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Archive for August, 2008

Aug
22

Burn Notice: Rough Seas

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082208 1410 burnnoticer1 Burn Notice: Rough Seas(S02E07) “Sounds like the world’s worst game show.” – Sam Axe

Finally, Michael gets himself involved in someone else’s problems in a truly organic way. Like most of you, I was tired of people seeking Michael’s help like he was Robert McCall Jr. So when he came to the defense of Seymour, it was really refreshing to see.

Speaking of Seymour, I was surprised to see Silas Weir Mitchell playing a character who was so socially functional. After his stint on Prison Break
and Earl
I wasn’t sure if he was even acting.

Unfortunately, it only took until after the opening credits for someone to ask for Michael’s help. Virgil didn’t make much of an impression on me the first time around. His intended phone call to Michael’s mom helped me remember who he was but it also made me wonder why Mike would get involved with this guy again after everything that happened last time.

The cute way that Virgil and Madeline and everyone was playing off their relationship really didn’t work for me. Michael had a point about Virgil attracting bullets and was doing what any good son should. It didn’t make sense that Virgil would ask Mike for a favor and still push so hard to get with Madeline or that she would still be interested in him considering how freaked out she is by guys with guns. I didn’t buy it.

Watching Michael and Seymour try to work together was hilarious. It actually reminded me of shows like Tenspeed and Brownshoe or Crazy like a Fox where one partner would get the other involved in something really dangerous just so he would have his back. If Seymour doesn’t at least become a semi-regular, I will be very disappointed.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I love this show is because it actually shoots in Miami. That fact offers a host of things that a Hollywood sound stage can’t. Case in point, Gerard the thief and his crew. Only in Miami, Florida could you a find a group of extras who look that sleazy and worthless. It made me long for Art Deco days.

Out of all Michael’s covers, this nerdy character was definitely my favorite. The inhaler, the fast talking and the running like a dork were all more believable than anything he’s done thus far. I only hope that like the “spy for hire” thing, his “cover of the week” doesn’t get overused.

Michael and Virgil’s little play on the boat was awesome. That scenario has been done a dozen times before in movies and on TV, but Michael’s solution was pretty original. The only thing better was his reaction after recognizing his fridge.

This was an episode that can only be described as kick ass. Aside from the fact that there weren’t enough hot ladies for my liking, I thought it was the best offering this season. I’m thinking the return of the yogurt was a sign that this show will only get better. At the very least, I’ll definitely be back in three weeks

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Aug
19

Burn Notice promo kits are cool, but …

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081908 1528 burnnoticep1 Burn Notice promo kits are cool, but ...Here’s a neat idea: the Burn Notice promotional kits that USA Network sent out to Emmy voters were written in invisible ink! You needed a UV flashlight to read the words, which was included in the kit. The Denver Egoist has all of the details and several pics from the kit, created by TDA Advertising in Boulder, CO.

The kit, which contains 12 episodes of the show on four DVDs, is set up to look like a classified file, and though some of the words are legible, you need the flashlight to read the others. Very cool and very spy-ish, though I wonder if they should have done it a different way. Isn’t the preferred method of getting secret messages to Michael via a crossword puzzle? They should have included a secret message about the show inside of a crossword too.

Of course, these went out before the Emmy nominations were announced. The show wasn’t nominated, and Jeffrey Donovan and Bruce Campbell weren’t nominated for their roles. Interestingly, Sharon Gless was nominated, but for her guest spot on Nip/Tuck, not Burn Notice. The show did get a technical award nomination.

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Aug
18

‘Burn Notice’ recap: Method acting

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081808 0928 burnnoticer1 Burn Notice recap: Method acting

Was it me, or was Madeline much more subtle upon last night’s return? She didn’t whine. She didn’t nag. She didn’t demand Mike get therapy or reconcile with Fiona. Or make him coddle Nate. She just smoked like a dragon, drank like a fish, and kept things light and hilarious. She called her VCR a “home theater system” for Pete’s sake. Between that and her ancient coffee pot, I half expected her to pull out a magic lantern and claim she’d gone HD.

I’m a bit chuffed over how I predicted that Sam and Madeline would be bunking together. Though I assumed it would be because Mike sickened of him, his beer, and his chips, not because Madeline needed protection from a crazy new covert operative (Stargate‘s Michael Shanks) assigned by Carla to “wrangle” our guy. His code name: Victor. His act: insane. His mission: Force Mike to assist with a smash-and-grab heist on a local pier. His vibe: a bit boring, if I do say so myself. “Help us or we’ll come after you and your family”? Snore. Didn’t Timo already pull this on Trevor last week?

Victor wasn’t even a good foil to Mike. He was too predictably unpredictable. You knew he wasn’t going to let Michael sever his radial artery with a chess piece and that he was packing fire under the table. You knew if Michael ignored him he’d show up and ruin Michael’s job. You also knew he’d want to kill the security guards on the pier, but that Mike wouldn’t let him. And you tired of his twitchy, psycho killer act (“The last man who insulted me had to fish pieces of his tongue out of a garbage disposal”) and his love of rocking flower patterns in about five to ten minutes.

That said, the heist itself really piqued my interest. First off, can you actually make an X-ray machine in the trunk of your Buick using old TV parts and a taser gun? Are professional, government-sanctioned thefts pulled off in broad daylight? Why would a Chiquita Banana facility be hiding sniper rifles? Moreover, what do Carla, Victor, and Co. want with the gun? Is it to use on Mike? To make Mike use? Or, as I believe, is it because they are truly a good operation trying to stop the bad guys from getting the weapon? Plus, when did Fiona start making friends at veterinary clinics that are willing to develop large films of scary weaponry for her?

But let’s get back to the bad guy/good guy thing. Last night’s job involved the younger brother of Mike’s childhood best friend Andre. Little Ricky (played by one of the series’ best writers, Ben Watkins) is now all grown up and an accountant to Miami’s most dangerous gangster-turned-hip-hop mogul Valentine (Method Man, in the snazziest white suit and smoking the fattest cigar ever). Seems scary enough without adding that Valentine’s number two, Eddie Ash (Felicity‘s Rob Benedict), embezzled a boatload of cash from the rapper and framed Ricky. Considering that Valentine called a board meeting just so he could whack a dissenting worker over the head with a platinum record à la De Niro in The Untouchables, I’d say Ricky had reason to be freaked. Mike’s plan to pose as Boston-bred, mob-connected, diamond-wearing money launderer Jimmy Glynn and get Ash to admit he stole the money nearly worked — until Victor busted in and told Ash that Jimmy had the feds after him, which just seemed to raise the stakes. Thinking he needed to clean his money immediately and tie up all lose ends, Ash sent a kill squad to Ricky’s house. Enter Fiona, flashing her abs, her thong, and her rock-throwing abilities to foil the initial hit and Sam to pose as a disgruntled music lover (so what if he likes Kenny G., Barbara Mandrell, Captain & Tennille?) in order to kidnap Valentine and make him watch while Ash tries to do away with Ricky on his own.

Still, no matter how terrible Ash was, or how frightening Valentine could be, I still don’t think it’s right how Mike seems to happily let the bad guys of Miami murder each other. I buy what you guys said in your comments about the system sucking and jail not working, but I can’t help thinking prison would have been better for Eddie Ash than getting pushed off Valentine’s boat. Nearly five people witnessed him trying to kill Ricky and admitting to the embezzlement scheme. Sounds like a slam dunk case to me. Then again, Ash could have always turned on Valentine and gone state’s evidence, ending up in witness protection out west (I have been watching too much USA). So maybe he did get what he deserved. And why would such a good guy like Ricky still want to work for Valentine after having proof that he’s a murderer?

Speaking of getting what’s deserved, I’m glad Fiona is finally demanding things (like money) from Mike for her work. We know Sam’s got a pension, but what does she have to live off of? The odd bounty hunter job? Selling her snow globes? I’m also happy she’s playing the market — just interested to know when Mike will too. As for Sammy, he once again delivered my favorite line of the night, when telling Mike to take a “little sippy sip” of his curry.

So what did you guys think about last night? For my money, it wasn’t the greatest episode, but it was solid. And can anyone tell me when Tricia Helfer is coming back?

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Aug
12

Jeffrey Donovan Puts Us on Burn Notice

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Burn Notice‘s ex-spy Jeffrey Donovan remains tight-lipped about his USA Network hit and… kissing Angelina Jolie? (Burn Notice airs Thursdays at 10 pm/ET, USA.)

TV Guide: What’s coming up for “burned” spy Michael Westen? Any big cliff-hangers?
Jeffrey Donovan:
My line is
always “tune in and find out.”

TV Guide: You can’t reveal anything about what’s coming up?
Donovan:
I
like to leave that to other
people. I’m never sure what
I’m supposed to keep silent
and what I can give away.

TV Guide: OK. While shooting Season 1, you got injured many times doing your own stunts. Any Season 2 injuries?
Donovan:
Surprisingly,
none. Here’s the funny
thing: I’ve been hurt zero
times on set and a few times at
home. I walked off a boat and
fell on the dock and ripped my
knee open. And I was trying to
open a drawer and the ceramic
handle broke off and slashed
my hand open. So I’m going
to do all my own stunts on the
show, and my stunt double is
going to live my life.

TV Guide: You recently turned 40. I don’t believe it.
Donovan:
I know. It’s a surprise
to everybody. I just try to
take care of myself. I’ve never
smoked. I don’t do drugs. I
just have a really clean diet.
I’m really proud of it. I think I
look good for 40.

TV Guide: Well, you’re making the rest of us look awfully lazy.
Donovan:
It’s hard
work — regular exercise and
being strict on set. I’m not the
guy eating Krispy Kremes and
drinking Mountain Dews. I
can’t. It will just kill me. With
the energy I need for 14-hour days, it’s just impossible.

TV Guide: On top of that, you know all sorts of kung fu, right?
Donovan:
I don’t
know any kung fu. I have a
black belt in karate and six
years of aikido and about a
year of Brazilian jujitsu.

TV Guide: So you could beat me up pretty handily?
Donovan:
Only if you threaten
me or my family. Otherwise,
I’m talking my way out of it.

TV Guide: Do you ever go online and read what Burn Notice fans have to say about you?
Donovan:
Hell, no. I’m
scared to read something bad
about me. What if someone
said something mean like
“Donovan can’t act”? I don’t
want to read that. I like to live
in my little fantasy bubble that
people like me.

TV Guide: Clint Eastwood obviously likes you. He cast you opposite Angelina Jolie in his upcoming mystery, Changeling, out this October. How did you feel when you got the part?
Donovan:
It was kneebuckling.
To say that you’re the
male lead opposite Angelina
Jolie in a Clint Eastwood
film — it’s one of the best memories
of my whole career. And
then they didn’t disappoint.

TV Guide: Are you the romantic lead?
Donovan:
No. It’s a period piece where Angelina’s son disappears. I’m the police captain who finds him.

TV Guide: So you didn’t get to kiss Angelina?
Donovan:
No.

TV Guide: Damn, I really wanted to live vicariously through you.
Donovan:
[No
answer. Absolute silence.]

TV Guide: All right. Did you party with Angelina and Clint at Cannes, where the film debuted?
Donovan:
I did
not. I was working on Burn
Notice. I was actually going to
poison everyone here for two
days so I could fly over there.
But I couldn’t find any poison.

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Aug
08

Burn Notice: Scatter Point

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080808 1254 burnnotices1 Burn Notice: Scatter Point(S02E05) “Sammy’s gettin’ some hammy tonight.” – Sam Axe

How great was it seeing Michael and Fi still sitting in that car? I like to imagine that they were sitting there for an entire week while we waited for the new episode.

Not that I didn’t enjoy Michael’s how-to on exposing covert security but I feel bad for the delivery guy. As if it isn’t bad enough to get to the delivery and realize you’ve been pranked, this poor guy is also going to get the crap beaten out of him. No wonder Michael helps everyone he meets. He has a lot of bad karma to make up for.

After so many weeks of being an easy touch, I loved seeing Michael really try to turn Trevor away. In fact, it wasn’t until Trevor played the father/son card that Mike finally gave in. The scene was really quite moving and Maurice Compte gave a much more sensitive performance than most of the actors who play clients. The best part is that the father/son angle is more evidence that Michael’s father may show up before the season is over.

It was brought to my attention that last week’s episode was very similar to most plots of Mission: Impossible. Michael befriended the bad guy and then burned him and in the end the bad guy looked like a rat and was dragged away by his cronies. Tonight’s offering gave me the same feeling when we were introduced to Timo and his crew. Even the inclusion of Robin Givens reminded me how a well-known actor like William Shatner or Eartha Kitt would appear to spice things up.

While I’m on the subject, Oded Fehr has been absent from television for far too long. I’ve been a fan ever since I saw him in The Mummy and I have always thought that he would be great in his own action series.

Once again, the comedy team of Campbell and Anwar do what they do best. I don’t know what was funnier; seeing Sam trying so hard to be assaulted or watching Fiona stand by and take her time before she screamed.

Was it just me or was Michael using one of his signature accents as Joseph the safe cracker? I guess I should be thankful that this one was a little more subtle than his Texan or his South African dialect.

I don’t really know what to say about Sam’s situation other than I really, really hope we get to meet his wife.

Once again, Michael solved the problem by eliminating the bad guy who was causing it. I wonder if the writers are consciously trying to make the show look like MI or if there just inspired. In either case, Rollin Hand would be proud.

As for Carla, I am totally digging the little pieces of information that we get with every episode. Moreover, it’s so refreshing to see Michael have to match wits with someone who is at least as smart as him if not smarter. I still have no clue what Carla’s story is but with all the buildup she’s getting, it better be a good one.


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Aug
01

‘Burn Notice’: In Soviet Russia…

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080108 1735 burnnotice1 Burn Notice: In Soviet Russia...

I can only imagine that it is bad news to be involved with any mobster outfit, especially those featured on Burn Notice. If you somehow get lucky and happen upon those who can truly help your cause, thank your lucky stars.

Spoilers are like fine wine… it’s liquid gold if you know what you’re doing.

Michael and Fiona are enjoying what appears to be frozen yogurt at the beach while Michael pores over Carla’s dossier, which appears to be largely devoid of any really juicy details. Fi lets slip the Lincoln that’s been tailing them all day. This is when Michael decides to flee the scene, Lincoln in tow. In a “kids, don’t try this at home” moment, he jumps from the moving car in order to push a random rickshaw in front of his tail. It turns out his tail is none other than his brother Nate.

Back at Casa Michael, Nate weaves his tale of woe: his secretary friend is in bad with the Russian Mafia and he needs Michael to step in and untangle the sticky web. The damsel in distress only wants to do good by bringing her sister to America. After she pays an initial $25,000 fee, she goes to pick her up, but as it turns out, the mobster-in-question wants double the initial fee or the sister dies.

Katya, Nate and Michael set off to do initial surveillance. Michael deciphers Ivan the bad guy’s tattoos: the spade for thief, the tiger for enforcer and the skull for murderer. Ivan seems like quite the charming fellow, don’t you think? Fi then continues to tail Ivan.

Later, Sam meets with an agricultural guy, Harvey Gunderson (played by Larry Miller with even less hair than I’ve ever seen on him). The purpose of this meeting is to find out how legit Carla is in the industry. Sam wants the info, but Harvey seems unwilling, for whatever reason, to part with it so easily. Too bad Sam can’t drink Harvey under the table.

All Sam has to show for his efforts the next day is a wicked hangover. Fi’s attempt to pin anything on Ivan went just as poorly. With their backs against the wall, the three plan on hitting Ivan hard for any kind of info. If they make him think this is the end of the road for him, he might just crack under the pressure.

Fi’s solo effort to take Ivan down does not go as planned, so Sam springs into action. Before he arrives to save the day, we learn that if you intend to use a stun gun on a person who is in contact with you in any way, you will be stunned yourself. Sensing that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, Fi takes one for the team and stuns Ivan anyway.

Sam and Michael end up building one badass interrogation cell to house Ivan. If they control all aspects of what Ivan can see, hear, eat and so on, and if they make him think all hope is lost, they might be able to better extract information. Once Fi brings Ivan back from the disorienting drive through the Everglades, he gets the third degree from Sam. Of course when you’ve dined in gulags more horrific than this, you’re not going to break as easily.

Sam suggests expanding the supporting cast to include everyone. Michael takes on the role of “Prisoner #2″ in order to gain Ivan’s trust. To look convincing, he needs to look the part. Enter Fiona, who proceeds to beat the living piss out of Michael.

080108 1735 burnnotice2 Burn Notice: In Soviet Russia...Once in the holding cell, Michael asserts his dominance and kicks Ivan’s ass. Working as Sergei from Tampa, Michael doesn’t initially learn much from Ivan… but that’s how these things start: slow and easy.

Fi and Sam stake out the Russian restaurant where Ivan focuses his energy. Thanks to thermal cameras, Fi is able to determine the top floor is heat-shielded. Inside, Sam points out the boss, Takarov, who looks an awful lot like a bad Larry Flint impersonator from the 70s. Sam plays up the angry customer, buying Fi the chance to get up to the third floor. What she hoped would be the missing girls turns out to be pirated computers running God-knows-what.

Sam makes one last go at extracting information from Ivan, telling him that the Russian outfit is near extinction. With Ivan still as strong as a rock, Sam places the shroud over his head and turns up the electronica. It was torture for me to hear what I did, so I’m not sure how long Ivan can hold out. Sam proceeds to change metaphorical suits and is off for yet another meeting with Harvey.

Back in the cell, Ivan finally lets Michael in on what he knows. Basically, he won’t say a word to the Americans, because the girls will be dead before they have any clue as to what happened.

As it turns out, Ivan isn’t the only one withholding info from Sam, so he kicks his other character into high gear. Before Harvey can enjoy the crab cakes, Sam flashes a DEA badge, insisting he gets the info, or else Harvey will be on the outside of the agricultural society looking in.

This is why they paid Sam the big bucks, kids.

Michael determines that Ivan must escape the holding cell and return to the girls for them to survive. Nate is skeptical of the plan, but ultimately agrees to help out.

By helping out, it’s Nate’s turn to take one for the team. Michael engineers the escape with a little help from Ivan. Nate is bitch slapped back to the Stone Age, while Michael and Ivan walk out unharmed. Michael insists not going back to Takarov without the girls, so he has Ivan tell him what he wanted to know all along… the location of the girls.

The two reach the house in Hialeah to find the guards not knowing what’s going on. Michael gets the guards to split up, making it easier to ultimately take the rest down and save the girls. Meanwhile, Ivan goes to Takarov, thinking he’s doing the loyal thing and forewarning him of the impending danger. Of course, there was no Sergei, no operation in Tampa, and so I guess that’s the last we’ll be seeing of ol’ Ivan.

In the end, Michael and Nate make nice, and Nate gets a kiss from Katya. All Sam got from Harvey was a PO Box address, so we leave Michael and Fi enjoying yet another surveillance session in the hot Miami sun.


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