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Burn Notice: A Unique Television Series full of Humor, Intrigue and Unrequited Love

Dec 23, 2010 by Tom Jones

Now entering its 5th and 6th seasons, Burn Notice is an indulgent and fun hour of entertainment. The premise of the show centers on “Burned” spy, Michael Westen, as played by Jeffrey Donovan.

The term “Burned” is coined by those in the intelligence services when they have been unknowingly discharged without notice as a secret agent or operative for unknown reasons, and all of their personal history is erased along with all of their known records in the process.

They are left with no money, no credit, no job history, and whatever city that’s been decided to have been left in.

In Michael Westen’s case, he’s left in Miami, where he grew up, and where both his mom as played by Sharon Gless, (Madeleine Westen), and his brother Nate played by Seth Peterson, happen to live.

The other main characters that make this series such a guilty pleasure are Gabrielle Anwar, as Fiona Glenanne, a beautiful and sexy former IRA operative and Westen’s ex-girlfriend.

A large part of the emotional and melodramatic interplay is their complicated relationship—both when they’re working together to discover who “burned” Michael Westen along with the side jobs they take on to help ordinary citizens from various nefarious characters like drug dealers, arms and drug traffickers, gangs, kidnappers and a slew of other types of criminal miscreants.

Westen’s ability to go “undercover” at any given moment using a multitude of various archetype characters–a simpleton janitor, a high end car fence gang head, or a multi-national terrorist rogue–Donovon’s, Weston, pulls off the high-stakes flim-flam with uber-talent and panache. And for good reason, it’s not only his “job,” but his and others lives at stake while he does so.

Michael and Fiona have a sizzling chemistry always boiling beneath the surface as Fiona still loves Michael, and probably the reverse, but the combination of their dangerous lives along with Michael’s impenetrable detachment from ever having a “normal” relationship, always keeps their pot from boiling over.

Sharon Gless, who plays Michael’s mom, Madeleine Westen, is at times part irritant, helper, adviser, psychologist and the overall kind of character that we come to not only like but also empathize with on many levels–she knows that Michael will never recover from his abuse as a child, and he will always be loyal to her and his brother, yet be forever psychologically disconnected– but at times receptive to her advice.

As the series progresses, Madeleine knows that Michael will never change and for reasons only he knows, he’ll always be drawn to the dangerous and mirrored world of espionage, but only as one of the “good guys.”

Lastly, the glue that holds the show together is the character Sam Axe, as played by actor Bruce Campbell. A former Navy Seal and ex-spy to the FBI on Westen, his character is always on the rebound to help Michael, Fiona, or Madeleine out of a jam.

His ties to the intelligence community at all times are helpful in Michael Westen’s quest to find out who and why he was burned, as well as part of their trio always helping an innocent citizen in their trials and tribulations in each episode, to escape from the clutches of a criminal who has them, or a loved one, fighting for their or another loved one’s survival.

His character is funny and as well professional, proving that Campbell too, knows his chops when it comes to the game of espionage and investigation. Frequently he uses the moniker, “Chuck Finley,” when having to do undercover work.

The series has many frequently used themes, most of them Michael’s ability to use any household or nearby item to improvise into a military, explosive or other device to help him out of a fix–cell phones, computers, fire extinguishers, duct tape,etc., which are among a never ending array of devices he’s been trained to use in a jam.

Donovon’s character, Michael Weston, is never at a loss to stay one step ahead of situations that seem almost impossible to which he’s either set-up or must escape from.

Another funny aspect to the show is how they name the various bad guy-good guy characters the moment that character is unveiled in an episode—if one of the character’s in an episode is a psychotic drug kingpin, then that name is immediately placed underneath the first glimpse of the character, creating a humorous and simple way of labeling people for maximum entertaining effect.

From episode to episode, Michael encounters people from both his past and his present that present what may seem opportunities for him to get closer to find out who burned him, or who are just out to get him for a myriad of reasons—a lot having to do with his black ops and secret agent past.

A new character that’s been introduced in season 3 is another “Burned” spy named Colby Bell, as played by Jesse Porter, whom Michael mistakenly burned out of ignorance, and now their working relationship is strained yet sustainable and professional.

Overall, with the series setting in Miami, the action packed into each episode, the dynamics between each and all the characters and the rouge’s rogues’ list of characters from episode to episode, Burn Notice makes for a delicious hour of fantasy which has just been renewed for a series 5 and 6.

Without the underling character dynamics that Burn Notice’s actors have successfully developed, and have been able to convey in an action packed series that are symbolic of real life complex interrelationships, Burn Notice might not be as good as it is. But with this brilliant cast, it’s a no-brainer show that’s full of fun and excitement in each and every one of its episodes.

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Entertainment, Television
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