Micheal Weston is back for another season Burn Notice, the
hip, cool, spy series that has just the right mix of action, humor, and
situations. This third season is just as
entertaining as the previous two, if you concentrate on the individual
and don't try to look at the big picture.
If you do that the series starts to seem a bit silly, but each
individual episode is still a lot of fun. Unfortunately,
Fox is only releasing this season
on DVD only, though season two was available in both SD DVD and Blu-ray. The show's picture was never great, so it's
not a huge loss that there isn't an HD version available but still a
If you've never seen the show before, it revolves around an
ex-spy, Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan), who... well, let me let Michael
explain the show. He does such a good
job in the montage sequence that begins each episode:
My name is Michael Westen. I used to be
a spy. Until... [voice on phone] "We got a burn notice on you. You're
blacklisted." When you're burned, you've
got nothing: no
cash, no credit, no job history. You're stuck in whatever city they
dump you in. You do whatever work comes
your way. You rely on anyone who's still talking to you:
A trigger-happy ex-girlfriend, an old friend
who used to inform on you to the FBI, family too... if you're desperate. Bottom line? Until you figure out who burned
you... you're not going anywhere.
Now Michel lives in a one room loft above a night club, and
hangs out with the aforementioned ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar)
(Bruce Campbell) and occasionally hassled by his mother Madeline
(Sharon Gless). Since he doesn't have a
job and can't get
one, he helps people who have need of his unique abilities. This may involve finding a boy who has been
kidnapped, making sure an abusive father doesn't get custody of his
helping a fashion designer discover who has been stealing from her. Anything that the cops can't, or won't
handle, Michael can.
Each of the first two seasons had a large plot running
through that year's episodes, in addition to the stand alone stories
up the bulk of each show. In the
inaugural season Michael was trying to discover who burned him and why. In the second, Michael was trying to discover
what the mysterious organization he became entangled in was up to. This year there are actually a couple of
larger plots the run sequentially. Now
that "Management" and his group are no longer protecting Michael, his
popped up in databases and reports. Some
old enemies come after him, but the most worrisome is Detective Paxson
Bloodgood) a Miami cop who has linked Michael to a number of crimes...
doesn't have enough proof to arrest him.
Her constant tailing of the ex-spy throws a wrench in the works
of his operations, but it's nothing that he can't handle.
About a third of the way through the season that plot gets
wrapped up and Michael is contacted by a man named Thomas Strickland,
to the spies". He offers Michael
protection, a huge amount of money, and the possibility of getting his
back. All he needs to do is perform some
simple missions and count the money. It's
against Michael's better judgment (and that of Fi and Sam) but the
getting his old job back is too much to resist.
Finally the series winds up with Michael working with a very
talented psychopath named Gilroy. Michael plays along to find out just what Gilroy's
is, and hopefully stop him before he can pull it off.
Like the first two seasons, this set of shows was a lot of
fun. There were several exciting and
funny episodes and zipping through the whole series in short order was
enjoyable. Highlights include the
episode where some of the enemies Fi made back in Ireland track her
when an old friend of Sam's ask for help tracking down a child predator. This latter episode involved Michael dressing
in black and intimidating a local street gang.
He did that by having something blow up every time he snapped
fingers. It was funny, and pretty cool
at the same time.
The only real problem with the show is if you pull back and
look at the big picture. The things that
happen in any one episode (or even a series of them) are fine and don't
too much suspension of disbelief (well, not too, too much...) but when
the series as a whole the events are pretty outlandish.
They tried to get away from that by having
three shorter story arcs this time around, but it mainly served to
people of just how much had gone on before.
Yeah, I'll admit that I'm thinking about this too much and this
is not a
show that stands up to close inspection.
(Even the whole premise is a bit daft.
The CIA basically forces their 'burnt' spies to go rogue since
cut off from their work history, credit, and bank accounts making it
for them to get a legal job. Yeah, that
As for the cast, they do a good job bringing the show to
life. Jeffrey Donovan is cut from the
James Bond mold, a dashing pretty boy who isn't afraid of getting his
dirty, and Gabrielle Anwar is fine as his trigger happy female
counterpart. Anwar is a bit too petit
and waif-like to really pull off fight scenes, but that's forgivable. The real standout among the cast is Bruce
Campbell. Without him the program
wouldn't be half as good. He plays the
womanizing ex-Navy Seal boozehound to perfection. Whenever
he's on the screen the show is much
more interesting (and the writers get kudos for his name, Sam Axe, an
the role that started his career.)
The 16 episodes that make up season three arrive on 4 DVDs
that are housed in a space saving single-width keepcase.
The show's DD 5.1 soundtrack fits it well, though with a
little tweaking the show could have a more engulfing feel.
The whole soundstage is used to good effect
in the action sequences with exploding buildings and crashes filling
with noise. Unfortunately when these are
over, the audio collapses for the most part into a stereo mix. When the main characters are sitting at a
table in a bar, boosting the ambient sound effects going to the rears
bit would have improved things a lot.
Aside from that the show sounds good with strong dialog and a
The visual impact of this show takes a bit of getting used
to. The 1.78:1 anamorphic image
reproduces the show very well, but the look of the show may cause some
to think the disc was poorly mastered.
This isn't the case. The show
itself is soft and grainy, and some scenes are overblown with washed
and white that overpower fine details (these are usually exterior shots
the day, to simulate the bright Miami
sun). That was the look the creators
were going for, and while it's not my favorite style, it does manage to
an atmosphere. The overall image is
pretty good, but it is a step down from the Blu-ray release that they
season two. The detail isn't quite as
fine. I finished up season two immediately
before starting season three and the difference was obvious but not
great. On the digital side of things there
aliasing, especially when they pan across the Miami skyline, but its never
The bonus material is pretty disappointing this time
around. There are no commentaries like
the previous season sets, and all fans get this time are a pair of
featurettes. Smash, Crash, Boom: Inside the Burn Notice Stunt Unit, is, as the
title suggests, a behind-the-scenes look that the stunts that are a
part of the show. It was interesting
enough, but there wasn't much new here.
The other item is a discussion panel with the cast that was held
2009 San Diego Comic-Con. It was pretty
amusing, especially when Bruce Campbell was talking.
This is one of those shows where everything comes together
in just the right way to make a highly enjoyable hour's worth of
entertainment. An action/spy show with a
good dollop of comedy and just a touch of romance and mystery, it's a
at my house. Highly Recommended.