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Bruce Campbell Talks Burn Notice and Sam Axe

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On June 4, USA's Burn Notice will begin its third season. The premiere episode is a straight continuation of the second season finale, picking up with burned spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) swimming the Atlantic after getting dropped out of a helicopter.

It's a pretty great start to what, early on, seems like a pretty great season. The first three episodes feature Michael getting back to business and meeting up with old enemies now that he's no longer off the grid. Even the cops, in the form of Moon Bloodgood (Journeyman), are after him.

As for Michael's pals Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), they're back too. Fiona finds herself concerned for Michael now that their on-again, off-again romance is on again. Her distress that Michael may end up leaving Miami to become a spy once more has thrown a wrench into their temporary happiness. For his part, Sam, the lady killer and ex-Navy SEAL is living with Michael's mom, Madeleine (Sharon Gless), and predictably has himself a new lady with a nice car that she has let him borrow.

On a recent conference call, in explaining how Sam manages to have such success with women, Bruce Campbell tells us "…It's his special skill with the ladies. So it doesn’t matter that he has no job or car or place to live. Sam can still get the ladies because, obviously, he's doing something with or to the ladies that is very successful, which we can’t discuss here."

There is, Campbell says, absolutely no chance though that Sam will mess up his rich woman mojo by mixing it up with Michael's mom. "… Sam and Madeline will never hook up, because it's Mike’s mother; it's too creepy. It would be something where I think Sam would feel uncomfortable with that, and as it is, Sam already behaves a little differently when Maddy’s around because it is Mike’s mother. Like, Sam will never really yell at Maddy… they’ll bicker sometimes, but he respects her as Mike’s mother."

In general, Campbell seems quite happy with the show and what it has to offer, stating specifically "what I like about Burn Notice is that none of us are the young, pretty face. Donovan has been around for 20 years, I’ve been doing this for 30, and then Sharon Gless has been doing it for 40, and I think Gabrielle has been doing this since she was a kid, so she's probably 30 years at this. So, I like the fact that… they’ve [USA Network] really taken it upon themselves to do character-based shows, not something that's based on your age or your beauty. So I'm really glad to be part of a mature ensemble cast where we're not worried about all the wrong things."

It is certainly clear from what we've seen so far that Campbell relishes the role of Sam, playing up all of Sam's greater and lesser qualities. In fact, the entire cast seems really at home in their roles, be it chatting about small things and fixing Madeleine's house after an explosion, breaking into a storage unit in the middle of the night, or swimming a few miles in the Atlantic.

The third season of Burn Notice brings back all that has made the show popular and so much fun – great humor; action; an intricate, ever-developing story; and the sort of interesting, fully fleshed-out, oddball characters that USA has built its brand around. Perhaps the show is becoming a little over the top with its subtitling of characters upon their introduction – what once was funny and different seems all too foolish now – but the quibble is a small one. In the first few episodes of the new season the series seems to have avoided the pitfalls of the all-too-predictable storytelling it fell into last season, which is just another sign that things are looking up for the show.

In short, Burn Notice is a summer show not to be missed.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.