BURN: Episode One
Fearless Cinema/Innovative Productions
Created, Written & Directed by Thor Moreno
Produced by Annette Duffy/Rebecca Masucci
So what is exactly is The American Dream? As a people and as a society we have been debating, arguing, fighting and pondering that question for as long as there has been a United States of America. We all have grown up with the concept of The American Dream and that we should pursue it with all our heart, mind and soul. If we achieve The American Dream then our success and happiness will be assured and we will all live in peace and grace. Our every wish will be fulfilled and our children will grow up happy and prosperous.
Which again begs the question of what exactly is The American Dream?
If you go by a whole lot of crime fiction in movies, books and TV, The American Dream is Crime. And the capital C isn’t by accident. Because Crime, much like Racism is so ingrained into the DNA of America that I honestly don’t believe there’s a way to root either out. Both have become institutionalized to such a degree that there are so many people making money from both that to eliminate either would be to eliminate much of what makes America AMERICA, for better or for worse. And in the case of Crime why else since the beginning of film have we made gangster movies and TV shows based around crime, criminals and those who catch them?
Okay, now that I got your attention with the obligatory social commentary, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of BURN.
The six siblings of the Walsh family have gathered together to bury their father and settle his estate. That estate being a small time but financially lucrative marijuana business tied into the legitimate trucking business also owned by the deceased. Both businesses are left to Leon Walsh (James Serpento) who is not only determined to keep both businesses running but to expand them. His allies are his brothers Paul (Thomas Eckermann) who acts as his consiglieri and Stevie (Adam Melrick) who assures Leon that they could make even more money with the brand of weed that he has access to.
The female contingent of the family led by Berta (Kandace West) thinks it more prudent to simply sell the trucking and weed business, split the profit and everybody go home happy. Berta’s point of view is reinforced by the brutally violent nudgings of a rival crime family eager to acquire the Walsh Family business because thanks to their father, they do control a vital piece of the interstate marijuana trafficking pipeline. Nobody in the Walsh family thinks they have the muscle to stand up to the more powerful syndicate. Except for Leon Walsh. And I highly suspect that is where our story lies.
The Walsh Family aren’t the Corleons or The Sopronos. In fact, the thing that makes BURN interesting, in least in the one episode I’ve seen so far is that most of the family understands that they are not criminals and they are unsuited to the thug life. But Leon sees this as a legacy that can support his family for generations to come and that gives him the justification for a horrendous act of violence that pretty much sets his family on a path that I suspect some of them, if that all, will come to regret.
James Serpento walks off with the acting honors for this one. In his custodianship, Leon Walsh is the type of character you watch because you’re never quite sure what he’s going to do next. There’s a terrific scene he has where he intimidates a man and his mother in their own home and he is friendly, frightening,sad and businesslike all in the same scene. It’s quite a piece of acting and it’s the one (as opposed to a later scene) where Leon really convinced me that he was able to take on the challenge of defending his business.
What else can I recommend about BURN: Episode One? The opening credits which are reminiscent of “The Sopranos.” The cinematography which really gives a feature film feel to this episode. The actors playing Leon and Paul Walsh. I really hate it when a movie or TV show insists on giving us actors who look nothing alike and insisting they’re related. James Serpento and Thomas Eckermann do indeed look like they could be related and they have a truly sweet moment when after having an argument they hug and play fight, much as real-life brothers would do.
What else? While I did miss Annette Duffy who is so memorable in other Thor Moreno productions such as “Kultus” as well as Preshia Paulding and Shawn McAninch who both absolutely owned “Sometime Salvation” we do get to see Kim Grimaldi who put “Kultus” in her back pocket and walk right through the metal detectors without a blip…that’s how badass her performance in that movie was. Well, she has a brief but memorable scene here and says the one line of dialog that I think will come to define the series.
So should you see BURN? I will certainly keep you apprised of the series and let you know when you can see it. And I do recommend that you do so. I’ve been following the career of Thor Moreno for quite a while now and he’s never disappointed me so far. BURN has a very intriguing beginning in its first episode. It’s got a nice twist on the usual gangster/crime story in that we’re not seeing an all-powerful crime family. It’s a family divided in those who want to be criminals and those who don’t. I’m intrigued to see where this is going to go and I think you will be as well if you give it a try.