Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Burning love

I have only truly loved a few TV shows in my life. My first crush was Seinfeld, which I still quote in conversation and think was the best TV comedy ever. Then came the original Law & Order with its strangely hot ADA Jack McCoy and wise Detective Lenny Briscoe. My college roommate and I never missed the new episodes and would frequently lock the door and unplug the phone (oh, those grand days before cells and social media!) so as not to be disturbed.

More recently, I came to love that geriatric mainstay, CSI. For the first four seasons of CSI (the original, not those paltry also-rans CSI: Miami and CSI:NY), I was completely obsessed. Royal and I could usually guess the true killer's identity before the half hour mark, but the true draw of the show was Gil Grissom. He was a modern day Sherlock Holmes who was unabashedly nerdy, and quite open in his attitudes about sex. Rowr. Once the show started focusing on him less and the other (less interesting) characters more, our attention waned.

Then last week, we watched a marathon of Burn Notice episodes. And now I am in complete lust with this show. Jeffrey Donovan plays Michael Westen, an ex-spy who's been "burned," fired and deprived of his resources so he can never work again. Everyone seems out to get him, and he's out to find who burned him and why. He's been dumped in Miami, a city he left at 17 to escape a bad childhood and dysfunctional family (Sharon Gless plays his mother Madeleine). His only friends are Fiona, his gun-toting, former IRA ex-girlfriend (played by the gorgeous Gabrielle Anwar) and former military intel officer and current FBI informant Sam (the always wonderful Bruce Campbell).

A lot happens in any given episode. Things go boom, Fiona and Michael may or may not make out, Sam drinks mojitos (this show makes me crave alcohol something fierce) and Michael gets one step closer to unraveling the puzzle of his past. It is not the type of show I would normally find interesting much less completely absorbing, but the witty dialogue, likeable cast and intricate plots keep it from being a typical action show. Oh, and did I mention the hotness of its three main stars? This show is sizzling, and a lot of fun.

I really, really like Fiona. I love that she is played by a 39-year-old actress, and not a 20-something with little to contribute besides looking foxy in a bikini. Not that Fiona isn't foxy: this woman is incredibly lean and taut with freakin' 12-pack abs. But she's not a stock character or just a pretty face. She is deeply in love with Michael and her vulnerability with him obviously pisses her off. I like that she's tough and talks smack. BUT, in a scene in the second season, Fiona and Michael get into a fight as "foreplay." She's hitting him in the face, kicking him, throwing him down, but when he hits her he immediately freaks out and is all, "Sorry! Sorry!" Obviously he's bigger than her and she's ticked off that he hit her, but is it OK to hit a man, especially a man you love? I guess it's part of her complicated character, and we're supposed to see this as the main reason she and Michael couldn't make their relationship work. She's not a soft, anxious, behind-the-scenes girlfriend. She will kick anyone's ass who tries to mess with her man, her friends or even women she barely knows (a couple of episodes showed her getting enraged at men who had abused women) so I like that she's strong in that regard. But physical violence as foreplay... I don't think I can get behind her on that one. Still, Fiona's a great character and I can't wait to see what the next episode brings for her and Michael.

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