Cagney And Lacey

January 22, 2010 by USA Post 

burn-notice-a-dark-roadjpg-471394537ea469e3_largeCagney And Lacey:A quick review of the “Burn Notice” winter premiere coming up just as soon as I have the sewing skills of an orangutan…

“People need me. So I have to.” -Michael
“Yes, I guess you do.” -Madeline

The first half of this season of “Burn Notice” set up a couple of story arcs – Michael loses the “protection” of management, and Michael tries to get unburned – with a lot of potential I’m not sure the episodes entirely lived up to. But the back half of the season starts very strongly with “A Dark Road, which sets up an intriguing new adversary in the unseen Mason Gilroy, while also presenting a terrific episodic story for Michael, Sam, Fi and, especially, Madeline.

Like Chuck Bartowski, Madeline Westen is a character who’s reluctantly learning the tricks of the spy trade through someone she cares dearly about. Even if the casting of Sharon Gless’s old “Cagney & Lacey” partner Tyne Daly didn’t give the intelligence asset story an extra kick, seeing Madeline wrestle with befriending and then having to destroy Tina was a great showcase for Gless. It was also a nice exploration of the mother/son relationship and of Michael’s dawning realization that being a vigilante isn’t what he does just to kill time until he’s unburned, but a calling he can’t ignore.

The insurance scam plot also displayed the show’s reliance on good old-fashioned practical stuntwork, as we saw with the various high-speed car chase scenes. At press tour, “Burn Notice” creator Matt Nix turned up to talk about a show he’s doing for Fox called “Code 58,” about a cop with a mindset stuck back in the ’80s, but who’s effective despite his throwback methods. I watch a scene like Michael out-racing Ryan as a job audition, or Michael and Sam racing to stop Ryan from pulling the train scam without them, and I can see where Nix is coming from with the “Code 58″ character. Car chases used to be a staple on television and in movies, but they fell out of fashion, partly because there were too many of them, but mostly because people started getting lazy about them. When you do them with enough imagination and energy – and add them to a story and characters we care about even without the muscle cars – they can still be very, very cool.

And on top of that, we got the usual spy advice, like the value of using an acetylene torch as a kind of bullet-proof shield, or that you can fit a bug inside a car remote control keyring.

Couple all that with the intriguing marine stadium location, and the fact that Michael has no idea what Gilroy’s game is, and the usual Bruce Campbell-related comedy gold (“What’s wrong, Sam? I’ve never seen you drink a beer that slowly.”), and I was very happy to be back in this world again.

What did everybody else think?

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