Monday, August 27, 2007

(US) Summer TV

Here are a couple of shows to tide you over while you're waiting for the new seasons of House/Heroes/BSG/all of the above. Download away.

Burn Notice

You'll watch because of the premise, you'll stay for the chemistry (acting and actual). Spy gets cut off and is stuck without money or legal contacts in Miami. Reconnects with his estranged mom and takes odd jobs to pony up enough cash to find out who burned him. Has two sidekicks: an on-off girlfriend who used to be an IRA bomber, and a retired CIA buddy who drinks a lot and collects sugar mommies.

Cool use of voice-overs and subtitles, especially when explaining surveillance techniques and spy protocol. It also gives the show a "MacGyver" vibe, which extends to the jerry-rigging and improvisation using hardware tools. But Michael Westen is an anti-Mac in that he's itching to get back in the game. He also doesn't have the do-gooding, tree-hugging, anti-gun image of Angus, preferring, instead, to wheel and deal and put one over the bad guys.

Jeffrey Donovan is not dashing like Bond but has this insincere smile that never fails to crack me up. Gabrielle Anwar is still hot and (unlike, say, Jennifer Garner) projects enough edge and moxie to make for a believable covert operative. And Bruce Campbell is Bruce Campbell.

Best viewed as a marathon, with friends and food.

Mad Men

The show costs 2.5 million per episode, most of which is spent on production design (for which it'll probably win an Emmy). It's set in Madison Avenue in 1960, the "golden era" of advertising where people smoked all the time, blacks were waiters and doormen, and women were housewives, secretaries, or mistresses.

The main storyline is a bit too soap opera-ish for me but the B plots are cool. In the first two episodes the structure of an ad agency is explained by copywriter hitting on a secretary, the idea behind the Lucky Strike "It's Toasted" slogan is shown, and the basic concepts of psychology and consumer research (taken for granted now, revolutionary for that time) is discussed.

The cast is a bit big but the first few episodes introduce us to everyone. Best viewed in installments.


Boom said...

Burn Notice is so much fun! You're right, you come for the premise and stay for the chemistry. I'm so hooked, I've never missed an episode.

Bruce Campbell got ooold.

The promos for Mad Men didn't give the impression that it was period piece. That kinda turned me off when I saw it. But yeah, the production value is Emmy-worthy.

missingpoints said...

I take notes when I watch "Mad Men." I'm gonna use clips for my advertising class.

Burn Notice is on hiatus. Crap. Oh, and Gabrielle Anwar is hot but looks way too skinny to kick ass the way she does. Re: Bruce, it's been 15 years since "Xena" and about 25 since "Evil Dead." He IS old.

Boom said...

well, it's the us open that's why. which also makes good tv, at least for me.

hahah, yeah i know but i just saw a rerun of army of darkness and remembered how i had a mini crush on him, of which i now have no trace of whatsoever.