OK, OK, I admit it: Burn Notice is The A-Team 27 years later

What it was, was the fact that Burn Notice reminds me of everything The A-Team did for me when I was, like, ten, only written, acted and filmed to fit squarely within the clever, detailed and somewhat self-aware landscape of New Millennium TV. It's familiar and satisfying on a level so far below the whoa-I'm-obsessed-with-mood-and-subtext attitude with which I generally approach contemporary television that it's damn near subconscious.

Come on. A crew of outlaws, championing those trod-upon average Joes without the resources to defend themselves whenever they're not trying to clear Michael Westen's name? That operates outside of the law, with smarts and verve? That improvises constantly, cracking wise in the process? That almost never kills anybody?

Changes in temporal and cultural style and vibe aside, that's one of, seriously, two differences between Burn Notice and The A-Team: that occasionally, somebody gets shot or even killed on Burn Notice. (Other difference: no regular black guy, mohawk and jewelry or otherwise.)

And now that I've accepted it, it's fine with me. Ten or 37, sometimes I just want the good guys that everybody thinks are bad guys to crack wise while they figure out how to use their limited resources to get the real bad guys.

But yeah, it's basically The A-Team.

I was hooked on basic-cable network USA's vigilantes-with-heart series Burn Notice from the first episode. And that's always bothered me a little bit. Not that it's not a good show, but it's not, you know, a great one or a groundbreaking one or a provocative button-pushing one; given its lush location and colorful cinematography and attractive principals, it's fairly blue collar as contemporary crime shoes go.

I thought at first that was what attracted me so immediately to the show. But as my relationship with the program went on, I realized that a sort of straight-up no-frills attitude and solid if not mind-blowing style couldn't be enough to keep me tuning in every Thursday. Nor could the presence of Bruce Campbell—hey, I love the guy, but come on, I don't exactly have McHale's Navy or My Name Is Bruce in my DVD collection—or Jeffrey Donovan, whom I loved in the underrated Touching Evil, or Gabrielle Anwar, who manages to balance being cut and a borderline sun-worshiping cautionary tale with both vulnerability and sex appeal.

So what was it?

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