I tend to enjoy USA’s original programming. They have a way of blending comedy and drama that makes their shows exceedingly entertaining. Unfortunately, this is also what’s stopping them from making any sort of really important television. USA series like Monk, White Collar, and Psych are all very premise driven. While there are good characters within each premise, the network seems reluctant to alter the tone or style of the show from season to season, and that makes it difficult to give the characters a means of growth and change. This is why I’ve never watched more than a few seasons of any USA show, and why jumping into Burn Notice on season 7 was no problem at all.
The premise behind Burn Notice is that former secret agent (Jeffrey Donovan), along with his secret agent ex-girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar) and best friend (Bruce Campbell) use their government training to secretly help those in need. Like most USA series, it’s a decent idea with a lot of potential, and like most USA series, that potential is never utilized satisfactorily.
Donovan has never been a strong actor, but he’s a good fit for the show because he’s handsome and looks like a basic cable action star. His on-screen chemistry with Anwar brings some heat to the screen, but watching the series, one has to give a lot of the credit of that to Anwar. Donovan is stiff in his role of the smooth talking James Bond type.
I’ve never really seen the appeal of Bruce Campbell as an actor. His jokey turns in Sam Raimi’s Spider-man trilogy, as well as the extremely campy Evil Dead series don’t scream good actor to me, but I will say that his character here is the best acting I’ve seen from him. His character is cool and confident, with a reserved tough guy thing that works well. He’s your best friend and the most dangerous person in the room when he wants to be. Campbell also feels more natural and comfortable in his role than anyone else in the series.
All the standard espionage tropes are alive and well in this season of Burn Notice. Agents being captured and drugged, gathering intelligence on each other, Russian and Cuban terrorists, and guns guns guns. There are some plot twists that you won’t see coming, but none strike me as particularly amazing, and I definitely haven’t been hooked into sticking around for season 8.
Available now on DVD from 20th Century Fox.