BURN NOTICE: Long live Bruce Campbell, a sci-fi favorite (2010)

At Comic-Con, just as the “Burn Notice” panel was underway with much hilarity by moderator Chris Vance, director and special guest star Tim Matheson, and series co-star Bruce Campbell, as a special treat for “Burn Notice” fans, USA Network announced today that it had green lit the prequel movie starring Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe.

In a special preview clip, Campbell’s Sam Axe told a resistant suspect, “Have you ever heard of Michael Weston?” and the guy then flippantly replied, “He’s like the boggieman, not real” — only to have Michael sarcastically say from just behind, “I don’t know about that.” However, while Michael may be the focus of “Burn Notice,” he is nothing without his right-hand man Sam Axe. And in Ballroom 20, the fans clearly thought that Bruce was The Man bringing down the house by paying cash for compliments and deftly deflecting proposals from forward female fans. It is not a small wonder that USA Network chose to capitalize on the popularity of Campbell by agreeing to a special television movie showcasing the Axe character.

Taking a moment to compliment Tim Matheson, who not only directs on the show, but who also guest stars as Larry, the psycho killer spy, Nix shared that of all their directors, Matheson is one of their favorites — despite the fact that he is the one who comes up with the most outrageous ideas. Nix provide an absurd example of Matheson asking for a crane on top of a crane, which was perhaps a reference to the scene where Matheson needed two separate helicopters in order to do a particular scene or had a dump truck drive up into the back of a pick-up truck. Despite Matheson’s grand ideas of what would look cool, everyone was quick to admit that he is a great guy to work with and they were never more thrilled than to be working with him both as a director and as Larry, the trigger-happy spy.

Campbell also complimented Matheson by sharing that Larry is such a sleazy and weaselly character — and nobody does that better than Matheson. Nix also shared that Matheson is one of the few people who can go from affectionate to rage in seconds so seamlessly and explained that it is simply a quirk of Tim’s character Larry that his way of demonstrating affection is to think that killing someone is the best way to protect them. It is a sick, warped logic, but there is a logic to it.

Nix also analogized that in Michael Weston’s life, Sam is the angel and Larry is the devil sitting on his shoulders and that both have essential roles in Michael’s life. Sam is the voice of consciousness reminding Michael that he can make the right choices and Larry is the one whispering the dark truths that even Michael wont admit to himself. It is a tug-of-war for Michael’s humanity and that tension makes the show more compelling and fascinating to watch.

Complimenting the writers not only for their extraordinary work in creating Matheson’s character, Campbell shared that he is constantly surprised and delighted with what the writers have done with his and Gabrielle Anwar’s characters. He said that Sam and Fiona could easily be caricatures or parodies, but as deftly written for “Burn Notice,” they are much more than that. Though he did quip that in an upcoming episode Fiona gets kidnapped, which is a huge mistake on the kidnapper’s part as she rains down hell on earth on the guy. As Campbell gravely and humorously quipped, “Never kidnap Fiona!”

Another fun reveal from the panel was the fact that the “Burn Notice” writers offices are literally across the street from a local ATF division and that when Max Nix had an opportunity to speak with one of their enforcement officers, the guy responded, “Yes, we’re very aware of you.” Apparently, some concerned local citizens occasionally try to report that they have found a local terrorist cell and the ATF agency merely responds, “No, that’s just Burn Notice.” Though, a bit sheepishly, Nix did admit that that they do get requests occasionally to scale back a particular scene or stunt, which they of course comply with. No sense of incurring the wrath or undue attention of any of the law enforcement agencies.

“Burn Notice” may be a show about spies and the unique ethical dilemmas they face, but it is also a show made by an extraordinary group of people who simply love telling a fun story and who have a fun time doing it.

“Burn Notice” currently airs Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. on USA Network.

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