Burn Notice, Thursdays at 10pm, USA
Burn Notice, USA's highly addictive (and incredibly stylish) action-drama, begins its third season tonight at 10pm. The show is a critic's darling, with the main character often described as a little bit Jason Bourne, a little bit James Rockford, and a little bit Magnum PI.
But I see Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) more like Batman in an Armani suit.
Westen is -- or was -- a super-capable super spy. That is until he gets burned. The burn leaves him with no money, no credit, no ID. He's stuck in Miami trying to figure out who burned him and why. In the meantime, he has to take on various sad sack clients to earn the money to buy lots of yogurt, a closetful of expensive tailored suits, and to keep up the repairs on his vintage Dodge Charger.
Except somewhere along the line, the clients become less about making money and more about helping out the little guy who is powerless against The Man (the Man is always a soulless criminal who deserves everything he gets).
Burn Notice is heavy on action, but Westen is a decidedly brainy kind of action hero. His cool, confident calm and the easy rapport between the characters is what makes this show different from other crime dramas. Westen oozes charm -- not that fake, smarmy, gross charm, but the seriously 'too cool for school' charm. He knows how to do everything, build everything, and get out of any kind of jam. I can't imagine anyone but Jeffrey Donovan pulling this off so well.
But Michael Westen wouldn't get far without his team: Sam, a hard-drinking, Cadillac-loving former FBI pal played by Bruce Campbell, and Fi (Gabrielle Anwar), Westen's badass ex-girlfriend, who just happens to be a gun runner on the side. Sharon Gless also stars as Westen's chain-smoking mom.
One of the more fun parts of the show is watching Westen convincingly take on different personas, complete with weird accents and disguises. He'll also show you how to make a surveillance system with an old cell phone, a transistor radio, and an egg timer. Or something like that. He's MacGyver 4.0 and without the mullet.
At the end of season two (which you can watch for free on HULU), someone has just tried to blow him up, and he assumes it's the folks who burned him. The episode goes down this path a little ways, but of course there's a client -- in this case, a dying child and a dad who got ripped off by some con artist playing doctor.
The gang is back in prime form, although in one scene, Michael looks surprisingly scrawny in a bathing suit and I really wish he hadn't gone there. I may never be able to eat chicken again.
Note: USA has a marathon of Season 2 on today from 8am to 5pm. You can also watch episodes of Season 2 on Hulu, and current season episodes (after they air) on the USA website. Tonight's 10 pm premiere replays at 1am and then at 9am and 11pm on Saturday.