'Burn Notice' review: Burt Reynolds livens up a serious episode

Burt Reynolds’ guest star turn on Burn Notice this week was a lot of fun. Playing retired Cold War-era spy Paul Anderson, first seen tending a Florida bar, Reynolds showed that he still knows how to make a long, sarcastic stare work better than three punchlines, and he and Jeffrey Donovan developed a fine comic rhythm.

It’s a good thing Reynolds was around to spark the action — a team of Russian killers was after him, and so he became Michael’s client-of-the-week — because the rest of this Burn Notice showed signs of strain.

The whole Jesse-burn-notice plot is moving at a slow pace; as a result, Coby Bell is increasingly forced to handle scenes in which he stands around griping to Michael, Fiona, and Sam while they stare at their shoes guiltily. What looked, at the start of the season, like a clever idea (Michael burning Jesse, the burnee thus becoming the burner), has fizzled a little. It’s led to grave, awkward moments such as the one that concluded this hour, when Fiona slapped Michael and said, “I can’t stand what you’re turning into.” As Michael might say in one of his patented voice-overs, when you’re a spy, you don’t like to hear that one of your allies doesn’t like you very much anymore.

Which is not to say the episode was a downer. Richard Kind put in a nice appearance as one of Jesse’s old bosses, and John Doman from The Wire was excellently gruff and mean as a cynical Congressman.

And then there was Reynolds. Now in his 70s, he wasn’t shy about joking about his age. “You call me ‘old-timer’ again,” he rasped, “you’re gonna be wearing your ass around your head, like a hat.”

It was that little pause he took after “head,” before “like a hat” — that’s what made Reynolds’ delivery both funny and stinging.

I’d like to see Reynolds return to Burn Notice some time; how about you?

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  • Jill

    I liked Burt! He was funny and entertaining.

    I am getting tired of Fiona’s “I want you/I hate you” attitude towards Michael. She gets mad easily.

    • Textumbleweed

      Jill- totally agree! This whole thing with Fiona. We’ve had it every season. It is very t-i-r-e-d and in a way dragging out a “will they or won’t they” scenario (yes, I know they have already).
      I was happy to see Maddie back- she was missed last week!!!

  • Brad

    Ken, I called this last week. They should have used the hit girl to give Jesse the information Fiona destroyed. Why have her destroy it, then strike Michael in the face twice. He feels guilty enough. Having Jesse find out Michael burned him turns him into an instant villian and has him going after Michael and the others while Michael deals with his other problems. Now, it seems they could bring Paul back in to help, but at least it would give Coby something else to work with.

  • Bethie

    I like the addition of Jessie/Coby Bell. I really think after last season BN needed something new, and I think the Jessie character works well with the Big Three so there’s no Cousin Oliver Syndrome working. That said, I wish they could have found a better way to integrate him into the story. I hate having Michael be the one who burned him because it will simply not end well, and I don’t want Jessie to go away or become bitter toward Michael and his crew.

  • Lynn

    I like Jessie too and hope that the writers can come up with a way , eventually, that is really wasn’t Michael’s fault that Jessie got burned….like a set up of some kind. I hope Jessie stays around. Always liked Coby Bell on Third Watch. Glad to see Burt is still active. As always , he “done good”.

  • DLJ

    Burt Reynolds is a LEGEND and one of the all-time COOL actors. I’ll give you three quick examples: Burt made having a mustache COOL. Burt made owning a Trans-Am COOL. And Burt made playing football in prison COOL. Guess who Hollywood’s #1 box office star was from 1977 to 1981. You guessed it.

    • shaylily

      I love burt reynolds in whatever he is in. I have always thought he should have his own talk show. He’s witty, still goodlooking, sense of humor is awsesome. He would be a perfect taLk show host. I’m his biggest fan. AlwaYs have been.

  • Billl

    Maybe they could bring back Paul Anderson as a romantic interest for Madeline Weston and make Burt a continuing character?

    • Snsetblaze

      I was thinking the same thing when I saw the two of them in a scene together.

    • tickles

      I was thinking the exact same thing!
      Maddie is sooo cute. Do we know anything about Michael’s father?

  • erock

    Burt was good, definately an asset to the show! Unfortunately I’m so tired of the Jessie story line. They never needed to go that route and it has really dragged down the magic of the threesome. The sooner they lose this character the better!

  • jrs

    Did we watch the same show? I love Burn Notice; have since day one. But, Burt Reynolds was awful…so stiff. Face barely moving. Like watching a corpse. That’s my biggest beef with this show…their guest actors usually are pretty poor actors.

    • Ellen in NYC

      Agree, Burt looked old, tired and too thin. I don’t know how Ken can credit Burt with livening up the show. I like the show with or without Burt.

    • daz

      Where have you been??? Burt Reynolds is one of the most talented actors of all time. It is obvious, that you have no knowledge of what a professional actor is. Truly, a most disrespectful comment about Reynolds looking like a corpse. How rude can you be. The man has been through major heart surgery lately, and is up and working. Give some credit, where credit is due.

    • rustneversleeps

      Burt’s face is frozen like he had an overdose of Botox, except for his left eyebrow. The eyebrow had a mind of its own. My wife and I couldn’t focus on the plot. We just kept watching the wild eyebrow.

  • Lyn

    I agree w/ JRS that Burt looked scary and cadaverous. Glad to see a spy plot, though, rather than Michael & co. doing some Boy Scout-ish good deed. Really like the character of Jesse, but they seem to be building to a big climactic fight between him and Michael.

  • aby

    I guess I am the only one who can’t stand Jesse. He just doesn’t fit in well with the team. I don’t like his attitude and apparently he wasn’t a very good spy to begin with getting stuck on desk duty. Burn Notice is starting to age, and it isn’t pretty. I used to love this show, but it seems to be rapidly running out of steam.

  • colleen

    No you’re not the only one who didn’t like Jesse; I didn’t initially and I still think the 3-person unit was tighter. I get tired of the constant second-guessing of Michael (not that he can’t ever be wrong but come on, he’s a veteran compared to Jesse). And I said the same thing; he appeared to be pretty stupid in the early episodes so it was no wonder he was no longer a field operative and sitting behind a desk! Still, I thought he worked in well last week and he had the line of the season with “Even a day at the beach isn’t a day at the beach with you people.” But I want him to find out about his burn (like he wouldn’t have done the same thing to someone else had the need arose) and get it over with. Move the story line along. Michael needs to make a commitment to the life he is leading and tighten up his merry band.
    I still love the show and wouldn’t miss it but they have to pick up the pace and move forward.
    And yes, bring back Burt Reynolds! Wonderful! Loved the whole episode! Remember, he is only a few months out of quintuple bypass surgery; he’ll be back in better form. And he and Maddie – what fun!!

  • KT

    Actually thought this was one of the better shows of this season so far. Have been a BN fan from the beginning and I still like the idea of the original threesome–Michael, Fi and Sam. Chemistry is great between those three and I feel like they are forcing Jesse’s character to try and fit in. Need more of the Michael and Fi relationship that made the first 3 seasons so great–miss that. More romance please!!! And Sam is ALWAYS great.

    • Adi

      Selleck did the same thing (as a tribute to Burt’s cpnearapae). Both have done roles on an off that required to shave mustaches so every time they needed to shave they would go on a talk show to shave (might as well get some comedy out of it). This was the very first time though (for the filming of STARTING OVER and was planned in advance) and the other times never were quite as funny because you knew the joke. I can’t think of any other actors known for their mustaches today except Sam Elliot.

  • wtfnyc

    Agree 100% on the pause before “like a hat.” That is absolutely why that line, and Burt R himself, is still hilarious. REEEEALLY hard to look at, but hilarious. I definitely felt a vibe between him and Maddie (played by the gorgeous Sharon Gless, who, on the other hand, just keeps getting PRETTIER with her more natural aging) — they should absolutely explore that.

  • dvid

    i dont really care about jesse, since he wont be around for more then this season, at the midseason break, he’ll probably find out about his burn notice and come after mike and the team. then we’ll all find out that the one who ordered mike to do this is a actually a bad guy. or jesse will die at the hands of simon(bomber who was released last season) and he will forgive mike.
    and are mike and fi even together anymore?

  • LettersAthruZ

    Ya know…..I used to really enjoy “The Simpsons”…..

    ….and there was one episode where Krusty the Klown was frustrated with low ratings! The people at the studio conference table did a half-assed focus group and decided that the “Itchy and Scratchy” segment needed something new……

    …and, thusly, they introduced the new charactor of Poochy, voiced by Homer.

    Jesse is the Poochy of Burn Notice!

    Send him back to his home planet…..NOW!!

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