Category Archives: tv series review

TV Review: Burn Notice

My neighbor, Harry, strongly recommended that I check out a new television show called  Burn Notice.

Given how much TV I already watch, the thought of yet another hour of my life pissed away in front of the idiot box did not intrigue me. But Harry, whose taste in television maps closely to mine, was adamant that I had to watch this show.

So I fired up the TiVO system and got it on my list of things to watch. And watched it.


Burn Notice  is set in Miami, the TV land of over-saturated colors, pretty people, women who view clothing as a way to enhance nudity, and bad guys who dress way, way, way too well.

In this series, the lead, Jeffrey Donovan, plays the role of a CIA spy, Michael West, who got burned. Which loosely translates to: fired. A fired spy is a problem. His old friends no longer trust him or can associate with him. His old enemies have no use for him. And because he’s a spy he can’t just write his resume and describe his work experience of the past 10 years.

So our spy is trapped in Miami, surrounded by a drunk FBI agent Sam Axe played by Bruce Campbell,  a brother, Nate Westen played by Seth Peterson, who suffers from a gambling addiction, an ex-girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne played by a very attractive Gabrielle Anwar,  who likes to blow things up and a set of handlers whose job it is to make sure that our ex-spy never really finds out why he got burned.

In many ways Burn Notice is a superficial remake of The Prisoner. The village is Miami. The reason Michael Westen is in Miami is a mystery. Only someone in the CIA (our ever-present #1) knows why Michael Westen is in Miami. Every so-often the CIA or FBI handler (the #2) whose job it is to ensure that he stays in his place changes. And like in the Prisoner, our spy has to figure out why he is where he is all on his lonesome while surviving in a city with no money, no job experience and no friends.

This is great television.

Added some links

TV Review: Eli Stone

So maybe I watch too much television, and maybe the writers strike is problematic, but Eli Stone is a wonderfully quirky show.

Cast in the mold of Ally McBeal (when it was good) or Scrubs, this show blends the surreal and the real into a wonderful knot.

The protagonist is a lawyer who lost his moral compass and somehow found it just before it was too late. He found it when confronted with his own morality and a set of visions triggered by a brain aneurysm.

I like the shows style, zippiness, humor and character.

If you are looking for a single legal drama, and after suffering from the imploding Law and Order series, this may be my single legal drama.

TV Review: Demon Hand – Sarah Connon Chronicles

The return of Dr. Silverman is the theme of this show. Played by Bruce Davison, Dr Silverman is no longer the smug confident psychiatrist who is treating an insane patient. No this Dr. Silverman has seen the scales come off of his eyes. The horrors that Sarah Connor described, he now knows are not the ravings of a lunatic but predictions of the future.

So he flees into the wilderness waiting for judgement day.

And when James Ellison finally catches up with the good doctor,  to provide evidence that Sarah was not insane, the poor FBI agent is captured by the now insane psychiatrist. Because this Dr. Silverman does not need any more evidence to prove anything.

This show continues to be the most compelling bit of television now playing.

Sarah Connor Chronicles

So what makes this show compelling is unclear.

One aspect that dearly works is the lead. Unlike Linda Hamilton who in T1 and T2 were the movie’s weakest link, in this show Sarah Connor is played with restraint. There is none of the mayhem or chaos or bad acting. Instead we have despair, desperation and hope finely balanced.

Another aspect is the terminator who acts as John’s bodyguard. Both in T1 and T2 the future warrior was poorly acted. In T1 the actor delivered some memorably poorly acted lines. In T2 Arnie had become such a star that we had him attempt to show the softer kinder gentler Terminator. So much so that he obliterated some of the scariness of the machines.

In this show the terminator is disturbing. We don’t see her as a loveable Data, the robot from StarTrek like we did Amie in T2, but something sinister. Something that could blow up at any moment in time. And that makes you uncomfortable. She’s almost like a pet lion. Sure the lion seems friendly, but is it, really?

So maybe it is the acting and the character development.

But that discounts the plot a lot. One of the frustrating aspects of the movies was the fact only one person got through. But with a time machine I could keep trying again and again. One angle the series has explored is the notions of a temporal war. Essentially both future factions send commando’s into the past to perform missions to ensure final victory. In come cases John stumbles on these plots must deal with them.

Again after 4 episodes, I must strongly recommend this show.

Movie Review: Knight Rider 2008

Alone at home watching on my TiVo, the made-for-tv move Knight Rider.

Image:Knight 3000 KITT.PNG

I didn’t think it was possible to be both worse and better than the original at the same time.

And yet the writers of this show achieved the impossible.

The part they nailed was the peculiar relationship between the driver and car. Ironically they nailed that in ads and not during the actual show.

The parts that are unquestionably better are the special effects.

The parts that are worse is the acting and the story line. The cheese effect was so high that I am darned certain that years were shaved off of my life.

Of course, when I say worse, I mean it in a relative sense. Any show from the 80’s will be worse than a show produced now. However, given the standards we have for today, this was relatively worse.

And what was really bizarre was that unlike the original show that was clearly targeted towards youngish boys, this show chose to have some pretty adult material. For example, in the opening segment we have Sydney Tamiia Poitier,

playing the role of  FBI agent Carrie Rivai, who is showering off the salt after a day of surfing, and we get a real close-up of her barely covered chest. And just when it could not get any weirder, she’s chatting with her female one-night stand whose mostly naked. And just when you thought you’d seen it all, to prove this is a straight person’s show, we see Michael Traceur in bed with woman, when another scantily clad female joins him a few seconds later.

And fine even if I could get over the sex, there was your usual assortment of  over-the-top violence.

I’m not a prude, but this level of sex and violence, was odd.

And, come-on, Michael Traceur is Michael Knight’s son?

I don’t think this will be back…

TV Series Review: Sex and The City

My wife and I, relatively, recently saw the entire six seasons of Sex and the City. The story of four New York women in their 30’s. The series is as much about being single and female in your 30’s as it is about living in Manhattan as it is about New York.

The first four seasons are the best of the show. We follow Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) from her failed relationship with Mr. Big (played by Chris North) to her engagement and her final realization that she’s not the marrying type. In the middle we see her all of her friend Samantha’s sex lives, her WASPish friend Charlotte York’s marriage and divorce to the perfect husband, and Miranda Hobbes on and off again love affair with Steve Brady.

What makes the first four seasons so entertaining is that the characters are never pathetic, the story line is funny, and the focus is on the good and the bad of New York. Some of my favourite episodes involve New York and the challenges of trying to find a relationship.

In Season 1, Carrie remarks that single people when they are the guests of married people are expected to share the sordid details of their single life. This way the married couple can both vicariously live through the single persons’ life AND be relieved they are married. I often thought that was how I watched the show.
Unfortunately Season 5 and 6 were collarateral damage of 9/11. Season 5 took place in 2001, and it was hard if not impossible to write about New York without breaking your heart. So much so that the characters actually went to West Coast in season 5, and fled all the way to Paris in season 6. Worse, whereas Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda grew out of their 30’s, Carrie remained stuck. And somehow her stuckedness was pathetic not liberating or exhilirating.

The series finale involving Carrie fleeing to Paris only to be rescued by Mr. Big in a scene straight out of Sleepless and Seatle was disappointing if not downright irritating.

The series was great for four seasons, fine for a fifth, and ended miserably.
But it did have it’s moments.