Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Characters Tolerated

Have you been watching the USA Network lately? I had almost written it off as the "Monk-only Network", as I could not get past the first epi's* of "The 4400", "The Dead Zone" and the execrable "Psych", which only got on because the success of the aforementioned "Monk". I would call "Psych" "unwatchable", except that would be insulting to shows that are unwatchable.

However, someone at USA wised up and bought the only true successor to such sixties Mr. J television favorites as "I Spy" (not the lame Owen Wilson**/Eddie Murphy movie rip-off) and "It Takes A Thief" (please someone collect this in a DVD box set!), "Burn Notice" an ex-spy show done with some similarities to "The Equalizer", but without cold New York and old Edward Woodward.
Set in Miami, this show is narrated by Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan), an ex-special ops agent who has been put on "burn notice" by someone, probably in the CIA. This means his bank accounts have been frozen, he can't leave the city (his hometown) and he's constantly being watched, while no one will tell him why. To make money while trying to find out who did this to him, Michael becomes sort of a private eye, with the help of his ex-girlfriend (a former IRA gunrunner) Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and his over-the-hill, boozy ex-special ops friend Sam (the mighty Bruce Campbell). His mother (Sharon Gless) is also on hand to bug him, as chain-smoking passive-aggressive mom's tend to do.
Not that I would know.
The show tends to mix up Le Carre spy-talk, the hot Miami setting, guys with commitment/parent-issues, and Chandler-y narration with flair. Donovan, in the lead role, brings to the part the cool mix of charm and menace that he did to "Mr. Monk and The Astronaut" episode a couple of years ago. The guy tends to smile like James f'ing Coburn***, which only makes this show work even better.
And what can you say about Bruce Campbell that he hasn't said a million times better himself? Author, actor, ladies man, Campbell shows us all how to do what needs to be done.
I refuse to explain that last remark.
With "Burn Notice", USA Network now has two shows worthy of its catchphrase "Characters Welcome".

*c'mon, I only have a little time to write this.

**perhaps the cause of his recent hospitalization?
***Please, let's watch the language for the kids' sake, huh?

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