2008-07-31 : Burn Notice

Hey, who wants to talk about Burn Notice season 1?

I like the show quite a bit. Its fluffiness is all misdirection. It's got some really interesting stuff happening, deftly downplayed.

I think that it has some things to teach us as rpg designers. Anybody else watch it?

1. On 2008-07-31, Rob Donoghue said:

Pretty much my favorite show on television at the moment.

Right now it's making me dig back through old game thought about inventory management of all things.  For most any other game, I just tend to assume that you have the stuff it would make sense to have, but for smart spy stuff (like burn notice) there is such a strong emphasis on doing clever or cool things with the resources you have that I feel like just handwaving it detracts from the cool.

The fights are also particularly satisfying to watch, since they are very dynamic, which is to say they go a beat or two, then something _changes_, which is really how I feel it should be.

And that just scratches the surface. I think you're absolutely right is has a lot to teach.


2. On 2008-07-31, Dave Younce said:

I'm a big fan. I don't usually dig voiceovers, but the little tradecraft narrations are lots of fun here.

I like that most of the spy gadgety stuff and technical elements of the show _aren't_ just hand-waving. It makes other shows in its genre look lazy by comparison.


3. On 2008-08-01, Renee Knipe said:

Sheesh, do we have to make an rpg out of everything?  ;)

Yeah, Burn Notice is fantastic.  And yeah, the spycraft is cool and the fights are cool, but I was just thinking during last Thursday's episode how really cool it is that every single episode features movement on something like four fronts.  I mean, there's the mission-of-the-week, plus Mike always gets a little closer to who burned him, plus he deals with some family discord, plus he deals with some Fiona discord, and every so often he even deals with some Sam discord.  And although it is Mike's story, the supporting characters aren't completely meatless either.  The pacing isn't always spot-on, but it's never boring...I'm not sure there's another show on TV that squeezes so much content into 45 minutes.

Which is all good, but it was the cute lead and the fact I'm a total geek for Bruce Campbell that brought me to it in the first place.


4. On 2008-08-01, Vincent said:

> ... every single episode features movement on something like four fronts.


Here's what I mean about "deftly downplayed." Michael's really, really good at some things, of course, but he's pretty damn bad at some others. Significantly, on two fronts - his clients and his burn notice thing - he does both kinds of things, while on the other fronts, he usually gets to do only the things he's bad at. So we see him fail all the time, sometimes with serious consequences. But the show's all like waving its hands and pointing to his successes, so the tone is slick, upbeat and super-competent.


5. On 2008-08-01, Renee Knipe said:


It occurred to me about three episodes into season one that the show has a recipe for boredom.  I mean, the guy never fails, right?  It took me a few minutes to sort it out...thank God I knew to look for the relationship map (see, I worked gaming in there, just to establish some of my old cred)!

And the "fronts" play off of each other in fun ways without rendering any of the rest insignificant.  The fact that Mike can outwit Russian assassins but can't talk his way out of trouble with his mom isn't there to underscore one storyline or the enhances both.


6. On 2008-08-04, Steven Jarvis said:

Ttension between Michael being good at the spy stuff and bad at the family/relationship stuff is, what drives him so hard to find out who burned him. Being burned traps him in Miami and makes him RELY on those human relationships (Mom, Fiona, Brother, even Sam to some extent) that make him the most nervous because that's where he's the least competent. But, of course, he's trapped there because of the spy stuff. Like Renee said above, it enhances both storylines, and the failures just take the storyline to more interesting places, like they should in an RPG, too.

And like Rob mentions above, the resource management aspect is done so well. I'd LOVE to see that translated to an RPG well, too, because that's one of my hitches in most spy/espionage RPGs: the resource management rules are always borked one way or the other.

And I LOVE Bruce Campbell's line in the opening credits: "You know spies... they're all bitchy little girls." :)


7. On 2008-08-26, Kip Manley said:

Something somebody else pointed out, faction-wise:

Sam used to work for the government.
Fiona used to work for terrorists.
Michael was a private contractor.

They're in Florida.

Sam = Navy.
Fiona = pirate.
Michael = privateer.


8. On 2008-08-26, Vincent said:

That's fun.

My thoughts about season 2 so far:

1. We need to see Fiona shoot, soon, or we're going to start to think that "trigger happy" is all hype.

2. They're way more willing this season than they were last season to hand the villain over to someone who will kill him. Take the gangster rapper episode: last season, they would have made it clear to Eddie just what his new circumstances were, then let him make a run for it. Time to disappear, Eddie, and good luck! This season, they hand him over to be murdered, smirking. I don't like it as well.


9. On 2008-09-09, Reithan said:

In a way, I sort of think the shows of a bit of violence and loss of humanity on the parts of some of the characters equates to the same thing you're talking about with Fiona needing to shoot.

You can only hear a spy talk about all the rough things he's done and all the hard choices he has to make to burn the bad guys to save the good guys before you're gonna need proof.

Otherwise it just turns into another superhero show, not a spy show.


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