Published July 24. 2012 5:00PM Updated July 25. 2012 2:21PM
At one point I would have classified USA's "Burn Notice" as a guilty pleasure. It doesn't wax sentimental like "Mad Men"; it's no high-brow literature in action like "Downton Abbey"; its jokes don't skewer like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert's.
But here's what it has those other greats do not: Michael, Fi, Sam, and the city of Miami.
Why do they rate, you ask?
Burned spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is the only TV character that could possibly beat Jack Bauer in hand-to-hand combat or a basic Spy Guy Contest. He also looks great in a suit.
Fiona Glennane (Gabrielle Anwar) as an ex-IRA soldier illustrates the art of professional multi-tasking: She looks fabulous whilst blowing up buildings/winning car chases/stocking ammo/telling off Michael and Sam. More important, she's NEVER, ever been a damsel in distress type and holds her own beautifully in every skirmish. She is now in my TV Role Model Hall of Fame alongside Gillian Anderson's Agent Dana Scully and Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw. (Sue me; she's a freelance writer who somehow lived in Manhattan, clad in couture gear, before she nabbed Mr. Big. We should all be so lucky.)
Bruce Campbell already has earned huge pop culture points for being young Ash in the "Evil Dead" series, but as "Burn Notice's" ex-Navy SEAL Sam Axe, he's the man who brings it all back down to earth. He's a hard-drinking, joke-cracking, Cadillac-loving Dude who is the greatest friend a burned spy could have.
As for Miami, if you have to ask, you'll never know. Just go there and you'll see. Other than the tropical paradise Miami offers, I've got two words: Cuban food.
As always, I'm late to the "Burn Notice" game and have nearly caught up via Netflix to the current season. (Hey Netflix: maybe stream season 5 like you did with the rest of the series and eliminate all those "Very Long Wait" notes in our disc queues.) I've already read some spoilers about the current season and I'm determined to tune in live ASAP.
Listen, "Burn Notice" will never be Shakespeare, but it's also got a lot more cred than other spy/cop shows (seriously, why in the hell do people watch "CSI"? It's a parody of itself. Kinda like this.) It may employ lots and lots of eye candy (see also: the denizens of Miami and the super trim Anwar and Donovan), but so what? Who doesn't need a little mental vacation to Miami every so often? And you've got to love all that spy-tech stuff.
So, in honor of my household's recent acquisition of the first disc of "Burn Notice" season 5 (did I mention it was after WAY too long a wait?), I give you: 10 things I've learned by watching "Burn Notice," with feedback from my husband, who responded within 10 seconds of my email asking him for said feedback. (He's a tool guy, what can I say?)
1. You can almost bulletproof a car with phone books.
2. It is always a good idea to cast Sharon Gless, known to some as She Who Was Cagney to Tyne Daly's Lacey. Gless is Westen's mother on the show and has possibly smoked more cigarettes than Don Draper.
3. No amount of skill or preparation is more useful than a few friends. With skills.
4. Never underestimate what can be accomplished a disposable camera, a broken cellphone, and a pair of sunglasses. Suck it MacGyver!
5. Couture heels are appropriate footwear for a stakeout only if you're Fiona.
6. Best fake name ever: Chuck Finley
7. Never take professional (or fashion) advice from a guy like Nate Westen.
8. Actress Callie Thorne is even more awesome as Natalie, a super-skilled thief who appears in season 3 and 4.
9. There's always time for a beer or mojito.
10. Stock up on yogurt. Apparently, it's the breakfast of champions.
Season 6 of "Burn Notice" is underway on USA. It's on at 9 p.m on Thursdays.