Friday, February 13, 2009

Burn Notice, "Bad Breaks": Everything old is new again

Spoilers for last night's "Burn Notice" coming up just as soon as I take a calming walk along the marina...

Now that's what I'm talking about.

Because "Burn Notice" has done such a great job of establishing Michael's worldview and mode of operation, it allows the writers to place him into any kind of familiar storyline, no matter how well-worn the territory, and make it feel like something fresh. So the instant Mark Sheppard(*) and his crew walked in on Michael and Bly's argument and I realized that we were about to see the "Burn Notice" take on the old bank hostage crisis plot, I had a broad smile on my face that didn't go anywhere for the rest of this taut, well-executed and, as usual, funny hour. In future seasons, I look forward to seeing Michael delivery a breach birth while trapped in an elevator, Michael and Fi stuck on jury duty together, or even to the inevitable "Christmas Carol" homage (with Sam as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Madeline as Christmas Past and Fi as the Grim Reaper).

(*)There's a guy who's working a lot lately, isn't he? Romo Lampkin's back on "Battlestar Galactica," he just made another "Leverage" appearance last week, and he has a recurring role on "Dollhouse" as an FBI agent. Casting directors love the Mark Sheppard.

Not much else to say, other than to note the amusing return of Fi/Sam tension, as they squabbled over who should be Mike's number one call. This one was just fun, all the way around.

What did everybody else think?

22 comments:

Jordan said...

"This would make a great Michael Westin story, if, you know, we were allowed to tell Michael Westin stories."

I tend to try to avoid previews of upcoming episodes of shows, because I always have the same reacton, "I didn't need to know that."

But in the Burn Notice preview, we learned the following things about the next episode: women walk around in bikinis, Sam cracks wise, Michael punches a guy in the face, and a bunch of people point guns at each other. I'm psyched, I wonder if Fi blows anything up.

This show may stick to a formula (although this episode broke from it a little), but it's one that rarely disappoints.

MF said...

I just got my first HDTV after having the same television for 8 years, but because of some wiring issues still to be worked out I only could watch in Stadard.

I was totally distracted by the quality of the viewing which resembled a soap opera (not the quality of the story and acting, of course.)

Was HDTV a bad idea??

They could show Michael Weston yogurt shopping and I'd still be enthralled.

Anonymous said...

I smiled all the way through too. Nice that we get to tell Michael Westin stories. Only thing I'd suggest is a different title: "Only Michael Westin's kung-fu can defeat Romo Lampkin's kung-fu!"

More of Michael Sheppard's cowbell is always, always welcome.

Hatfield said...

You know, I love this show, but last night left me a little unsatisfied (which is interesting because I seemed to enjoy last week's more than Alan at least, if not everyone else). Perhaps it was because the setup seemed like it was gonna be the awesomest coolness to ever be sweet, and that created unrealistic expectations, but I kept thinking it felt faker than normal.

However, the Sam/Fi stuff, along with Sam's scenes both with and about his date, were great. When he kicked that guy and told him he ruined something that coulda been special, I may have applauded. Hey, I'm an unrepentant Bruce lover, what can I say?

It was also nice to see Bly and Michael work together and make peace by the end of the episode. I hope Bly has a reason to come back at some point, now that he's no longer a heel. I can just see him making a hilarious face in reaction to something Seymour did.

All right, fine, I've convinced myself, it still ruled, just not as much as it maybe could have.

David J. Loehr said...

(*)There's a guy who's working a lot lately, isn't he? Romo Lampkin's back on "Battlestar Galactica," he just made another "Leverage" appearance last week, and he has a recurring role on "Dollhouse" as an FBI agent. Casting directors love the Mark Sheppard.

Don't forget Manservant Neville on The Middleman, who--in the original comic--was drawn to be Sheppard.

Off topic, but my word verification word is "dessest." I think that's when you refrain from having dessert. (Or else it's part of a court order restricting you from dessert.)

Mrglass said...

I wasn't a fan of this one, mostly because it wasn't clear why Michael didn't just let the gang rob the bank. Near the end we are told they planned to kill all the hostages, but before that, why would Michael fight back, what's in it for him?

Matter-Eater Lad said...

This was a very pleasant surprise -- I was in a foul humor last night and expected to be bored once it became clear that this would be a bank hostage episode, but the execution was very, very nicely done. I also like that Bly turned out not to be a caricature -- he was way, way too broad in his previous episode and the start of this one. Good work all around.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I wasn't a fan of this one, mostly because it wasn't clear why Michael didn't just let the gang rob the bank.

I just assumed Michael took the measure of the Sheppard character and assumed he had no good intentions for the hostages.

R.A. Porter said...

I was in hog heaven last night. The previews from last week let us know Bly was going to be back, but not that Mark Sheppard was going to be on. So I was already ready to enjoy the episode a lot and that got kicked up to 11 when Romo appeared.* The extra special part for me being that I'd apparently glanced away during the opening credits and missed Mark Sheppard's name. It was a total surprise for me when he walked into the bank.

And as for Bly, I think Alex Carter and Jeffrey Donovan have a really interesting chemistry together. As much as I've enjoyed Tricia Helfer and Michael Shanks as foils to Michael, I don't think anyone has been as good opposite him as Carter, except maybe Lucy Lawless.

And, to complete my fanboy geekout...Liam Fitzpatrick!

A great episode, especially following last week's letdown.

More of my thoughts in my review.

*Note to the SciFi promo department: take a few lessons in teasing from your corporate cousins at USA. They manage to create previews that entice but don't give away the farm.

Anonymous said...

"I wasn't a fan of this one, mostly because it wasn't clear why Michael didn't just let the gang rob the bank."


Since when has Michael let anything bad happen to innocent people???

Isn't that the whole point of the show and character? If you think Michael would let that happen you havent ever seen an episode

dez said...

I got a big kick out of this ep, especially at the end when we find out Michael did call Fi first, but she didn't answer (the extra-gloaty smile on Sam's face after the reveal and Michael telling him he would be the first call from now on killed me). Plus: Manservant Neville! W00t!

I also hope Bly comes back at some point (or two) now that he & Michael have a truce.

The only nitpick I have is that Michael-as-fake-doc and Michael-as-spy-voiceover were a little too similar. I know he was acting like an arrogant doctor, but it came across to me as Michael's usual confidence in his spy abilities, so I kept waiting for Manservant to notice something was a little off with him. I guess I figure even an arrogant s.o.b. would be somewhat nervous stuck with a group of men who were pointing their guns at him.

As much as I liked the "Leverage" version of the bank heist, the "Burn Notice" one was much, much more fun. I also liked that we didn't get any hostage clich├ęs--everyone just fell in line with whatever Michael wanted them to do. Like Seymour, they probably all realized what an amazing badass he is :-)

BigTed said...

I didn't mind the bank-robbery formula situation (just please don't let them end up at the horse races or the circus).

But I should point out that the best use of this formula ever was in an "X-Files" episode, when the robber's girlfriend kept going back in time and reliving the robbery over and over.

jordan said...

Is it just me, or should the character named Bly have been Sam's nemesis?

dez said...

I just assumed Michael took the measure of the Sheppard character and assumed he had no good intentions for the hostages.

Considering Bly's early attempt at heroics ended in Prescott threatening them all with death and then shooting Bly in the arm, Michael didn't need to assume anything--it was all laid out for him right there.

Hatfield said...

Jordan, you win! It's a shame Lord Bowler can't show up (RIP Julius Carry) but Billy Drago should take some time off from his busy schedule of awful horror films and come on as a bad guy of the week

Toby O'B said...

Just for a change of pace, I'd like to see Drago play the client in this show. Probably have most of the audience wondering when he'd turn on Michael....

Kensington said...

"I wasn't a fan of this one, mostly because it wasn't clear why Michael didn't just let the gang rob the bank."

At the risk of being painfully parochial...because it would have been wrong?

Kensington said...

My favorite moment was when Sam vented his anger at losing the heiress by kicking the bank robber at the marina. Bruce Campbell can make anything funny, seemingly without any noticeable effort.

kathy said...

I think was one of the best episodes of the series -- just Michael doing his thing, awesomely.

Any bets on who the next BSG alum will be to show up on Burn Notice? (please, no Callie).

Maura said...

I love a good bank heist story,and this was a good one. As Kathy said, just Michael doing his thing, awesomely. Especially considering he walked into something he was not expecting. He usually knows what he's getting into.

Great stuff with Sam and Fi fighting over Michael's trust and affection; also, I loved Sam desperately trying to start/save a relationship with his perfect woman. Poor Sam.

But I should point out that the best use of this formula ever was in an "X-Files" episode, when the robber's girlfriend kept going back in time and reliving the robbery over and over.

Agreed, BigTed. But this was a close second for me.

Anonymous said...

I must admit, when I started watching the episode, I was a little like "Oh dear. Burn Notice is going to give me a boring episode" and went on to do other stuff.

Then the robbery happened and I burst out into a huge loud squeal of glee that probably would have lasted the entire episode if I had the lung capacity.

Yes. That is great.

M.A.Peel said...

Hey, I got my Leverage/Burn Notice crossover!! Both Alex Carter and Mark Sheppard were in the "First David Job." Sheppard is recurring character Sterling, and Carter worked for him. It was a really great episode, more like the strength the series debuted with.

I think Timothy Hutton and Jeffrey Donovan could have fabulous scenes if the crossover ever happens for real, especially the Ford character of this episode.