“You can’t kill me, I’m having a dinner party!”

The Perfect Host

What do you get when you take one part Niles Crane from the long-running series Frasier and combine it with two parts alternate history of Daphne marrying Donny and a complete mental breakdown? The Perfect Host, that’s what.

Just to clear things up before we delve into the meat of the movie, no, this isn’t a movie about a crazy Niles. But it does star David Hyde Pierce in a role that does seem to draw from Niles’ personality – and as you’ll see, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The movie starts off with a fairly low-key getaway sequence as John Taylor (Clayne Crawford), a career criminal, executes a surprisingly well thought out series of steps to avoid drawing the cops down on him in a flurry of military hardware. An unplanned injury, however, leads to some big problems that leave John looking to lay low until the heat dies down.

A cheeky drop.Enter Warwick Wilson (Pierce), a well-to-do man in the midst of preparing a posh dinner party for his friends. John uses Warwick’s mail to socially engineer himself right through the front door and into his own personal hell.

The Perfect Host starts off a bit slow as it follows John trying to stay one step ahead of the police and smooth-talk Warwick before picking up steam when his impatience with his chatty host leads to his true identity coming out.

Maybe it’s my own personal bias – I love Frasier and Niles is my favorite character – but Pierce steals the scene whether he’s interacting with his party guests or contributing to what I’d imagine is a growing wish on John’s part that he’d just turned himself in. As Warwick he plays the nice guy so well you find yourself rooting for him to win out over the far more crass and abrasive John, ably played by Crawford as a man desperately grasping at control of a situation he lost control of the minute he rang Warwick’s doorbell.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usWhat other cast there is consists mostly of Warwick’s party guests (though none of them are really focused on enough to get a sense of who they are – for good reason) and two cops hot on John’s trail (one of whom is played by Joseph Will, who once upon a time had a role as Niles’ cousin in the fifth season Frasier episode “Beware of Greeks”).

It’s hard to talk about the movie without spilling details that would ultimately ruin the experience of watching it for the first time. Suffice it to say, it’s certainly funny and well worth the time you’ll spend watching it, especially if you happen to be a David Hyde Pierce fan with a perverse desire to see a Niles that has gone completely off his rocker. I will say the character of Warwick seemed a little wooden at first and the pacing seems a little off, but once the movie gets moving you’ll find yourself more than just a little amused as you watch him cheerfully abuse John throughout his posh dinner party.

Verdict: B+. The wooden start of Warwick really put a damper in my initial enthusiasm for the movie, but Pierce’s pitch-perfect delivery once we got to see who Warwick really is won me right back.

Rated R for language, some violent content and brief sexual material.

A Soundtrack So Good It’s Horrible

It’s up on iTunes. Finally you can purchase the soundtrack for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. For those who’ve never heard of Dr. Horrible before, see Visual Crack’s review of the blog and where you can watch it. As for the rest of us, back to the soundtrack. Included with your iTunes purchase is:

1. Horrible Theme
2. My Freeze Ray
3. Bad Horse Chorus
4. Caring Hands
5. A Man’s Gotta Do
6. My Eyes
7. Bad Horse Chorus (Reprise)
8. Penny’s Song
9. Brand New Day
10. So They Say
11. Everyone’s a Hero
12. Slipping
13. Everything You Ever
14. Horrible Credits

So fourteen songs for $10. It is priced a bit higher than I would like, but something else we have to consider is where our money is going for this purchase. It isn’t going back to some big studio exec or music exec, it’s going back to Joss and the crew. If we’ve appreciate this entertainment, and I know I have, then giving him some money to produce more isn’t such a bad thing.

So as tempted as I know many of you will be to pirate download, consider at least for a little bit that it is Joss and the crew you are directly hurting. (In other words, just quit being stingy and spend the $10 already).

No official word on a DVD release yet, but rumors are sometime in December (see http://doctorhorrible.net).

In another interesting note, I did a search for Dr. Horrible on Amazon, just out of curiosity. I came up with some very interesting results. Ok, well, mostly goggles. They aren’t Dr. Horrible official, and if someone has found some better ones, do post, but they’re fairly close. There’s also some other options available for those thinking of the fast approaching Halloween holiday. I’m hoping to see loads of Dr. Horrible Halloween costumes posted on the web this year. 🙂

Is There a Trick to Stringing Cranberry Sauce?

When I was a kid and watching a lot of Nickelodeon, Nick-at-Nite originally really miffed me. I didn’t want to watch tired old black and white shows or shows where everybody wore way too much polyester for anybody’s good; I wanted to watch more Rocko’s Modern Life, Ren & Stimpy, and You Can’t Do That on Television. I’m not sure when it happened, but I eventually calmed down enough to sit through reruns of classic I Love Lucy, I Dream of Jeannie, and Bewitched episodes. Soon I was also watching The Dick van Dyke Show and a host of other classic 60’s and 70’s sitcoms.

Somewhere in there Nick-at-Nite started airing a 70’s sitcom called The Bob Newhart Show. I’d always been a bit precocious and I’m sure my parents will tell you that my sense of humor almost always leaned toward the dry and sarcastic side, but I don’t know what made me actually sit down and watch it. Whatever the reason, when I did I was hooked.

Bob Newhart is, without question, my favorite comedian ever. I enjoy a good angry comedian (Lewis Black is particularly hilarious) and energetic comedians are usually pretty fun (Robin Williams killed me with his 2002 live stand up album) but I’ll almost always take dry wit and sarcasm when given a choice. There’s just something about deadpan delivery that sends me into hysterics. Bob Newhart can only be described as the god of deadpan delivery.

Bob Hartley (Bob Newhart) is a Chicago-area psychologist with a private practice, a wife (Emily), and a bachelor for a best friend (Jerry). He’s also got goofy patients (Mr. Carlin being the most notable; I’ll talk about him later), a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with his parents, and a neighbor that spends more time in their apartment than his own (Howard). Unlike most other sitcoms featuring a married couple, there were no children in the picture, though Bob and Emily did talk about the family they would eventually have.

If I had to pick the perfect TV husband-wife combo, it would be the Hartleys. Bob Newhart and Suzanne Pleshette had a genuine affection and respect for each other that translated incredibly well to the screen. I don’t care how good an actor is, if the chemistry isn’t there, the camera picks up on it. In this case, Newhart and Pleshette were a fantastic team and it showed. The relationship between Bob and Emily is interesting and it feels real to those watching, even 30+ years later.

One particular aspect of their relationship is especially refreshing to see: Bob is not a moron and Emily is not his savior. He doesn’t play clueless rube to Emily’s witty housewife/career woman. The norm nowadays is a Homer Simpson-type that looks and acts like a neanderthal but somehow has a sexy, independent, intelligent wife who has to bail him out of whatever stupid situation he’s gotten himself into. Don’t get me wrong, I love Homer Simpson – he’s my favorite Simpsons character – but he’s not meant to be a template for every male character on TV. I’ve had my share of thoughts regarding the stupidity of the male half of humanity (sorry guys), but I know they’re really not all un-evolved, posturing, alpha-male-mentality apes. Bob is an intelligent, responsible guy who has his moments, but those moments don’t last for 22 minutes broken up only by the occasional commercial break.

Oddly enough, if you do happen to run across an intelligent male character in any of the more recent sitcoms you will be watching a boring, one-dimensional character. The egghead types inevitably reject every typically male interest or pursuit. They don’t drink beer, they drink wine. They don’t watch football, they watch the History Channel, if they watch TV at all. They eschew action movies, instead preferring slower-paced intellectual films. Bob Hartley is an intelligent guy, but he’s three-dimensional. He drinks beer, watches football, and goes to basketball games. In other words, he’s a guy.

Bob’s wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), on the other hand, is definitely a woman. She takes her duties in the home seriously, taking care of Bob, keeping the apartment clean, and cooking but she also has a life outside the home. She’s a substitute teacher who eventually goes back to school in order to become a teacher full time. And she also went after what she wanted from Bob, which in itself was another area of the show that was brilliant.

The Bob Newhart Show was one of the first to acknowledge that married couples do more than fight, eat, and talk. The brilliant part: it did so without blatantly throwing sex in the viewers’ faces. It was innuendo, but it was never lewd. Parents could let their kids watch the show and not cringe at what was said; most of it would have gone right over the kids’ heads and by the time they were old enough to understand they’d have already stopped asking embarrassing questions in public anyway.

It really was a product of it’s time. Women’s lib was in full swing and social mores were in flux. This was visible through Carol’s dilemma in the first season regarding whether or not she should move in with her boyfriend. Howard and Jerry were both bachelors with revolving doors on their apartments as far as women were concerned. Still, it wasn’t shoved in your face like in so many of the current shows. Again, there’s nothing in this show that demands explaining to children (aside from why psychologist is spelled so funny 😉 ).

Speaking of Jerry and Howard, both are bachelors popular with the ladies, but the similarity ends there. Jerry Robinson (Peter Bonerz) is an orthodontist with an office in the same building as Bob. He is constantly visiting Bob in his office or near Carol’s desk just outside it. Over the course of the show we learn he was adopted and that he had a younger brother who was also adopted. He loves sports and is often either at Bob’s house to watch football or on his way to a game – if he wasn’t on a date, of course. As far as women are concerned, he always seems to have a really hard time figuring out his place in the world. He’s a serial dater clearly unhappy with being a serial dater, but whenever he hits upon that realization he dismisses it off-hand, often remarking that that couldn’t be the problem and wondering why anybody would give up the bachelor life.

Howard Borden (Bill Daily) is a divorced airline navigator with a son that periodically visits him. Howard is a mystery: he is not what you could call intelligent, in fact he is quite simple-minded, but he still manages to somehow get through life – with plenty of lady-friends. And in stark contrast to the male characters today, his bumbling idiocy is actually endearing, not annoying. You really can’t help but laugh when he just gets in from navigating a flight out of Tokyo or Paris and then gets lost in the streets of Chicago. His mannerisms alone are bizarre and absolutely hilarious.

More friend than co-worker, secretary Carol Kester (Marcia Wallace) is often to be seen in Bob’s office asking for advice on what she should do to solve a myriad of problems. Everything from the office coffeemaker to her love life is in bounds as far as she’s concerned, no matter how much Bob doesn’t want anything to do with it. If she doesn’t get the answer she wants from Bob, she’ll make a beeline to Emily, hoping to get a different answer. (This occasionally results in problems for Bob, as when Carol was unhappy with her job and Emily unwittingly agreed that maybe Carol should quit.)

Bob’s patients are the weirdest, most neurotic, funniest bunch of people on the show. Particularly Elliot Carlin (Jack Riley). Mr. Carlin belongs to every single one of Bob’s groups, including the unemployed group and the over 60 group. He’s neither unemployed nor over 60. The reason he’s in those groups: he has a hard time relating to people of all ages and employment states. Mr. Carlin is a successful businessman with a knack for finding all the worst in life. He has a hairpiece (it was actually Jack Riley’s real hair, which made the whole thing funnier than it already was), he wears lifts because he feels short, and he’s constantly criticizing everybody around him, often telling them their actions are making him feel like they aren’t respecting him, even if what they’re doing has nothing to do with him. I’d have to say, of all the TV characters I’ve loved, he’s probably my favorite. It might have something to do with the fact that he can say things in perfect deadpan that any other person would most likely laugh or cry while expressing. As the TV Land website says:

Elliot Carlin is probably Bob’s most notable patient. He is a financially successful, morally bankrupt bundle of neuroses. He appears to suffer from both low self-esteem and narcissism simultaneously—no small feat for a man in a toupee and elevator shoes.

Aside from Mr. Carlin, Bob’s patients include Mr. Gianelli, a man who has a host of problems and is constantly putting down Mr. Peterson, a small high-voiced man who was, unbelievably, once a Marine. Michelle Nardo is a woman in her 20’s with severe father issues (mostly the fact that he won’t listen to her and let her spread her wings). And Mrs. Bakerman spends most of her time in group knitting and saying “Isn’t that nice” whenever anybody else talks about their problems.

I’m sure by now you can tell I love pretty much everything about this show, but one of my very favorite things about it is the theme song, “Home to Emily” by Lorenzo and Henrietta Music. Normally I skip past the opening themes of shows but with The Bob Newhart Show I don’t mind sitting through it. It’s upbeat and I love the drums. You’re more than welcome to take a listen below.

Verdict: A. Even though I’m in my late 20’s and had to learn about The Bob Newhart Show through Nick-at-Nite, it is one of my top 10 TV series of all time. The writing was great and watching Bob do his signature telephone conversations sometimes has me close to tears from laughing so hard. Bill Daily is an expert at playing the somewhat clueless friend; I realized that while watching I Dream of Jeannie and this show just solidified that realization. My one major hope is that 20th Century Fox finally gets around to releasing the final two seasons on DVD so that I can enjoy the whole series together.

I’m officially giving The Bob Newhart Show the “Ultimate Fix” award.

On a more morose note, I’d like to express my sadness at Suzanne Pleshette’s death in January this year. While I’ve never seen her in anything but The Bob Newhart Show I truly enjoyed her wit and sense of humor. She definitely deserved all the accolades she got as Emily Hartley and with at least the first four seasons of the show on DVD I’m deeply grateful that I get to see her shine even though she has passed on.

The Man. The Legend. The King… and a Mummy?!?

If you read my review/first look of Burn Notice you would know that I’m kind of obsessed with Bruce Campbell. Actually, I really don’t know how you’re not obsessed with him. I mean, he’s Bruce Campbell: B-movie god and just all around cool guy. Seriously, how can you not be obsessed with a man who wrote a book called Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way?

Anyway, we’ll move past the fact that if you aren’t a Bruce fan you obviously don’t take your entertainment seriously and go directly into my take on Bubba Ho-Tep.

Elvis (Bruce) is far from dead; he’s been living in an old folks home somewhere in Texas under the name Sebastian Haff for years. Of course, nobody believes him – except the black guy down the hall who insists he’s really JFK and he was dyed black so nobody would know who he was. Not exactly what you would call a ringing endorsement. Is it any wonder the elderly rock ‘n roll icon spends almost all his time lying in bed contemplating the possibly cancerous growth on the family jewels?

Then several tragedies strike. What’s an aging rock ‘n roll star with a growth on his nether-regions to do when a soul-sucking mummy shows up and starts taking out the elderly at the Shady Rest Nursing Home? Don his rhinestone-studded white suit complete with cape, throw on his huge sunglasses, and pull out his walker, that’s what.

Luckily, he’s not alone. Jack (Ossie Davis), the black man who believes himself to be JFK, also joins the fight, which is a truly hilarious picture when it also involves a motorized wheelchair. Together they’re taking it upon themselves to rid Shady Rest of the cowboy hat-wearing Egyptian mummy Elvis dubs “Bubba Ho-Tep”.

Is the story cheesy and over the top? Yes. Is the idea of an ancient walker wielding Elvis and a possibly black-dyed motorized wheelchair riding JFK teaming up an exercise in rampant silliness? Yes. But is it funny? Undoubtedly, yes.

Bruce is in fine form as the elderly Elvis. It’s not just how he talks, it’s also how he handles his walker; you can clearly see he hates the thing but he’s stuck with it. Then there’s the way he insists he’s Elvis when nobody else will believe him. Except for Jack, of course, but as mentioned above he thinks he’s JFK and that he’s been dyed black to keep anybody from knowing who he really is. His room is a hilarious museum of pictures of people having to do with the JFK assassination and even a model of the street in Dallas where he was shot. I think the thing I love the most about Jack is how indignant Ossie Davis plays him. He’s clearly fed up with continually telling people he’s really JFK and dealing with their placating yet totally disbelieving tones.

The mummy himself is a slow-moving creature that survives by eating the souls of others from one of the body’s more, shall we say, uncomfortable orifices. For some odd reason it also runs around dressed like a cowboy, which almost forces you to ponder all the possibilities of an ancient Egyptian ruler (like King Tut) in a cowboy hat, boots, and pants that are entirely too tight held up with a belt buckle the size of Texas enjoying a day at the rodeo. Because the mummy moves so slowly old people are his only option for what I guess you could call survival and at Shady Rest it’s clear he’s hit the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Probably one of the greatest things about Bubba Ho-Tep is that even the little things give you a laugh, but it’s not forced. Outlandish maybe, but no more so than a 2,000 year old Egyptian mummy dressed like Garth Brooks terrorizing a random Texas nursing home that just happens to house Elvis and a black man who thinks he’s JFK. My favorite little moments have to do with the guys tasked with picking up the bodies of the nursing home’s most recently departed. Having worked in medicine myself and seeing some horrible things I’ve had to develop a morbid sense of humor and I’d imagine working with dead people also forces you to develop a similarly morbid sense of humor, some of which is, I’m sure, completely unintended.

Verdict: A-. While not as strong as the movies in The Evil Dead series Bubba Ho-Tep is definitely worth seeing if you are a Bruce Campbell fan and let’s face it, everybody is, some are just in the closet about it. Bruce Campbell was able to take material that would have ended up as MST3K fodder for sure and turned it into a hilarious romp through absurdity. You know you want to see this film.

Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violent images.

The Brains and Veins are What this Film Contains! We Think She’s Got It!

The idea behind MST3K is quite possibly the most perfect idea ever. Has there ever been another show that could have continued to run indefinitely and still been as funny as it ever was? I don’t think so.

The cancellation of MST3K was a tremendous blow for me. It was like losing a good friend and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m almost positive there are aspects of my sense of humor that have been heavily influenced by the dry wit of Tom Servo and the sarcasm of Mike Nelson. The whole show was living proof that it is possible to write smart jokes and people will get them. That’s a rarity when it comes to television (and if you have any doubt about that please see The TV Set as soon as possible).

Cinematic Titanic has brought all that back. But instead of just Joel/Mike and the ‘bots, you get Joel Hodgson, Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein, Trace Beaulieu, and Mary Jo Pehl all riffing a movie at the same time. And while I miss the ‘bots, Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis Weinstein (the voices of Crow and Tom Servo) are able to alleviate that emptiness by saying things exactly like Crow or Servo would have every once in a while.

Now, let’s talk about The Oozing Skulll, the original name of which is Brain of Blood (title change was due to a concern by one of the film’s producers that people would be confused as to which was the riffed version and which was the original). The movie is spectacularly bad, with cheesy acting galore. To make the whole thing even more ridiculous, a postcard of what looks like the Taj Mahal (but really isn’t) is used as the outside shot of a fictional country’s royal palace:

Note to aspiring filmmakers: Don’t use a wonder of the world – or even a building that looks like one of the wonders – as anything but what it really is. And for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t use postcards as external shots. Wait, no, do do that stuff; that just means more riffing goodness in the future for me and all the other MSTies out there.

The movie itself is about a dying man and his people’s wish that he live on. Apparently he was like a living god to them. The solution to this problem is, in standard B-movie fashion, to do the completely nonsensical thing and transplant his brain into another body. Of course, that can only be accomplished in the USA in a hidden laboratory staffed with a guy who may have appeared in the movie Willow, a mad doctor, and a Forrest Gump-type sans the charisma and sporting severe acid burns to his face and head. While there are other medical types working there, they all come off as mere window dressing, serving no real purpose.

Gore, the hideously disfigured simpleton, manages to screw up the procuring of a new body for Amir, the dying – and later dead – man. This of course throws the whole process into a tailspin and the haplessly simple-minded Gore ends up biting the bullet, albeit unknowingly, and giving up his body for what I guess is the greater good. Then Amir wakes up, realizes what has happened, and refuses to calm down and listen to the doctor, who is trying to explain that if they hadn’t used what they had he’d be dead. He of course completely disregards the fact that the doctor can just move his brain into a new body once they get one, which wouldn’t take long, and goes on a murderous rampage. Basically, this movie was just begging to be riffed.

We aren’t disappointed. Right out of the gate the jokes are flying. Joel is as charming as ever and, as mentioned before, Trace and J. Elvis are able to drag out the ‘bot nostalgia a few times while still managing to be mostly funny during rest of the time. I was pleasantly surprised at Frank Conniff’s ability to riff because he’s always been TV’s Frank, one of the “mads”, to me. But the man is funny. He brings a lot of the Frank character we know and love to the riffing table and it’s pure genius. Which leaves us with a fairly quiet Mary Jo Pehl, and she is as delightful as ever (just not as evil as Pearl). Not all the jokes work and occasionally you get the sense that this is still a project in an early phase, but you can tell they’re quickly getting into the groove. Every show has growing pains, this is no exception.

Now, before I go any further can I just say that I have a girl crush on Mary Jo Pehl? You might remember her for her many roles on MST3K, including her turns as Pearl Forrester and one of my personal favorites, Jan in the Pan (pictured at right). She was a writer for the show from 1992-1999, during which time she also provided the voice for Magic Voice. But I don’t think I truly appreciated her genius until watching her riff The Oozing Skull. Without a doubt she’s my favorite member of the Cinematic Titanic team (forgive me, Joel) despite being a bit on the quiet side this time out. She’s got impeccable comedic timing and I can’t help but laugh at her open blog post to Obama giving him all the good reasons she should be the person he picks as his running mate. Not part of the movie, but comic gold, I tell you.

By the time the end of the movie rolled around I was completely sold on Cinematic Titanic. There are no host segments and everything takes place completely in the shadowrama format, but it’s like having a retooled, very new – but still good – MST3K back. And it’s completely topped off by Stephen Hawking rolling through the theater after everybody else has left. I just about busted a gut.

Verdict: B+. Some of the best writers to ever grace television are back doing what they do best: making fun of really bad movies. In addition, more people are riffing, which could have ruined it (more is not always better) but they’ve managed to bring it together and play off each other. Given more time they’ll have it honed to the point where you have to wonder if they couldn’t have filled those seats in the original MST3K theater and come away with the same hilarious results.

In order to keep these guys up and running, head on over to the Cinematic Titanic page and either download or order The Oozing Skull for the low, low price of $14.99. You will not be disappointed, I promise you.

Push the Button, Frank!

So, if you are a rabid – or even not-so-rabid – MST3K fan and desperately want to see Joel in action again, today is the day that Doomsday Machine from Cinematic Titanic is available for your viewing pleasure. It is the second Cinematic Titanic release (the first being The Oozing Skull). I haven’t seen Doomsday Machine yet but if it’s anywhere near as good as The Oozing Skull it will be so worth the $14.99 (not that I’m trying to spoil the eventual review of The Oozing Skull).

In other MST3K related news, Joel managed to give me warm tingly feelings when he mentioned the MST3K 20th Anniversary Edition Box Set that’s coming out in October in his most recent post. My MST3K addiction is going to be getting a huge fix this year. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

When You’ve Been Burned, Call on the Man with the Killer Chin

Everybody knows spies are interesting. How else would you explain the thousand – and counting – 007 movies, Mission: Impossible, and the Bourne trilogy? We are obsessed with spies, the things they do, and how they live. What we’ve never really seen before is what happens when a spy is cut loose, or given what is known as a “burn notice”.

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is a spy with a major problem: Somebody has put a burn notice out on him and in doing so has effectively wiped him out. His accounts are frozen, if he leaves Miami he’s dead, and the people he used to work with and for refuse to talk to him. He has essentially become persona non grata and he wants to know who arranged it and why.

As interesting as the premise is, I started watching this show for one reason: Bruce Campbell [edited to add link]. The B-movie king himself. At this point I feel it prudent to ask who is really going to admit that they don’t like Bruce Campbell because, really, the man is a legend. If you have not seen any of the Evil Dead movies- even if it was just a late-night showing of Army of Darkness on TNT – I seriously have to question your dedication to entertainment. We’re talking Bruce Campbell here. But enough about my unhealthy obsession with the greatness that is “The Chin” and your craziness for not having that same unhealthy obsession.

It turns out there are plenty of reasons to watch this show that don’t involve Bruce. For one, there’s Jeffrey Donovan, a man I’ve never seen before but who I’m really starting to like just because of this role. Michael Westen has become a fixer, but he’s not a humorless musclebound meat-head with an overwhelming desire to see if he’s got the bigger gun. He plays it smart, often building crazy contraptions out of different electronics (usually involving cell phones). I never thought I’d say this – and I realize it may just be blasphemy to even think it – but this guy could probably give MacGuyver a run for his money. What he works with is higher-tech than MacGuyver. Still, when a man can take pieces of a cell phone and merge them with the motion sensor from an outdoor floodlight and create a remote alarm you just have to be impressed. That’s not just tech-savvy, that’s artistry in motion.

Aside from being the MacGuyver of our time, he’s also got “the smile”. I can’t really describe it to you, you’ll just have to watch. And trust me, if you do, you’ll know it when you see it. It’s charming and, given the context it’s given in, completely disarming for the viewer. You get the sense that he’s seen these types of situations so many times all he can do is smile. And, to shamelessly steal a line from Rachel Lucas, if you are a woman you just might spontaneously ovulate when you see it.

His ex-girlfriend (who is really his girlfriend sans the ex) is former IRA operative Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar). She’s skinny, pretty, and easy to mistake for a girl that needs protection, though nothing could be further from the truth on that last one. She’s feisty, well-trained, and considers violence to be foreplay. She’s no wilting flower. I’d hazard a guess at saying she’s every intelligence agency’s worst nightmare: she’s pretty and knows how to use it either disarm or get information out of just about any man. I am in awe of her awesomeness.

Then there’s “The Chin” himself as Sam Axe, former intelligence operative and Navy SEAL. He seems to have only one goal in life: to live off of whatever wealthy woman he happens to be dating at the moment. He’s one of exactly two people who once worked with Michael who is willing to actually still talk to him without guns or pointy things pointed in his direction. But part of that has to do with the fact that the FBI is squeezing him for information. This of course works out for Michael because he now has his own double-agent sending the FBI chasing after their tails.

This all really points to one thing: this show is awesome. It combines everything you could ever want in a series, whether you are a man or a woman: spies, double agents, FBI agents, Bruce Campbell, Gabrielle Anwar, Jeffrey Donovan’s smile, and a higher-tech MacGuyver-like quality that has me bouncing off the walls waiting for July 10th. Consider:

  • The Dark Knight
    Release date: July 18

  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe
    Release date: July 25

  • Burn Notice
    Season premiere date: July 10

  • Psych
    Season premiere date: July 18

Plus there will still be new episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and In Plain Sight airing. July just may be the most perfect month in entertainment this year. Now if only they were releasing a video game that I really want. Bah, who cares. A new X-Files movie and a new Batman movie in the same month? I’m positively wetting myself in anticipation. Then you add on these very awesome shows (all on the USA Network, which has become my most-watched network, BTW) and I could jump off my apartment building roof and my joy would cushion the fall.

Now, the first season of Burn Notice is on DVD and I command you to rent, buy, borrow, whatever you have to do to watch it because it’s awesome and “The Chin” is calling you.