By Ken Tucker
July 22, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT
  • TV Show

Burt Reynolds’ guest star turn on Burn Notice this week was a lot of fun. Playing retired Cold War-era spy Paul Anderson, first seen tending a Florida bar, Reynolds showed that he still knows how to make a long, sarcastic stare work better than three punchlines, and he and Jeffrey Donovan developed a fine comic rhythm.

It’s a good thing Reynolds was around to spark the action — a team of Russian killers was after him, and so he became Michael’s client-of-the-week — because the rest of this Burn Notice showed signs of strain.

The whole Jesse-burn-notice plot is moving at a slow pace; as a result, Coby Bell is increasingly forced to handle scenes in which he stands around griping to Michael, Fiona, and Sam while they stare at their shoes guiltily. What looked, at the start of the season, like a clever idea (Michael burning Jesse, the burnee thus becoming the burner), has fizzled a little. It’s led to grave, awkward moments such as the one that concluded this hour, when Fiona slapped Michael and said, “I can’t stand what you’re turning into.” As Michael might say in one of his patented voice-overs, when you’re a spy, you don’t like to hear that one of your allies doesn’t like you very much anymore.

Which is not to say the episode was a downer. Richard Kind put in a nice appearance as one of Jesse’s old bosses, and John Doman from The Wire was excellently gruff and mean as a cynical Congressman.

And then there was Reynolds. Now in his 70s, he wasn’t shy about joking about his age. “You call me ‘old-timer’ again,” he rasped, “you’re gonna be wearing your ass around your head, like a hat.”

It was that little pause he took after “head,” before “like a hat” — that’s what made Reynolds’ delivery both funny and stinging.

I’d like to see Reynolds return to Burn Notice some time; how about you?

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