Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Sentimental Criminal

Burn Notice - Season 1 (2007)
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats

Burn Notice - Season 2 (2008-2009)
rating: 3 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

If Entourage is the quintessential two-cravat production, Burn Notice might be the template for three. I don’t know that I’ve ever watched a popular TV show at the time it aired – Seinfeld and The Simpsons, two comedies, are probably as close as I got, and that was in high school – but Burn Notice suggests what I have, and haven’t, been missing. For one thing, there aren’t too many plot arcs to keep track of. Two, in fact: the case of the week and Michael’s ongoing efforts to get to the bottom of his professional sabotage.

I can’t be the only one who finds Michael, Sam, and Fiona’s time around a table of Cuban food the best thing about the show. Little details, like the actors who play Fiona and Michael being the same age, are sweet and commendable, and Sam is the sort of soupy, pleasant alcoholic we pretend to recognize in our own extended families. The weekly “gimmick,” wherein Michael outdoes MacGyver for modifications of found household objects, is more tech-oriented than my tastes, but it wouldn’t be the ratings success it is without something for everyone, right?

More importantly, with these first few December frosts, I appreciate a Miami-based spy show. I started with Burn Notice instead of Miami Vice because there are fewer episodes of Burn Notice to catch up on. It even got me thinking that I’m ready to watch Breaking Bad and trade up from Florida sun to the New Mexico light of my memories. The plan might backfire – seeing the appearance of an around-the-corner Albuquerque hamburger stand in Sunshine Cleaning depressed me for a week – but the past doesn’t hurt any less for trying to forget it. Michael and Fiona would sympathize, and that’s why the show’s so good.