By Andrea (AJ) Plaid and Arturo R. García
Arturo: On occasion, Andrea and I will catch up via Google Chat on this, that and the other. And as it happens,we got to talking about a shared favorite show, Burn Notice.
If you don’t follow the show, here’s the premise: The Adventures of Unemployed James Bond, with a side of Bruce Wayne Angst for the protagonist, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who does the whole A-Team “help those who can’t help themselves” thing while figuring out who and how he lost his job as a spy. Assisting him are his not-really-an-ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), professional kept man Sam (Bruce Campbell, chewing scenery like Sam drinks mojitos) and his increasingly conflicted mother Maddie (Sharon Gless).
Shot with an Ocean’s 11-style pizazz and buoyed by Michael’s “Dummy’s Guide To MacGyver” internal monologues for the audience’s benefit, Burn Notice slots in well alongside shows like Psych and White Collar as shows that get by on “quirk” – sometimes to the point of excess. But as Andrea learned, there’s definitely a method to the mirth. Ain’t that right?
AJ: Basically, when I complained on twitter that I didn’t understand the point of the USA Network shows, beyond an excessive amount of quirk, some head honcho from usa network tweeted back that they tested the shows and found that the formula of funny action-packed show with happy ending worked. I responded that winning formulas win winningly … what I should have added is that it becomes a formula of diminishing returns if every blessed show is the same formula.
Arturo: Now, unless you’re willing to “turn your brain off,” the ::ahem:: monochromatic nature of the principal cast, as seen above, looks especially problematic when you consider the show’s set in Miami, a city with a sizable Latino population. In what might be a back-handed way to address this disparity, two POC players entered the fold this season: spy-master Vaughan (Robert Wisdom) and, more prominently, counter-intelligence officer Jesse Porter (Coby Bell).