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Burn Notice, if you don’t already know, is a wonderful TV show, set in Miami, on USA Network.  Its focus is Michael Westen, a spy who was burned.  Michael has spent many years and several seasons trying to find out who burned him.  I wondered, in the beginning, how the writers could stretch that out and keep us interested long enough to keep the showing going.  And what would happen when Michael finally found out who burned him?

Part of the way they have kept me hooked is by dragging out the process.  Most episodes are about a job where Michael says he’ll see what he can do to help people who are in trouble.  One or two pieces of the burned puzzle are revealed each episode.

But now, in the 6th season, Michael has his position back at the CIA and knows who burned him.  How can it keep going?  Yet, I am still on the edge of my seat during each show and can’t wait for Thursday nights.

Here are some of my humble reasons why:

1.  The Crew
Michael is good, but no one is that good. In this business you need back up.  What a team he has!  Sam Axe, ex-Navy Seal and especially clever spy in his own right.  Sam always wears Hawaiian shirts and prefers a Mojito, but will gladly take a beer.  He adores women – especially rich ones.  He uses the alias Chuck or Charles Findley, whenever the need arises.
Fiona Glenanne is Michael’s girlfriend (though I have to say I liked it better when she was chasing him).  “Fi” is an extremely thin, but beautiful woman in the style of Emma Peale or Anna Devane.  Stronger than most men and more clever, having the weapon of her sex that they don’t.  An explosive expert, Fiona is happiest when she’s blowing things up with a big gun.
In the process of finding out who burned him, Michael had to burn another spy.  When Jesse Porter got over what he did, they become good friends.  Jesse has a good job with a security firm and can occasionally lend Michael equipment.  Though Jesse is less experienced than Michael in this spy game, he is still a reliable and smart partner in any of Michael’s cons.

2.  Michael’s Mom
Madeline Westen, Michael’s widowed mom is a pistol!  She lives in a cute little Miami house. She wears brightly colored shorts or pants sets with big hoop earrings to match.  There is often a cigarette in her hand.  Madeline is fierce and courageous.  She has pitched in to help Michael on many dangerous missions.

3.  The Extended Family
A person like Michael gets to know a lot of a certain kind of people.  Like Barry the money launderer.  Michael often has an assortment of quirky characters he can reach out to, including agents, both capable and fumbling.  Sam has well-earned connections and can be counted on to have a buddy who can dig up crucial information. Fiona knows a lot of seedy people, including gun dealers who can supply any arms or explosives she may have a hankering for.

4.  The Cars
Jesse has a Porsche that he reluctantly lends to Michael for a scheme.  Fiona drives a fast Hyundai (a sponsor of the show). Sam’s girlfriend of the moment usually has a fancy car he can use when needed.  Michael owns a Charger which belonged to his father (also a spy) all refurbished and souped up.  Many episodes include at least one exciting car chase.  Fast is good, but clever is better.

5.  Miami
Burn Notice never lets you forget they are in Miami, flashing over beaches and ocean, shopping districts and high rises.  On some, but not all episodes, clips show us some of the better female bodies on the beaches.  Miami is a colorful and exciting setting.  Its many coves and warehouses, as well as high end homes and shining office buildings, play a vital role in the stories.

6.  Excitement and Explosions
With fast cars and explosions, sometimes shoot outs, the writers and directors keep us on our toes.  It’s hard to fall asleep when Burn Notice is on.  You can tell how much fun they’re having with all this.  Even someone like me, who could care less about special effects, is hooked.

7.  Michael, himself.
The is no show without Michael.  He is a complicated and interesting character.  A super spy as we have come to find out.  Michael is well-schooled in the art of spying, (and happy to share what he knows with friends as well as the audience) but he is also very smart and can think on his feet to get out of any situation. There are several “characters” in Michael in can pull out as needed.  He tries to be cold and reserved, annoyed by his mother, for a long time avoiding or ignoring Fi’s advances.  But Michael loves the people in his life deeply and would do anything for them.  He’s generous with appreciation for a job well done. No one is better at making a phone, a bomb or a clever ruse than Michael.  I will say, I liked in the earlier shows, how Michael would gather a few supplies from Radio Shack, find some scraps in the garage and build a fairly sophisticated tracking device.  The show spokes people said they heavily researched these things (and I believe were careful not to reveal all the ingredients for making a bomb, for instance).  These days he has more resources and can get the real things.

8. Writers Continuing to Excite and Leave Something Hanging
I have to give credit to the writers and creators who have managed to created cliff hanger after cliff hanger.  They’ve pulled Michael and his friends along, gave them sharp turns, sent them leaping ahead and then flying back. They’ve built the suspense perfectly and managed to create a new wrinkle at just the right time.

I believe these 8 items, plus the fabulous actors which grace the screen every episode are what make this an exceptionally good TV show.

I can’t wait for the next episode!

Things are going to be changing at The Positive Slant. New Ideas and a fresh focus. I apologize for falling off schedule this week. I have a lot going on right now. For now, here are a few TV shows I love ~

Carnivale (HBO, 2003 – 2005 )

Another defunct, gone before its time HBO series, now on DVD. I know this has been said before about a lot of things that didn’t measure up. I am a true believer in Twin Peaks and this series has the same vibe. It’s full of Lynchian characters. The Little Man from Twin Peaks is the Ringleader of the Carnivale. There is some kind of “Management” that’s not been seen yet, but seems to be residing in the back of the Ringleader’s caravan. Management informed the Ringleader that he should take in a teenaged boy whose mother was dead on the ground when they found him. There are lots of quirky and creepy characters in the Carnivale that could easily have been created by Mr. Lynch himself. The setting in the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s creates a mood and tone all its own. It is visual and impressionable and all the things that David Lynch is so famous for. After only a few episodes, we are hooked.

MI-5 a.k.a. Spooks (UK, 2003 – Present)

I believe I already reviewed this, but having just started the second season, I have to say that I’m even more in love with it! It’s hit its stride. I think it might be running on BBC America with new episodes.

Top Gear (UK 1978 – Present)

Another series that is ongoing. We’ve discovered it on BBC America (one step away from our beloved Comedy Central on FIOs.) It is the funniest show I have ever seen. These are some crazy car dudes with money and ideas. They test fast cars and perform all kinds of antics that keep us in stitches. This is a fine example of taking what you love and making something out of it. Jeremy, Richard and James (the current “presenters”) are clearly passionate about what they do.

P.S. Burn Notice, season 3 is about a month away. I can hardly wait!

My Name is Bruce (USA, 2007)

Bruce Campbell is the current co-star of Burn Notice (one of my faves). He has a long filmography. He’s acted, directed and written, too. Perhaps he is most well-remembered for making cheap horror films like Bubba Ho-tep and The Evil Dead Trilogy. Many of the actors from those movies join him in this, a spoof of himself and the cheezy horror movie trade. It’s a typical story, but fun, with creepy characters and lots of screaming and laughs. Bruce plays himself, as a broken down drinker who knows how to act in a horror movie, but not in real life! Who else would you call if your town was being terrorized by a creature with a folk song? Hooky fun. And, I might add that the Bruce Campbell of these movies is pretty close to the Sam Axe character of Burn Notice. Sam wears the same Hawaiian shirts and carries himself with a similar attitude. Though, in Burn Notice the monsters are of this plane. A whole lotta laughs whether you know of his work or not.


Bombay Talkie (USA, 1970)

An American woman writer comes to India to find out more about a popular Bollywood actor. Seems she writes sexy novels and wants some material from the colorful Indian film industry. She’s not a very nice person, but the scenery makes it all right. A piece of music from this movie was used in Darjeeling Limited. (Another fun film made in India.) An odd movie, but interesting. The description on IMDB doesn’t match mine. I’m not sure the story is the main feature. James Ivory wrote and directed it.


Love and Honor (Japan, 2006)

We’ve been watching a lot of these Samurai movies lately. A 30-doku (low wages) Samurai tasting food for the feudal lord, ends up poisoned. He survives, but is blind. With children and a wife, what sacrifices will have to be made to support them? How will he find his way? A touching story of love and honor.

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