Summer Series: Burn Notice

Finally saw the first season of Burn Notice.

What is Burn Notice? Here’s the official synopsis.

When spies get fired, they don’t get a letter from human resources.

They get BURNED…

This summer, USA Network presents the third season of Burn Notice, a sexy, action-packed original series starring Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, a blacklisted spy. After coming face to face with the group of people that burned him, Michael must figure out his next move. All while staying ahead of anyone else that may have him in their crosshairs. In the meantime, he continues to use his unique skills and training to help people in desperate need of assistance.

Burn Notice also stars Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona, a beautiful ex-IRA operative who happens to be Westen’s ex-girlfriend. Bruce CampbellSam, Michael’s closest buddy in town. Sam is a washed up military intelligence contact who is an expert in tactical analysis, cutting through red tape, and finding the quickest route to a cold Mojito. Also starring is Emmy® Award-winner Sharon Gless as Madeline, Michael’s hypochondriac mother, who couldn’t be happier to have her boy back in town .

Created and written by Matt Nix.
I like Michael Westen’s character. Very charismactic, good timing on line delivery and facial expressions. There is a lot of pain and uncertainty in his personal life, tempered by his confidence and assurance in his profession. He is very adept at the spycraft, well-trained in the technical, physical and mental aspects of it. He also has a weird obsession with yogurt.

People with happy families don’t become spies. A bad childhood is the perfect background for covert ops. You don’t trust anyone. You’re used to being smacked around and you never get homesick.”

So, yeah, Michael had an awful childhood. Bad father, rather absent mother and he had to be the one to take care of his mom and younger brother. He left as soon as he could and was soon working as a freelance covert operative. As for secondary characters, his brother is a dead-beat, but by the end of the season there is hope for him. The mom annoys me extremely. She is a hypochondriac and whines constantly about everything. Sam? Well, I am still ambivalent about Sam. And Fiona amuses me. The filming is strange, with a weird stop, pause, go thing every couple minutes (maybe near the commercials when it is on tv?) that really annoyed me. And there a lot of stock images of “Miami,” beach scenes and nightclubs that do nothing more than supposedly give the atmosphere of Miami, which they do just fine on without adding those in. And they are practically the same clips every week anyhow.

Interesting side-note. Jeffrey Donovan played Kyle, Jared’s younger brother in The Pretender. So, it was awesome to see him again in a role where I like his character. And Michael’s weekly “mission,” which usually involves helping someone out, reminds me a lot of Jared’s weekly crusades to help the poor and abused, those taken advantage of and wrongly persecuted.  Probably only fascinating to me. I like to imagine Kyle somehow survived…

Looking forward to seeing seasons 2 and 3. It was renewed for a fourth season of sixteen episodes in 2010. Currently the summer session just ended, with the winter back-half coming up in a few months.

Content advisory: Unlike most of USA’s less mature content shows, like Monk and Psych, Burn Notice is not appropriate for younger viewers. Teens, 15 and up or so. There is drugs, swearing, lots of violence and action, some sensuality, plenty of innuendo for secondary characters, and plenty of shady ethics in general. After all, most of the characters operate outside of the law, like gunrunners and money launderers. You’ve been warned.

Update: October 3, 2009

Saw Season Two on 1 Oct. Michael continues to be a favorite with his wry, cavalier attitude, while the family members become far less grating. Still, not as much backstory as I expected.  My favorite episodes were “Comrades,” “Rough Seas,” “Do No Harm,” end of “Sins of Omission” and “Lesser Evil.” The bright spot of the season for me was seeing Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1) play the role of would-be assassin Victor. Excellent casting.  Sam really grew on me, while I feel like Fiona needs to grow more as a charcater. I like Michael’s asides throughout each episode. They are the most humorous. Content advisory is the same as before.

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