Thursday, September 18, 2008

Burn This And The Usual Gang of...

Have you seen "Burn This" and "Mad Men" this year? I know, I know I praised them last year here and here, but this year these shows are on fi-yah!

....this year on "Burn Notice" fer instance, the gang has more time to show off their acting chops as Bruce Frickin' Campbell and Sharon GD Gless rock the mutha with episodes featuring both actors being roomies in Gless' house. Seeing pros like Campbell and Gless make you wonder why they aren't leads in their own shows... except that Jeffrey Donovan is doing some of his best work this year and he's the lead. What could've easily been a syndicated action show starring Wings Hauser from the late eighties, instead has been leavening the fun-n-games with a story of how a man used to being on his own, now has to depend on a drunk ex-navy seal, an ex-girlfriend who was a gunrunner for the IRA and his mother and brother- people he has kept at arm's length until he becomes "burned".

Call it a "The Prisoner" with funnier jokes, or a "Man From U.N.C.L.E." where Waverly and Kuryakin have set Solo up to take a fall. This show had me "Blammo"!

"Mad Men" has become for me, the show that Rod Serling would've written if he could curse and not have to couch all of his points in fantasy. Think about it- man in the grey-flannel suit-types inhabit a great deal of "The Twilight Zone", especially men who have grown dissatisfied with the lives they've made for themselves. Don Draper (Jon Hamm's character in "MM") could be a brother to Gig Young's character in the TZ episode "Walking Distance".

But a brother who wanted the rat race because the memories of the small town are less idyllic than the one who goes back in time. Oh just watch the frickin' episode, jackass, you'll figure it out.

What I love about this show is that they've taken the idea of the "question of character" that plagues the main males in the cast and brought the females into this moral quandary as well. You can argue that the Peggy Cooper (Elisabeth Moss) character was the only female character had to deal with major moral questions, but I would posit that her journey this season has more layers and is more on the level of what Draper and Pete Campbell were going through last year. And this year Betty Draper, Joan Holloway and even Bobbie Barrett have had their parts deepened to a comparable level to the men.

Watching an episode of "Mad Men" is watching the excruciating devastation of the small cruelty. No other show can approach such mature themes without nudity or excessive foul language.

These are shows worth watching.

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