Thursday, July 12, 2007

Burn Notice: The softer side of spies

It's the rare summer show (or regular season show, as a matter of fact) that actually provides characters with depth, backstory, and the ability to grow, while still qualifying as light viewing. Sure, you get the quality dramas (The Closer, Rescue Me), and the quality comedies (Monk, Psych), but rarely do you get those shows that combine the best attributes of both into the perfect, summer-appropriate package. Burn Notice provides all that and more (BRUCE CAMPBELL! And his "guns of steel!"), and we're only three episodes in! Let's all consider ourselves very lucky, and not question how a show this great landed on cable in the most ratings-starved season of the year.

Although I was skeptical at first, I'm kind of loving the Fiona/Michael relationship, at least for now. (Although why would you need a key to someone's place if you could break in whenever you wanted?) She pushes him, he pushes back but eventually caves, she throws Molotov cocktails at scumbags trying to kill his clients...it's pretty effing sweet, and manages to humanize Michael a bit. I'm a little more suspicious, however, of the other major Michael-humanizing effort being undertaken by the show's writers: the whole "daddy issues" backstory. It just really, really has the potential to get clich├ęd in a hurry, if you ask me. As long as they remember that a little goes a long way, though, I'll be fine. And his new/old Charger is pretty tight, so that's something.

Our case of the week also served to soften Michael up a little. In helping Carol and her daughter escape the drug cartel, he not only got to show off his mad spy skillz (cell phone-linked motion detector, the old "torch to the metal doorknob" trick, walking into a secure area with confidence and then running away quickly...), but also had to deal with something illogical--something that couldn't be fixed by smashing in a door, or tapping someone's phone. The laws of reason didn't apply, and Michael was forced to dig way deep down and use empathy and humanity to deal with the situation. Yes, horror upon horrors, Michael had to deal with a teenage girl. A teenage girl faced with picking up in the middle of the night and fleeing to Buffalo...on the night of the spring formal! Terrible.

But whaddya know, Michael is able to bust out a story about how he met Fiona when she was in the IRA, and they found each other again, and fate, blah blah blah the daughter totally understands and everything is fixed. Can I tell you guys how much I love the fact that all of Michael's stories begin with something like, "This one time, when I was imprisoned and tortured in Kiev..." or, "So I was stuck in the middle of the Afghani desert with nothing but a bottle opener, four pennies, and a bunch of guys trying to kill me..." It somehow makes his attempts at empathizing both laughable and overly sincere at the same time.

On the burn notice front, I'm kind of wondering if they're going to start moving that plot along more quickly. I mean, Michael actually now has the homeland security directive that led to his dismissal, and all it gave him were a couple of codes? For real? When's he going to start kicking ass and taking names on his own behalf, instead of his clients'? Ah, well...I, for one, am certainly enjoying the ride.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love Love Love this show. It is one of the few programs that I am actually sad to see end at the end of each hour. I want to stay and live in their world - I just adore these characters. Oh, and didn't we know at the first mention of his dads car that it was gonna be tight? Yah, then they said "Charger" and we knew it.

Liz said...

Yeah, this show is all kinds of awesome, especially for summer programming! Hopefully it'll be around for a while.

Julie said...

Love the show, loved your assessment of it. And yes, that Charger is tight, much like Michael's pants.

Not that I have any problem with that whatsoever.

Liz said...

Thanks! Burn Notice is definitely a breath of fresh air compared to "Age of Love," "Hey Paula," and most of the rest of the summer dregs. And I suppose the tight pants don't hurt things.