Quote of the Moment

"Beep Industries currently has no openings. This is a good thing. Any number of career paths are better than game development. Lots of jobs are more lucrative and far less work. We hear marketing and animal husbandry are filled with potential."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Review: Burn Notice Pilot

The Mrs. and I watched the pilot episode for Burn Notice last night on USA. I liked it enough to do an initial review on it. My plan for shows like this is that I'll do an initial review, then around the middle or end of the season, come back and revisit any issues that I brought up in the initial impression.

Show: Burn Notice
Genre: Action
Network/Timeslot: USA, 10pm Eastern & Pacific
Appropriate for: Probably 14-15 and up. I'd say most anyone who's up at 10pm on a school night.

Burn Notice is USA's latest "Quirky Character" show, following in the similar vein of Monk and Psych in this regard. In this case, the lead quirky character is a CIA freelancer named Michael Westin who receives a "burn notice" while on a mission in Nigeria. Apparently, in the Burn Notice world, spies, at least those who don't officially work for the government but are contracted unofficially, don't get fired, they get burned. Meaning that since you can't remove the knowledge of how to operate from a spy's head, you take away the tools he uses to do his job. No money, no supporting agents, etc.

It's a pretty good setup, but fortunately for our hero, he apparently graduated from the McGuyver school of spying, since his suddenly limited budget only makes him get more creative with his tools. In the pilot alone, we see him assemble a bug out of cell phones, a pipe bomb out of household implements, and convince a drug dealer to leave using duct tape, a stud finder, a coffee can, and a .45.

It also bears noting that one of the supporting cast members is none other than Mr. Bruce Campbell, playing a burned (and burnt out) friend of Michael's. Bruce "If Chin's could kill" Campbell apparently put on a few pounds for the role, but he still manages to steal pretty much every scene he's in.

It's not all rosy in this show though. One of my biggest complaints is that everything Michael does gets a voice-over explanation. I don't mind a little bit of this (it works well in Psych), but I swear, everything he does has to be explained in the manner of
"When you're a spy, you can't just go to the bathroom. You have to check the exits, make
sure there's no one with a gun lurking in one of the stalls, then pick a urinal with an easy path
to the exit just in case. Oh, and once you finish, don't forget to wash your hands."
The deadpan delivery isn't bad, but by the end of the episode, I really didn't want to hear any more explanations.

Still, I remember that Psych took a while to come into its own, and the premise here isn't bad. It's been a long time since we've had a good McGuyver type character on TV, and if the show sticks to the spy out of water and making do formula, preferably toning down on the voice-overs, I think they'll have another hit on their hands.