Friday, January 23, 2009

A Winter's Frothy Burn

USA’s Burn Notice is an oasis of hot bodies and smart talk in Miami in the dead of this cold and difficult winter.

Michael Weston is a spy who has been fired from “the agency” (whichever it is). It’s more than losing a job: someone issued a burn notice on him, which means he has no identity, no past, no bank account, no social security number, nothing. Well, not nothing. He is lucky to have a “trigger happy ex girlfriend” Fiona and “and an old friend who used to inform on him to the FBI,” Sam.

Michael is Jack Bauer’s more ethical, sexier, and wittier cousin. The allure of both men is how skilled they are. In a world where so much doesn’t work the way it should, Michael shines because he can assess a situation, devise a plan, and make it work. That’s a fantasy in itself. He’s not perfect, and that makes his proficiency even more appealing.

The plots are entertaining. The family interactions were the weakest element of last season: Sharon Gless as his mother repeated herself too much, as did brother Nate. We’ll see if they are better written this year.

The feelings that Michael and Fiona have for one another are so obvious that their decision that they can’t be together seems a little silly. In the season premiere Fi playing army men with 6-year-old Jack was funny and charming: true to her gun-informed character, she explains the ordnance each figure is carrying, and suggests they get one of the guys “more tactical support” as Jack’s eyes get wider and wider in wonderment. Michael is equally taken with her, if he would just admit it.

Between the cold weather and the daily depressing news, it’s easy to feel down this part of the year. But Michael and cohorts are a fantasy tonic in Armani and size 2 dresses, with a dash of Sam’s Hawaiian shirts, all shaken and stirred. "Smooth is smooth, baby."