As mentioned in yesterday's column, I really dug the two-hour "Burn Notice" finale, which had both the drug and spy stories working neatly in parallel. For the first hour, we assume each story is going one way, with the husband and wife and Richard Schiff, respectively, as the bad guys, only to have the real villains show up around the 60-minute mark, with the stakes increasing dramatically.
Bruce Campbell will be the first guy to tell you that he's not a master thespian, but it's always cool to see how a slight tweak of his usual affect can make previously buffoonish behavior seem completely serious and credible. I liked seeing Sam hold up under torture, just as much as I was glad to see Michael finally bring his mom into the fold (not that I love the character, but the secret identity stuff didn't pay enough dividends to be worth the time spent on it) and to see Michael make some progress in his thing with the CIA.
At the same time, I hope the cliffhanger doesn't foretell too big a change in the status quo for next season. I thought the show hit a really nice groove towards the end of this first season, and I'd hate to see them flip things around so quickly.
Meanwhile, "Survivor: China" has one more episode to convince me that I'm not tired of the format. (I've already seen the "Earl" and "Ugly Betty" premieres.) It's not even that the premiere did anything particularly bad, but I've seen so many iterations of this show now that it's really hard to get enthusiastic anymore, even though we had an awesome season as recently as last fall. A few bullet-point notes:
- On behalf of all people from the New York/New Jersey area, please shut up, Courtney. You don't speak for us in your disdain for the rest of the world. Okay, so maybe you do a little, but not that early and often.
- Frosti does parkour! Awesome! I love parkour, and if you don't love parkour -- which you can get a cinematic glimpse of in these clips from "District B-13" and "Casino Royale" -- I am very sad for you. Not sure how useful a style of running designed for urban areas will work in the jungle, or even on these obstacle courses (the gravedigger's brute strength turned out to be far more valuable), but I'd like to see him really show off soon.
- They're back down to 16 players for the first time in ages (Pearl Islands, maybe?), and it's about damn time. 16 is already too many people to keep track of, but 18 or 20 was ridiculous.
- Given the number of times now that contestants have been stranded with only the clothes on their backs, why in the world would anyone be stupid to wear high heels, buckle boots, no bra, etc., at any point while in the employ of team Burnett? From the instant I showed up, I would be wearing several layers of the most comfortable, versatile clothing possible. (Not that I would go on "Survivor," as the hunger thing and my dislike of sleeping outdoors would make me useless.)