After taking some time off for tennis, "Burn Notice" is back for two more weeks until going on siesta until early '09. Spoilers for tonight's episode coming up just as soon as I offer a man named Ted Nugent a thousand dollars to listen to my proposal...
Well, if they're going away for a while, at least they're going away with two really strong episodes. (USA sent out a screener of both, but I'll obviously refrain from saying anything more about next week's show.)
Let's start off with Tim Matheson, who both directed the episode and guest-starred as Michael's not-so-dead old buddy. When the hell did Matheson go and turn 60? (IMDb says nearly a year ago, actually.) He may not be as young and spritely as he was in "Animal House" (or even "Fletch"), but he can still carry himself like a man you don't want to mess with, and he was appropriately menacing and darkly funny here. The bit where he casually twirled the screwdriver in his hands was nice, but what really sold the danger was the fact that Michael -- who has an answer for any situation -- seemed scared of the guy.
Michael of course had less reason to be afraid around the hitman-hiring stepson (the latest in a long string of post-"Home Improvement" young punk roles played by Zachary Bryan), and slipped convincingly into character as a knife-wielding psycho. In some ways, "Burn Notice" is beginning to resemble the better parts of "Alias" -- not the confusing Rambaldi mythology or constant reboots, but the way it gives the leading man an opportunity to slip into another character each week before he gets to convincingly kick ass by the end.
(The shows also have strained parent-child relations in common, and this season's rehabilitation of Madline continues with the therapy session where Michael finds out his mom, not his dad, signed him into the military.)
I admire the way the "Burn Notice" team has been able to stretch their basic cable dollar, not only snagging three recognizable guest stars (including Amy Pietz as the target) when usually they have to get by with one at best, but also doing a good old-fashioned stunt with Michael jacking the garbage truck onto the back of his stolen pick-up. Not to sound like a grumpy old man who loves to talk about how everything was better in the good old days, but watching a gag like that reminds me that practical effects are often much more impressive and convincing than the CGI that's become so abundant because it's (relatively) cheap and easy to use.
Though Fiona's paramedic boyfriend turns out not to be Victor, as some people had guessed, the Carla arc progresses, and we finally get back to the key card she had him steal in her last appearance.
Good stuff. This season, "Burn Notice" has gone from amiable background noise to can't-miss viewing for me.
What did everybody else think?