Burn Notice series 5, starring Jeffrey Donovan PREVIEW

Grant Show as Max and Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in Burn Notice. Pics: FX UK

Rating: ★★★ 

FX UK: starts Monday, 16 July, 9pm

Story: It’s been six months since Michael Westen was welcomed back into the fold. Armed with a list of people who have burned him, Michael works with the CIA to investigate and dismantle the secret organisation that got him kicked out of the intelligence service.

Burn notice rescinded! Or almost rescinded, anyway, as Michael Westen is coming in from the cold, where he has been since the series began in 2007 as the CIA outcast trying to find out who ‘burned’ him, or kicked him out of the agency and froze all his money.

Having finally got hold the list of people behind his expulsion in the last series, Michael was told ‘Welcome back’ and has been tracking down those on it, with the wider aim of destroying the covert network.

Friction with his new CIA buddies

Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona

As series five comes to FX UK, this opener finds him in Caracas where he is after the final name on the list, an American called Kessler, who is living in a fortified compound.

Having operated on his wits for four years as an unlicenced private investigator, Westen now has to rub along with his new CIA buddies, who are not eager for him to bring in his team on ops – that is Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael’s girlfriend and former IRA ‘operative’ with an American accent, and Sam (Bruce Campbell), former Navy SEAL.

Burn Notice is a slick hour of undemanding action entertainment that is not remotely believable. Westen and his spy team are about as convincing as a bunch of Big Brother contestants, while the shootouts are punctuated by wisecracks from Westen and his CIA handler, Max.

Nice to see Sharon Gless
Michael’s narrative voiceover is totally bogus too, failing to give any gravitas to his insights into spycraft, with gems such as, ‘As a spy, your job is intelligence.’ Gee, really?

Sharon Gless, Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar and Bruce Campbell

Homeland is ten times more compelling on the complexities and dark side of intelligence work, where Burn Notice has more in common with quaint old hits like Mission: Impossible and I Spy.

Still, it is nice to see Cagney and Lacey‘s Sharon Gless again, here a little wasted as Michael’s mother mouthing homilies such as, ‘Nothing is beyond saving if you work at it.’ Someone offer her a role in the next series of Homeland, please.

Gripes aside, the show’s characters – particularly Michael, Fiona and Sam – and the glam settings have certainly caught the eye of an audience – one that presumably is extremely tired after a long day at work. Series six started running Stateside earlier this summer.

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  1. Pollyanna says:

    Don’t be so serious! No one takes Burn Notice seriously. It’s meant to be far more comedy than drama. We all understand that the lead characters are more or less winking at the audience in every episode during some of the more outrageous stunts.

    It’s meant to be as far removed from Homeland as The Taming of the Shrew is from Hamlet.

    Re Anwar’s accent: it ain’t American, either. That’s for sure.

    I agree Sharon Gless is wasted here. Of course, she’s lucky to be working at all in TV. Such is the fate of females of a certain age – in the U.S., at least.

    I really enjoy your blog as a resource for keeping up on what’s forthcoming and worth watching on British TV.

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