Thursday, November 11, 2010
"Burn Notice" still entertaining, but enough with the mythology
Show of hands: how many people still give a fig about who burned Michael Westen?
I mean, since the first episode of USA's TV series "Burn Notice," we've been handed red herring after red herring about who sent Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) off the grid. And while it's brought us some interesting actors and storylines, it's kind of all gone nowhere.
That doesn't mean that "Burn Notice," which returns for its new season tonight at 10, is no longer watchable.
Quite the contrary. Whenever the show focuses on Michael's efforts to help the endangered and disenfranchised citizens of Miami, it's quite good. I also still love Michael's relationships with his various friends and loved ones, including Sam (Bruce Campbell), Fi (Gabrielle Anwar), and his mom (Sharon Gless). I even like the character of Jesse (Coby Bell), the hot-headed spy that Michael accidentally burned last season.
With so much to like, I can ignore the fact that the burn mythology doesn't quite work.
It helps that tonight's premiere features a fairly strong non-burn story, carried over from last season's finale. I don't know if "Burn Notice" has ever carried a non-mythology story line from one season to the next, but it does make sense in this case.
It seems the shady lawyer Michael helped to retrieve his daughter last season wants revenge and has enlisted the services of a Travis Bickle-esque nut to achieve that end. The nutjob is played by James Ransone, best known to "The Wire" fans as Ziggy, and he's a compelling villain. The job also gives Michael a chance to take on one of his odd, and always entertaining, cover identities.
That's all great fun (though it does include less of Sam, Fi and Mom than I'd like). However, the burn storyline does re-rear its ugly head, as Michael is now, apparently, trying to find some sort of NOC list (the NOC list is a concept you may remember from the first "Mission Impossible" film -- if, in fact, you remember that film at all). It's hard to care about that.
But I care enough about Michael (and the still-charismatic performance by Jeffrey Donovan) to keep watching.