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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    USA’s underrated ‘Burn Notice’ prime for more seasons


    “Burn Notice,” the USA Network original series about a framed-and-fired spy and his explosive path to redemption, is nearing the end of its fifth season. On the list of decent TV shows canceled before making it to a fifth season: “Arrested Development,” “Dollhouse,” “Firefly,” “Boomtown” and “Deadwood.” “Burn Notice” has survived longer than cult-favorite comedies, sci-fi epics and HBO critically acclaimed series.

    Allow that to sink in for a moment.

    USA Network can attribute a large part of the success of “Burn Notice” to its expert handling of character development and chemistry between them. Jeffrey Donovan, as lead character and ex-spy extraordinaire Michael Westen, lends a particular professional precision to his role and combines it with a well-mannered sense of humor. Bruce Campbell, of “Evil Dead” fame, plays an affable, womanizing and cocktail-loving retired Navy SEAL originally brought in to spy on Westen but now his partner-in-crime, as he heartily enjoys his Miami lifestyle. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds; Sam Axe might end up being the iconic Campbell role when all is said and done.

    Rounding out the cast are Gabrielle Anwar, who plays Westen’s kick-ass female counterpart and former (and somewhat still) love interest Fiona Glenanne, and Coby Bell, as Jesse Porter, a distinct departure from his role as a cheapskate semi-football star in the lackluster show “The Game.” These two complete the diverse foursome and create some truly touching and hilarious moments throughout the course of the show.

    The series follows Westen on his path to figure out who “burned” him: A former spy, Westen gets dumped by the U.S. government and dropped in Miami. Along the way, the cast helps the average Miami citizen in a spot of trouble to stay afloat by using their unique skill sets. Some truly interesting situations come about as a result, usually involving explosions, car chases, gunfights or any other TV trope.

    Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of the series and I fully believe everyone should give it a shot. That said, the character development and storytelling are half the reason “Burn Notice” leaves viewers satisfied.

    But how many other shows can you name that can cram a healthy amount of action, complex subplots, government conspiracies and satisfying moments of humorous respite consistently into every single episode of five whole seasons?

    Television, at its core, should be a chance to indulge in what makes us human. Truly excellent television shows offer visual appeasement of our humanity, both in its flaws and merits. Whether that involves heavy-handed drama, laugh-until-you-can’t-breath jokes or something in between, great TV gives us a window into what it means to enjoy life.

    “Burn Notice,” somehow flying mostly under-the-radar for five seasons on the underappreciated USA Network, might be one of the most consistently great shows on television.

    You owe it to yourself to watch it, and if you’re not, just know you’re missing out on arguably the most satisfying show around.

    ­— Joe Dusbabek is a senior studying French and linguistics. He can be reached at

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