Forget Miami Vice: Burn Notice is now TV's coolest look at Miami
But I’m convinced there’s a new show ready to take the title as coolest TV series set in Miami: USA Network’s Burn Notice.
And as the cable channel’s sorta funny, sorta action-y, sorta Florida crazy sleeper hit returns for its second season at 10 p.m. Thursday, I’ve got five reasons ready for why it’s the hippest program about the Magic City filmed since Sonny Crockett stepped off his last cigarette boat:
Reason #1: Michael Westen – Stuck in his Miami hometown after someone in the spy world issued a “burn notice” ruining his reputation, Jeffrey Donovan’s Westen is a savvy, surprisingly talkative weapons and fighting expert with a soft spot for hard luck stories and a knack for predicting his opponent’s next move. As the new season starts, he’s manipulated by a beautiful “handler” Carla, who knows his friends and family, seems connected to whoever burned him and somehow stays ahead of the one guy who is always two steps ahead of everyone else.
Reason #2: Bruce Campbell -- Fans of low budget film will recognize Campbell as the king of B-level movies and TV (Evil Dead, The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr.) Lately, he’s made a sideline of stealing scenes as a supporting player (he’s the annoying ring announcer, annoying French waiter and annoying usher in all three Spider Man movies), a habit he maintains here as Westen's boozy, womanizing ex-Navy SEAL pal Sam Axe. Every great spy series needs a sidekick who can come up with information and comic relief when needed, and Campbell always delivers.
Reason #3: The Explanations – Westen’s coolest trait is his tendency to explain how espionage works in deadpan voiceovers. In Thursday’s episode, he’s posing as a brutish diamond merchant to scope out a security firm Carla is making him burglarize, noting if you “accuse a guy of having bad locks, before you know it, he’s telling you where his motion detectors are.” For spy show geeks like me, it’s priceless.
Reason #4: The capers – Frankly, watching Westen try to figure the hopelessly convoluted story of who burned him is getting tiresome. But the side jobs his out-of-work spy takes on for cash – or because Carla makes him – allow Westen and Co. to shine. This season, he’s infiltrating a band of mercenaries just before busting up a drug cartel to help a beautiful DEA agent. Who needs Bond when you’ve got this?
Reason #5: The ladies – No Miami series would be complete without fashion-model pretty women, and Gabrielle Anwar’s saucy sidekick Fiona Glenanne -- Westen’s ex-girlfriend and a former IRA operative – combines beauty and a taste for mayhem that is intoxicating. Toss in Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer as Carla and Sharon “Cagney & Lacey” Gless as Westen’s chainsmoking, too-needy mom, and you have three more great reasons to miss those ER reruns on Thursday nights.