July 31st, 2008
When I was a guest on the /Filmcast on Monday night, at least for a brief period, I gave Burn Notice a qualified compliment in my discussion of Mad Men’s season premiere with Devindra Hardawar: I said that it was a fun show, and one with a lot of potential, but that Mad Men is simply in a different league. I stand by this statement, no question, but I want to make sure that this isn’t seen as a slight to this great show.
I’ve been slow to watch Thursday’s episode, but I am glad I finally got to it. “Comrades” is an extremely strong episode of a show that has been playing to its strengths all season. It’s worth hammering home, even though I’ve mentioned it the last few weeks, how great this balance is: even in an episode that adds extra helpings of Michael’s family to the equation, the balance between the normal clients and the ongoing serialized Carla storyline is in perfect form.
And when all of the various elements are working together in this type of comradery, it’s hard to beat Burn Notice for a more escapist (but still “great”) show.
July 24th, 2008
We’re running Carla free this time around on Burn Notice, which means that the scent of normalcy is in the air. This is, really, the prototypical Burn Notice episode: it’s got your client of the week, it has Michael looking for answers in dangerous places to discover who burned him, and it has a storyline that integrates Michael’s mother into the story in a way that’s still heavy-handed but certainly not overly intrusive.
I won’t have too much to say about this one, because it just worked: there wasn’t any shocking twists or new characters introduced, but it was just solid television that deserves some attention.
“Turn and Burn”
July 17th, 2008
With all of the Emmy hooplah, and then The Dark Knight over the weekend, it leaves less time for a show like Burn Notice. I didn’t blog about the show last summer not out of spite but out of design: the show is just solid, fun summer entertainment, not bothering with complex emotions or anything else. And, while that makes it a lot of fun to sit down and watch late Friday night, it makes it somewhat less fun to blog about.
However, I don’t want to do the show a disservice by ignoring it: there was still talk of the show somehow taking a nose dive in its first two episodes of the season, and I think this put that to rest. While the stakes are certainly higher this time around, the show still gives Michael more control than chaos, and his adept skills and reverting to a controlled state are some of the show’s finest moments. This week’s episode even seamlessly integrated the ongoing Carla narrative with one of Michael’s traditional clients, something that I feel gives just the right level of balance when all is said and done.
“Breaking and Entering”
July 9th, 2008
USA Today’s Robert Bianco, having seen the first two episodes of Burn Notice’s sophomore season, has fairly harsh words for what he views as the show’s shift in tone with the arrival of a more serialized plot development:
So what’s gone wrong? Like so many series today, Burn Notice has overburdened a fragile structure with a weighty continuing story…Unfortunately, the added depth has made the show less interesting, not more. And the time spent on the continuing story means the episodes’ capers are woefully underdeveloped.
However, after watching the premiere, I don’t really understand where he’s coming from here. He seems to argue that the tone of the series has been irrevocably changed from its previous standards, but the show was well within its comfort zone for the entire hour. Burn Notice is a show built on its clever set pieces, its charming interaction between Jeffrey Donovan and his wingpeople (Gabrielle Anwar and Bruce Campbell), and a tone that maintains humour while retaining consequence.
And if anything, the latest bump in the road for Michael Weston does all of these things – even if his trips to see his mother remain as pointless as they’ve ever been, Michael being held hostage by Tricia Helfer’s Carla is no more or less dramatic or grave than last season’s various individuals hired to kill our protagonist. For him to completely skirt the obvious danger that a burned agent as himself would be in would be much too unbelieveable.
The show has never been all about accuracy or tonal consistency, rarely proving a slave to what Bianco calls “comedy-tinged mystery.” And while I won’t argue the point that there are dangerous roads to be followed, I will argue that Burn Notice has not taken that exit: it’s still a fun and enjoyable summer series.