Posted 8 August 2008 in Television by Catriona
I’ve mentioned before, I think, how much I’m enjoying Burn Notice. It surprised me—in fact, I think it even surprised the network. They’ve certainly been advertising it as “the surprise hit of last summer.” Of course, it was treated badly on Australian television, which has only just got around to airing last season’s finale.
It’s light and fun, Burn Notice, especially for a spy programme. In fact, that’s one of the things I enjoy most about it; we’ve had at least two episodes dealing with the Russian mafia, but you can be sure that no one’s getting an electric drill to the kneecaps.
But as far as spy programmes go, Burn Notice is essentially a cross between Alias and Lovejoy. Does anyone remember Lovejoy? The books drove me nuts fairly quickly, because I have no patience with men who have no compunction about slapping women around to get their way, but the television series was fun. But the most interesting thing about Lovejoy was the way the books gave hints about how to fake antiques.
Burn Notice does the same thing, but with spy techniques and equipment, most of which can apparently be created with equipment available at a local Harvey Norman (or the American equivalent). I don’t know how accurate their spy tips are, but I’m certainly keeping them in mind, in case I need to impress people at parties (or, at a pinch, escape from the Russian mafia).
But one of the things I enjoy the most is Fiona, the main character’s former IRA ex-girlfriend.
I have a soft spot for Gabrielle Anwar anyway, reaching back to when she was Sam, the bitchy head of graphics at the Junior Gazette. She’s looking slightly too thin, these days, is curiously orange, and seems to have done something to her upper lip. (And, honestly? Leave the upper lip alone. I don’t care how good plastic surgery is getting these days, there’s no way to plump the upper lip without ending up looking rather like a duck.) But still: she’s Gabrielle Anwar and she’s lovely.
But Fi—Fi is fun. And Fi subverts a lot of the conventions that normally shackle the protagonist’s girlfriend. When Fi puts on a apron, it’s usually a sign she’s cooking up a batch of C4. And the fact that she does it in an apron makes me think that they’re playing with these conventions deliberately.
Add to this Sharon Gless—who’s fabulous as always, and has a glorious, over-the-top house that hasn’t been redecorated since the early 1970s and which I covet—and Bruce Campbell—who is, essentially, Bruce Campbell—and you have something that’s always going to be fun to watch.
I certainly don’t think it’s the greatest television programme ever made: it’s not Dexter or Deadwood, by any stretch.
But then neither Dexter nor Deadwood had Bruce Campbell in them.
Life’s all about these little trade-offs.