Friday, June 5, 2009

What I’m Watching: Burn Notice (Season Premiere)

Burn Notice: Season 3, Episode 1 “Friends and Family” (B+)

“Burn Notice” really is the ideal summer show. It’s set in Miami, for starters, and the characters, much as they might get worked up over trying to pull off their latest job, are never really in a rush to get anywhere. It’s summer, where do they have to be? That notion is especially at play in the first episode of the show’s third season. After telling Management to leave him alone in last season’s finale, Michael has to evade a few authorities and spend a day or two in jail, but once that’s done, it’s back to the old plan for Michael – helping people out to pass the time.

This season opener is a pretty standard episode of “Burn Notice” in terms of how Michael gets his business (an old friend) and who the villain is (evil man seizing land). It works well because it provides Michael with a way to get out of jail and successfully on-the-lam and low-profile while introducing a possible recurring guest who turns out to be anything but. Brian Van Holt, who starred in CBS’s terrific but speedily axed sci-fi series “Threshold” a few years back, is on board as Michael’s Special Forces friend Harlan, who the other cast members, especially Madeline, seem to think may be sticking around for a while. Unfortunately, he’s just setting Michael up to take the fall for Harlan’s own double-crossing. It’s always amusing to see Michael pretend that he’s being taken advantage of, whether it’s letting his shoulder get dislocated or cutting his own wrists repeatedly to get the rope undone while Harlan goes on about how much he thinks of himself. Harlan could have been a good addition to Michael’s rotating repertoire, but I’m pleased as is with the same old cast.

Everyone was spot on in this episode, showcasing their best traits and abilities. Fiona got to drive huge trucks into huge assholes and attempt to convey her feelings for Michael despite his unwillingness to hear them. Sam had a meeting with an obnoxious client and seduced Madeline’s neighbor in order to drive a cool car. Even Madeline, who sometimes feels superfluous, got a chance to complain repeatedly about Sam and Michael destroying her kitchen, and praised Harlan through the roof only to try to take her words back once he betrayed Michael. And Michael himself was nothing short of impressive, managing to piece everything back together and get his life back to the way it was before Carla. We’ll see how long that lasts.

I’ll be watching “Royal Pains,” which looks to be an almost exact clone of this show, this weekend. Check back for that pilot review later on.

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