The fourth season of Burn Notice hits
makes its way on to
DVD just in time for the TV premier of the fifth season in a few short
weeks. An action/spy show with a good
dollop of comedy and just a touch of romance and mystery, Burn Notice is still
as fun and exciting as it ever was.
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
they decide to 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
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.
Like the previous seasons, this set of shows has a larger
plot running through the whole year. At
the end of season three, Michael was barely able to stop a psychopathic
from blowing up parts of Miami's
skyline. In this season, the
organization that arranged for Weston to get burned needs his help. They want him to track down the man who sent
the psycho. He's very leery about
working with the people who ruined his life, but when he sees the
mystery man can do, he agrees to look into it, as long as he's calling
The first thing Michael does is break into a Federal office
building, with some intel from his new contact Vaughn, and steals some
hopes will lead him to the man he's tracking.
Unfortunately, the main thing this act does is get the
operative in charge of the files, Jesse Porter, burned.
Feeling guilty about this, Michael manages to meet Jesse,
sets him up with a room in his mother's garage, and takes him on as
part of his
crew. With the new member, the group
continues to help people that the law can't while searching for the
uber-criminal who is neigh untouchable.
This season was good solid entertainment. It's
not quite as good as the previous year's
worth of shows, but only by a small margin.
There were several exciting and funny episodes and zipping
whole series in short order was very enjoyable.
Highlights include the episode where Michael helps protect the
running a neighborhood clinic from a group of drug dealers (the ending
especially entertaining) and the installment where Michael asks him
help him rob a bank.
The key to this show's success is the right mix of action,
humor, and characterization. No one
aspect dominates the program and that's not an easy mix to pull off. I was a little worried about the addition of
Jesse to the show, but it turned out to be the right move.
The new team member doesn't work as well with
the others, which is natural. Jesse
likes to do things his way and doesn't always agree with Michael's
the slight friction is realistic and entertaining.
The only real critique I have is that the
show is starting to get a little repetitive.
Some of the plots seem a bit to similar to stories from past
seasons. This hasn't become a real
problem yet, but they do need to mix things up a bit from time to time.
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
favorite style, it does manage to create an atmosphere.
The overall image is pretty good, but it is a
step down from the Blu-ray release that they had for 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 is some
aliasing, especially when they pan across the Miami skyline, but its never
They included a single commentary track on this set (to the
final episode) which is nice. The lack
of any commentaries was something that was noticeably missing from the
release. In addition there are some fun
video bonuses. Sam Axe's Guide
to Ladies and Libations is a funny bit where Bruce
Campbell looks at his character that is well worth watching. There is a pair of 'roasts' (Burn
Notice Roasts White Collar and White Collar Roasts
Burn Notice) that
have a few funny moments but are not as entertaining as I was hoping. Those interested in the behind-the-scenes
running of a show will enjoy Best-Laid
Plans: The Stunts of Burn Notice
where, as you'd guess from the title, some of the stunts are examined. The set is rounded off with a slightly
amusing gag reel and a series of deleted scenes.
I'll be the first to admit that you have to be willing to
suspend your disbelief while watching this series, but if you can do
you'll find a hip, cool, spy show that has just the right mix of
and sticky situations. Season four is just
as entertaining as the previous three, even if some of the plots seem
familiar. It's a show that's a lot of
fun to watch. Highly Recommended.