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Guest-Starring Michael Weston


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#1 rsvoss19

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 07:49 AM

That really got my attention! Michael Weston guest-starring in Burn Notice? After the show, I googled "Michael Weston," to find that this is actually the screen name of a character actor of whom I first took notice in his role as the private investigator in House, but whose name I never bothered to discover. Formerly Michael Rubinstein, he pops up in a lot of shows (wiki him, and you'll get a complete list). To be sure, Jeffrey Donovan's Burn Notice character's name is spelled "Westen," not "Weston," but that's easy to forget. (There is also a prominent hotel chain with yet another spelling of that second syllable.)

There were evidently plans at some point for a spin-off of House, featuring Weston's private-detective character. Maybe they're still on. Weston is an engaging actor, who I think will find a good home on the USA Network.

Weston's character in "Signals and Codes" (July 9, 2009) was an MIT graduate able to see "patterns" in everything and a head filled with alien conspiracy theories. I thought the brief reference to his "doctoral studies" at MIT was over the top, but at least there was no reference that he had actually graduated with a Ph.D. there. That he might have passed his field exams (peppered with curious references to extraterrestrials) is plausible, but that he probably failed to convince a committee of faculty members to support what would probably have been a really weird doctoral project is also tempting to believe (and so maybe he bailed out in "ABD" status and got a job as a janitor, having failed to convince community colleges that he could teach rationally).

Some elements of "Signals and Codes" seemed a little forced to me. First, how quickly Michael Westen (the spy) opted to portray Michael Westen (the actor, in his role as the MIT-educated janitor and conspiracy theorist) as a former NSA operative to the lead antagonist, Shannon Park (played by Katherine LaNasa), when obviously Weston's nutcase character could never be too terribly convincing in such a role (Michael Westen the spy is usually a lot more airtight in his contrived dupes). Beyond that, I thought that it was far too easy for Sam Axe to convince Shannon Park to attend his empowerment seminar, or even for Michael Westen (the spy again) to browbeat Shannon Park, who seemed too strong a character to fall for that. Nevertheless, it did add a humorous twist where an alternative rendering might have resulted in something more convincing but boring: Sam Axe shouldn't be going around giving empowerment seminars.

My take is that the forced elements of "Signals and Codes" were, if anything, a product of a tight time frame. An episode in which it is necessary to develop a new character consumes extra time, so helpful snippets, like seeing them prepare the spoofed e-mail message to announce Sam's empowerment seminar, watching Sam hitting computer keys to add some finishing touches to an outsourced slide presentation early in the show, or seeing Fiona Glenanne coaching Weston (the nutcase) on how to talk straight to portray a former NSA operative, just didn't have any room to fit. I can live with that. Besides, some noticeable effort was made to portray Katherine LaNasa's Shannon Park character as a very reluctant empowerment seminar participant.

For another take, here's an enlightening link on the "Signals and Codes" episode (I didn't get a chance to read all of Sam Axe's slides, but a couple of them are mentioned in one of the comments):

http://www.avclub.co...and-codes,30213

Edited by rsvoss19, 10 July 2009 - 07:52 AM.

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#2 rsvoss19

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 11:27 AM

Aha! Spencer (actor Michael Weston) did his doctoral studies at Duke! No difference though. I still think he would have bailed. The Duke folks wouldn't be any more likely to accept Spencer's probably very weird doctoral-dissertation research idea than the MIT folks.

Thanks to this forum, I'm very quickly becoming a cultish Burn Notice nerd. I've started noticing all kinds of details, like the brief Spirit Airlines appearance early in the replay of the show. I wondered whether it was product placement, realizing that it only lasted for about half a second.
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#3 FiRocks

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Posted 11 July 2009 - 11:45 AM

Hi and welcome to the boards. FYI we already have an episode discussion thread for this, that's normally where we put comments about the episodes, guest stars, etc. You can find it here: http://forums.usanet...howtopic=436049
Perhaps a moderator could merge the two threads?




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