any danger. They play these annoying Miami montages before every new scene, as if we just can't quite believe that the show is based in south Florida without several scenes of bikini-clad women and sailboats.

Plus, the creative team has been desperately trying to make co-star Gabrielle Anwar (remember her from Scent of a Woman?) into the show's sex appeal. Since her body is obviously filled with more botulinum toxin than...well, a botulism victim, that's been a rather miserable failure.

But it's just so cool.

Donovan's great. Bruce Campbell, who plays Michael's best friend Sam, does his usual admirable work. The highlight of the show is Michael's running monologue; it's been said that the voiceover is a lazy writer's tool, but it just works here, likely thanks to the surprisingly chippy writing.

The second season premieres tonight.

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