Burn Notice: Come on!

I've been a Burn Notice fan since Episode 1. When Michael walks into the guy's mansion, grabs a yogurt and starts looking around, intending to say "Oh man, this isn't Tommy's house?" if busted, then cracks the safe and presents Bad Guy #1 with a copy and says "Leave my client alone" then says to the beefy-but-stupid bodyguard "Nice shirt, does it come in mens?" I was hooked.

Then Michael shoots Sugar in the knee, breaks through the rear wall and sends him packing and teaches a 10 year old how to beat up a bully. The show was the perfect blend of campy private investigative work crossed with style and pinache. MaGyver meets Magnum P.I. meets Miami Vice.

Then Season Two approached and they had a great teaser using Billy Squire's "Everybody Wants You" and I was like, YEAH! My wife thought it had jumped the shark already but I stuck with it and she came around even when they brought wet-towel Mom back.

I try to avoid TV, having a few shows I'm willing to watch, only on DVR only after the kids are in bed. I haven't missed a Burn Notice. Because of BN, I started watching White Collar as well. Both shows use a cool style and the storyline is part soap-serial-cliff-hanger, part "wrap it up in less than an hour so everyone can feel like something was accomplished" ala every sitcom and most dramas. One part overarching big story, 3 parts "we're gonna wrap this up in 40 minutes" small story.

This has proven problematic.

I really like the concept, but as the seasons burn on for both Burn Notice and my backup plan, White Collar, the overall serial plot goes nowhere - well, it goes, but instead of somewhere, it's a circle, perhaps spiral - and it's getting pretty tiring. I'd like there to be some sort of end to the levels but nope, every season -- and this season, every episode -- they tackle one bunch of bad guys and "lookout!" here comes the really bad guy. Oh him, nope, he's just bad, this next guy is psycho! Did I say psycho? I meant pussycat, at least compared to THIS guy.


It's clear they didn't have a plan for this overall plot, but considering that, they've done pretty well. Heck, I don't have much of a overall plan, either.

While I'm a fan of this type of device, sort of like The Incredible Hulk or Highway to Heaven, it must go somewhere. You gotta find that one-armed guy sometime, or for poor David Banner to get that monster out of his system.  I think Burn Notice could have had a popular 5-7 year run as Michael figures out who burned him, actually lets Fi in, and kicks Miami bad-guy butts up and down South Beach after turning down the CIA that's now begging to have him back. There could have been some commentary on our government, sort of like the "Bourne Identity" series.

Yeah, our government doesn't do great things all the time, but we are all a part of it. If the government is "we the people" then it is "our problem".

I wasn't looking for something deep, but I wanted to at least get wet in the kiddie pool.

But, alas, Burn Notice is now airborn on water skis. They are in a wide, slowly spiraling staircase with one bad guy a step above the last bad guy. Not only that, but they have these wild chase scenes on empty streets, blow up tons of stuff and shoot and stab people in plain site with not a cop or even a witness around.  Last night, Bad Guy 1B stabbed Bad Guy 1A and held Michael at gunpoint for 5 minutes while 1A lay dying, no thought to witnesses or police or anything.  It was okay though, because except for the gang and the bad guys, Miami is empty. I guess that housing crunch sure did them in.

Later Michael, Fi and Jesse ended up holed up in a partly-constructed hotel, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid style, where Michael, devising plan D involving the need for fertilizer for a bomb, says, and I kid you not, "I passed a gardener's shed on the way to the roof." Really, what would a 5 star, South Beach hotel need with a gardener's shed INDOORS, on a 10th floor?!? And why would they not have completed construction on this hotel but have kitchen supplies and fertilizer already on-hand?

And why do the cops never seem to know Michael or Fi or Sam?  They are always around trouble, pack major heat and carry C4 in every trunk, attache and purse yet they are never followed or recognized.  They can walk into courthouses and police stations with impunity. Wouldn't the cops at least be keeping their eye on them?

Have I been missing this stupidity for a long time, blinded by the Richard Dean crossed with Tom crossed with Don thing? Or, did they come to a complete stand-still in the writing this season?

Look, I didn't come to skewer Burn Notice. The acting was never the best, nor was the writing, but the whole thing was great. It's just too bad they didn't know where to go or budget properly so they could make more realistic blowing-things-up-on-busy-streets scenes. Maybe I expect to much, but darnit, Burn Notice, you raised my expectations. That first season was good and you didn't even have to blow up very much stuff. You waltzed in places, you knew cool spy tricks, you were bold and you always won! Pay some new writers and cut out the big explosions and go back to the fundamentals of good cable TV!

I hope someone eventually creates a show as good as Burn Notice but with a 5 year plan. Five years is a good run for a show, most don't make one year. Give it a good plan with a good story, planned out from the start with red herrings and plot twists and the whole thing, then roll it out to me and make it as cool, stylish and interesting as Burn Notice did the first few seasons.

I'll still be unsatisfied probably.

--- December 22nd, 2010 :: Misc ::