Friday, February 19, 2010

Burn Notice, "Partners in Crime": Crimes of fashion

A review of last night's "Burn Notice" coming up just as soon as I question the credentials of a lowly crime scene investigator...

After all the recent complaining about the Gilroy arc, "Partners in Crime" did a few interesting things. First, Fiona came right out and asked Michael why he can't just shoot the guy, and Michael gave a reasonable answer. Second, it kept Gilroy himself (and the hammy actor playing him) off-screen and just had Michael and Fi dealing with the Polish security guy. And third, the revelation of what Gilroy's trying to do - bust a terrorist supervillain off of a secured private flight - finally has me wanting to see where this goes from here. This mission has nothing to do (that we know of) with Michael getting unburned, but Michael trying to foil a mid-air hijacking, or whatever Gilroy's specific plan is, could be cool.

The case of the week was a mixed bag, I thought. Michael's cover identity was an entertaining one, particularly in the scene where he's going through the trinkets in his mark's office looking for something to kill him with. (And, since Jeffrey Donovan had already busted out a Russian accent earlier in the hour, he wasn't asked to provide a second, potentially goofy one for this guy.) We also need to see Michael take paying gigs every now and again just to explain how he affords to pay for yogurt and explosives and such.

But while I like the idea in theory of Michael screwing up and letting a client die, it didn't feel like "Partners in Crime" did enough with that, as it was too busy moving on to the new client, and contact mic shenanigans, and Bruce Campbell doing a Horatio Caine impression.(*) One of the series' big emotional arcs is Michael developing a conscience and a sense of compassion for others, and I think the writers missed an opportunity here to show how Michael dealt with the death of someone he wouldn't have cared about two or three years ago - particularly a death he felt like he could have prevented.

(*) Didn't love that, either. The "lowly crime scene investigator" line was about as meta as this show should ever get, and having Sam say a cheesey kiss-off line and snap on his shades - not once, but twice - was way off-tone for the way "Burn Notice" usually rolls.

Weird that we only have two episodes left of this season, but that's the way these USA shows roll in terms of splitting things up. The plus, I guess, is that the wait for season four won't be nearly as long as the gap between seasons of, say, "Breaking Bad."

What did everybody else think?

24 comments:

Devin McCullen said...

I agree that the motivations were kind of vague in this episode, but I don't know that this was a death that Michael felt he could have prevented. They were hired as investigators, not bodyguards, and there was no particular reason to suspect she was in danger.

OTOH, if the real point was supposed to be getting the innocent guy off, I'm surprised there wasn't a caption switch from "The Embezzler" to "The Client". (I'm not sure if that guy ever got a caption, now that I think about it.)

Christine said...

I really liked the guy playing Gilroy when he starred in "Mental." Here, he seems like he is trying to play Gilroy as an effete gay - did you see him check out Michael as he left the jacuzzi in "Enemies Closer?" But it's just too smarmy. Ick.

Inconnu said...

I'm sorry but the CSI bits were just so funny. The show is getting to predictable, so seeing the client die was surprising. (Seems more people are dying this season)

Stiff Shots Photography said...

The second Horatio Caine reference was arguably one too many, but I still laughed out loud at both. (And am I the only one who thinks a Burn/Dexter/CSI:M crossover would be seventeen different kinds of awesome?)

Remember, folks, this is not THE SHIELD: the good guys are always good, and they alway win in the end, despite a few setbacks (and in this ep, the setbacks were a bit more severe than usual). BURN continues to fall under the "light entertainment/popcorn TV" banner, a la HUMAN TARGET, but it's still smarter than the average dramedy.

Anonymous said...

disagree. loved when sam did his csi impression with the shades

cadfile said...

Loved the CSI call outs although the CSI show doesn't do the "Caruso" as much as it use to. I guess I thought it was funnier because "Chuck Finley" did it.

This had a bit more Sam action than the past couple of episodes which was fun.

The plot still was interesting because I half expected a double cross that Tim WOULD be the bad guy and he played Michael and Sam.

I also find the new info on the Gilroy arc makes me more interested in it.

Otto Man said...

Eh, I loved the CSI jabs.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It's not that the Caruso thing wasn't funny; it's just that it's not the kind of joke that belongs on a show like this. It was too self-aware. Psych could do a gag like that, or 30 Rock, or several other shows that like to dabble in that kind of meta humor. Burn Notice is a popcorn show, but at the same time it aspires to a degree of reality that a joke like that flies in the face of.

fgmerchant said...

I loved the Caruso lines! Me and my roommate burst out laughing each time!

Anonymous said...

Don't watch CSI, but figured there was something behind Sam's actions. I, too, liked where Gilroy's plot is finally taking us.

Two things bothered me in this episode (before Alan brought up the things that bothered him). Every now and again I get looped into believing that Michael, Sam, and Fi are going to get duped by their "client" and find out that they're not working for good guys and are pawns in some elaborate plan that they then get to unravel. When the client showed up dead, but face down, in the pool, I half expected it to be another women and they were set up by their client. These kinds of plot devices always happened on Moonlighting and they always added some complexity to the show.

Second, I was put off by the Polish guy just believing Michael and Fi were who they said they were. Some random Russian shows up and knocks you out, and then a day later a mysterious CIA woman shows up and he never questions her identification? That seems to happen a lot with people in Burn Notice. I think if someone showed up claiming to be CIA and asking for me to supply top secret information, I'd at least be a little inquisitive.

excentric said...

I don't watch any of the CSI shows, but even I thought the shout-outs were hilarious. I watch this show for the fun, not for thought-provoking storylines. Also, anything with Sharon Gless in it is a 'must see' in my book.

ShayDetta said...

I enjoyed the Horatio impersonation, no wait... I loved it!Sam is a pro but I can see him doing that impersonation during a mission for self amusement. Us Miamians know Burn Notice represents the city better than that joke of a show CSI: Miami.

Jim S said...

To fgmerchant,

The Polish guy did question Michael's cover, that's why he turned against Michael.

As for Fi, the Polish guy demanded to see a dossier on Michael before considering cooperating. And it's not like spies badge themselves when making contact with an asset.

Being contacted by "The Agency" seemed natural to the Polish guy, the money helped, and Fi did have to create a false dossier, so I'm giving that one a pass.

As to Chuch Finley doing Horatio Caine, come on, that's Bruce Campbell's bread and butter. I can take two line readings as long as the whole show doesn't become that. I can see Sam having some fun with the mark.

Toby O'B said...

The way I'm going to play up Sam's impression of Horatio Caine for Toobworld is that at some point in the past, Sam has crossed paths with Horatio, and so knows some of his moves....

dez said...

Don't watch CSI, but figured there was something behind Sam's actions.

Same here, and now that I know, I think it's even funnier than I did watching Sam do it.

The only thing I didn't care for was the weird accent or whatever of the fashion bad guy. It kept pulling me out of the caper and wondering why the hell they hired him.

I'm really looking forward to seeing who the Big Bad is. If we hadn't have seen Victor die onscreen, I'd wonder if it was him.

WWWeaves said...

Haven't watched CSI Miami in years, so didn't catch the reference. This episode was workman-like. And it was high quality work. But like everyone else, what I really want to know, is who is under that hood. But I'm torn, maybe it would be better un-spoiled.

Maura said...

The only thing I didn't care for was the weird accent or whatever of the fashion bad guy. It kept pulling me out of the caper and wondering why the hell they hired him.

He had me laughing from start to finish. He was like someone out of Zoolander.

Knowing what Gilroy is after has finally made me perk up and pay attention to his storyline. Now I want to see how it plays out.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if any television reference to other current television trends or personalities HAS to be "meta" moment and thus out of place in this case.

Unless "Burn Notice" is taking place in an alternate universe where television in the US is not overrun by forensic pathologist shows, I think it's perfectly plausible for Sam to draw on those trends and characters when he's called to play one as part of one of Michael's scheme. In fact, it would seem very much in character for Sam from my perspective for him to go to tv for inspiration.

Based on your criticism, Alan, are we to assume that television characters don't watch any television off-camera unless they make reference to such activities on camera?

dundus said...

I don't know if any television reference to other current television trends or personalities HAS to be "meta" moment and thus out of place in this case.

If you were at a crime scene in real life and one of the investigators did an impersonation of a TV character wouldn't you think it very out of place? Red flag behaviour? As things someone undercover would be doing, I'd think it would rate really close to the end of the list. It's just bizarre behaviour.

It makes much more sense as a meta reference for the character to do it than for an actual person to do it, because the actual person would look crazycakes.

However, when Supernatural does an episode about being trapped in different TV genres the meta goes with the flow. Here it felt like an awkward poke at the fourth wall in a way this show doesn't (normally it's just the spy tutorial).

Anonymous said...

I disagree also - really enjoyed Sam's antics.
I'm glad that Gilroy is off-screen a lot - and I did catch the "check-out" scene -almost fell out of my chair! None of it is lost on Michael, though. Couldn't get out of the jacuzzi fast enough! And he was smart enough the next time to wear a suit. I thought he had gained the upper hand - and maybe he had for a bit - but the new clips show Gilroy back in control. This is getting good...Looking forward to the faceoff.
Does anyone think this bad guy is anyone Michael knows?

Anonymous said...

I actually thought Sam played a character like CSI:M because the schwubs at the scene would expect their crime scene investigator to be exactly like Horatio Caine. It's those guys who watch too much television, not our heroes.

Chris Lawrence said...

My working theory is that "Management" (John Mahoney) is pulling the strings here, but I could be wrong. After all, they've brought in big name actors for about five minutes of screen time before.

Plus this sort of plot seems in the same evil vein as the assassination Carla was trying to pull off w/Bill Johnson (thwarted by Victor) at the end of S2.

Rob S. said...

This is a long-dead thread, but I finally got around to watching this on the Tivo, and I've gotta ask: was the fashion designer, Damon (Jeffrey Vincent Parise), horribly dubbed for some reason? And if so, why?

calebishere said...

I don't necessarily believe the CSI bit didn't belong. Sam does have a "cheesy" personality, (which is why we love him,) so I can see Sam throwing in those lines just to have fun with the role he was playing. Its something he would do. But either way, there's nothing wrong with the show occasionally reaching out to broader comedy. It keeps things fresh and it seemed inspired. I think the fact that burn notice IS such a straight laced show makes it funnier when it does loosen up. Besides from where i'm sitting it seemed to be a huge success. Though i'm rambling, we all have our opinions, doesn't make someone wrong