By Cultural Learnings
Burn Notice, premiering its third season on Thursday, June 4th on USA Network at 9/8c, is a show that started out as something very small. The story of a CIA operative who suddenly finds himself burned (blacklisted from government work, stuck with no passport, no money, etc.) and dropped off in Miami, the show may appear on the surface to be a traditional formula: with the help of his “trigger-happy” ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and his former colleague Sam (the week’s honoree, Bruce Campbell), Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) helps out people in the community who need someone who knows how to handle a gun, is able to rig a bomb out of just about anything, and who’s street smart enough to get the job done without involving the authorities.
At that basic level, the show is a procedural like any other, but it was first boosted by two primary elements that raise its quality. First, the presence of Anwar (who despite being a polarizing figure is damn fun to watch due to her sadistic streak) and Campbell (who is both the heart and humor of the show, usually simultaneously) help to give the show a nice banter, along with Michael’s connection to his mother and brother who also happen to live in Miami. Second, the missions themselves take the form of Michael offering narration as to his MacGyver-like abilities with hardware store purchases — he takes us through the missions piece by piece, allowing us to see the inner workings of the process. It takes missions that are good to begin with thanks to their populist streak (everyone likes to see a good guy helping out the little guy) and gives them an added point of interest for the viewer, especially those who enjoy geeking out at some ingenious engineering. Combined with the beautiful Miami setting, and the bikini-clad women who somehow always seem to populate the streets, and you have a show with something for everyone.
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