Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 7/11/08

I have been waiting for the second season of BURN NOTICE the way my nephews look forward to a new Pokémon release: It cannot premiere fast enough! And last night was the night. The teases suggested that ex-spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan, ex-Dwayne, ANOTHER WORLD) might learn who burned him, but I didn’t think that was really going to happen — and it didn’t. Not really.

The mysterious semi dropped Michael into a war zone, complete with a burning plane and dead bodies. The mysterious female voice commanded him to return a bound-and-gagged man to Miami so he could steal some computer data. But that plotline was the MacGuffin to get Michael involved with his mysterious handler. The mystery voice belonged to Carla, who appears to be the face of the people who burned Michael — but honestly we don’t know if she is connected to that organization. (People rarely are who they appear to be on this show). Carla was played by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA‘s sultry Cylon Number Six, Tricia Helfer, but in a switch, it was her voice that was emphasized. She didn’t appear in the flesh until the final scene, in which she flirted with Sam (Bruce Campbell) and left Michael a teasing note. I know this is TV, but I have to wonder about the organization using Carla as a (literal) mouthpiece. Helfer is so statuesque that I think she would make a lousysecret agent — she’s too eye-catching. (BTW, Helfer is even taller and more beautiful in person, if you can believe it!) People notice her — and the last thing a spy wants is to be noticed. Then again, this is TV, so everyone is attractive. And if your cast already includes Gabrielle Anwar, then it takes a someone special not to get overshadowed.

I like to think of BURN NOTICE as educational TV, and the second-season premiere taught me a lot! I learned how to: evade high-speed pursuit through a forest without triggering my car’s airbags; surveil a security firm; make an accurate security floor plan from memory; cut through a concrete-and-steel floor; beat heat sensors and motion detectors; and which ammunition is best for destroying a computer hard drive (quadrangle buckshot) and shattering bulletproof glass (frag 12). Far warning to my office mates: Watch your backs!

But aside from the “This Old Spy” technical lessons, I enjoyed catching up with Michael’s friends and family. His mom, Madeline (Sharon Gless), is a paranoid mess — which is why he kept her in the dark about his spy career to begin with — but Sam seemed to have settled comfortably into Michael’s loft. (Raise your hands if you expected a product placement from Wonder Bread.) He even borrowed Michael’s clothes! Aside from Madeline, Fiona (Anwar) seemed most affected by Michael’s trip to confront his enemies. She dealt with her mixture of relief and anger with wisecracks and a succession of increasingly short miniskirts. When she finally pinned him down for “the talk,” she acknowledged that while they can work together, “We can’t be together.” Michael agreed, but as Fi left his vocie-over sadly noted that in the spy game it’s too easy to think of people as “assets” instead of human beings. “But you don’t miss the scent of an asset when she leaves the room,” he mused. Nice reference to Anwar’s most famous role, as the titular Donna in 1992’s Scent of a Woman.

I laughed when I recognized “Jimmy the Client” was played by Patrick Fishler, because earlier this week I happened to be discussing MIDDLEMAN with one of my colleagues, and I pointed how the dude who played Dr. Newleaf — Fishler — was one of those actors I call “That Guy”; someone whose face you recognize from a thousand small roles, but whose name is a mystery, so when you see him you go, “Oh, that guy!” (Look for him next in the third episode of the new season of MAD MEN.)

And look for the next Night Shift soon..

Originally posted on Soap Opera

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