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Friday, 10 October 2008

Burn Notice, FX

Did we like it?
This new Miami-set series about a spy who's been 'burned' (cut off with no resources) enjoyed an OK start. It was swish, glamorous, sexy, occasionally humorous but never quite compelling.

What was good about it?
• We weren't impressed with the start, where our hero Michael seemed arrogant and pretty annoying. But this was undercut as he got 'burned' right at a key moment in an important deal and was then beaten up. He escaped of course, but we liked his fallibility.
• It had everything you could want from a Miami drama - heat, cocktails, Cubans, a pumping soundtrack, long and unneccessary shots of females in bikinis and Angel out of Dexter. Of course, if that's not what you enjoy then this observation could easily be in the 'What was bad about it?' section.
• There was a nice line of humour as well, even if Michael's over-confident grins may become annoying. As Javier's son asked if Michael would shoot the thieves he was tracking, Michael replied that it wouldn't be necessary. The six-year-old countered: "What if they shoot at you?" and Michael, with a nice deadpan face replied: "Well, then it would be necessary so I would shoot them, yes."
• We quite liked the instructiveness of the show - Michael calmly dismisses standard movie spy procedure and explains the proper way to lose a car that's following you, or how to send a package to make it look like a bomb using just a moustrap, fertiliser and a kids' toy.
• There was a near constant soundtrack that drove the programme along and helped enormously to effectively communicate the Miami atmosphere.

What was bad about it?
• A familiar complaint for many pilot episodes - tons of exposition, and overbearing voiceover that won't shut up, a desperation to pack in and introduce as many characters as humanly possible in 46-odd minutes. It meant 'Press Gang' alumnus Gabrielle Anwar (Michael's former girlfriend Fiona) popped in early on and then disappeared without a trace.
• The opening in Nigeria was quite exciting, but as Michael revealed the tricks of meeting a contact in a foreign country and how to avoid being followed we couldn't help but notice he stuck out an absolute mile in his silver suit - he was hardly 'covert'. But then, what do we know about spying?
• It was good to see Sharon Gless (Cagney out of Cagney & Lacey) in the role of Michael's mum (sorry, 'mom') but the hot shit spy with a crazy mother felt a bit 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot' to us, so we're reserving judgement.
• OK, we quite liked the gratuitous bridiging shots of Miami beach babes (mainly their torsos and arses) but if we're being honest here, and there's no point doing otherwise, they came too often, they lasted too long and it felt an awful lot like padding to fill the time.

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