TV Review: Burn Notice - Season 2

By Steve West 2008-07-04 14:16:22 discussion comments
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Burn Notice - Season 2
Starring: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Sharon Gless, Bruce Campbell
Created By: Matt Nix
Premieres: Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 10:00 pm EST on USA Network

Burn Notice, the slick and funny Miami Vice meets MacGuyver story about a spy forced to make ends meet by helping common people in extraordinary circumstances, is set to return on July 10. The nine new episodes (the remaining episodes will air next year, thanks writers strike!) are a direct return to form. Fans of the series will be pleased to hear that the first couple of episodes feature Michael Westin (Jeffrey Donovan) using his same sly style and sarcasm to help out some folks all while working on discovering who is now pulling his strings. Westin has been terminated from his position at the CIA with the help of a ďburn notice,Ē termination without explanation. Dumped in his hometown of Miami the former spy now uses all of his skills and training to work as a private eye and discover who burned him and why. Even if you havenít caught up with season one Burn Notice is the type of show you can jump right into. Itís not a serialized show, and like House over on Fox you can watch each episode independently of the whole series and still enjoy it just as much.

The premise that a spy would use his training to work as a private eye gives Burn Notice a vaguely noirish feel. Donovanís Westin gives authoritative voiceovers explaining the best way to approach a situation. But it never feels like youíre being instructed on how to make a bomb, or rig a booby trap. The show does a great job of using homemade spy gadgetry to move the characters and story along. Speaking of which, all the old friends are back. Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) returns in all of her extra toned and explosive loving fashion. Sam (Bruce Campbell) is the lumpy and womanizing spy friend who really is a lot more capable than he looks. Best of all Sharon Gless returns as Westinís mom only to demand he fixes her coffee maker.

There is a brand spanking new character that Battlestar Galactica fans should recognize. Westin doesnít know why he was burned, but he does know the people who did it want something. Tricia Helfer (Six on BSG) takes on the role of the mysterious voice at the end of season one. You can just call her Carla. Carla is the face and voice of the organization that is pulling Westinís strings. If you had any doubt if Helfer would be able to pull this off have no fear. Carla is deadly, dangerous and just a little bit smarter than Westin. Heíll have a hell of a time getting the best of her. Because he needs to use her to get to the real people after him Westin has to restrain himself from just shooting Carla. The result is a tense cat and mouse Ė OK, a very sexy cat and mouse Ė game that gives Burn Notice that last push to turn it from good to great.

The show itself remains the same as in season one. Why mess with a winning formula? Sam brings Michael a client, they do the research and work whilst concurrently working on the burn notice issue, and eventually a minor twist happens. And you know at some point thereíll be a dire situation that requires Westin to glance around, flash his charming Chiclet smile, and make a disarming quip. Thatís all there, as is the relationship between Michael and Fiona. He has to deal with leaving her at the end of season one, a move that doesnít make his toned ex-girlfriend happy. But she remains just as reliable as always when it comes to doing the job.

Ultimately what makes Burn Notice so great Ė like USAís other shows Monk and Psych -- are the characters. This is a show with explosions, fast talking, shootouts and a little instruction on how to make explosives from household chemicals. In the end itís also about a mother who wants to go to mother-son therapy, only to get there and be hilariously called out for her own antics. The show is about a woman who felt abandoned by the man she loves and yet still stands firm next to him during a job. Burn Notice is about a man who stands by his friend, even if the Caddy his girlfriend gave him gets trashed. Thatís why the show is worth anyoneís time to watch, it isnít just a noir style spy show, itís about real people going through their lives and adapting to some extraordinary circumstances.

Burn Notice is one of the best shows youíre probably not watching. When friends start shooting at each other and each side implicitly knows how to shoot to miss, but not by too much, you know youíre in for a treat. You should watch Burn Notice for all the yogurt you can eat. Seriously? How much yogurt can Michael and Fiona eat? They must go through a case each episode.

Burn Notice returns to USA on July 10th at 10pm/9c. But you can have private eye beach time whenever you want, just enter our ĒBurn Notice Beach BagĒ giveaway.
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