Burn Notice: Season Two (Blu-ray)
Release Date: June 16, 2009
Own it on Blu-ray and DVD
Created by: Matt Nix
Stars: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell
MPAA Rating: Unrated
While summer is a wonderful time for outdoor fanatics who enjoy things like picnics, hiking and barbecues, it’s a rather bleak time for those of us who prefer to spend our days inside an air conditioned house watching television.
Luckily, the USA Network is doing its part to entertain the lazy masses with the best original summertime programming on television. One of USA’s top summer show is Burn Notice, which is the story of a spy named Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who wakes up in his hometown of Miami to discover that the agency he worked for has blacklisted him and frozen all of his assets.
Westen reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), who is a former IRA member, and Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), an intelligence operative and former Navy SEAL who used to rat out Michael to the FBI. The three join together to form a freelance team of unlicensed private investigators who help people get out of tough situations with criminals in Miami. In many ways, they are a modern day A-Team, surviving “as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help and if you can find them, maybe you can hire” Michael Westen’s team.
While the show is definitely a throwback to great 70s and 80s shows like The A-Team, it is shot and edited in a very modern way. The show also uses voiceovers from Westen, which help to advance the plot and also offer entertaining “do-it-yourself” tips on things like evasive driving and planting bugs in people’s homes. Since Westen’s assets are frozen and he no longer has access to top-of-the-line spy equipment, he is constantly forced to improvise weapons and equipment to aid him on his missions and he is also kind enough to take the time to explain how the viewers can make these items themselves.
Each episode features a new client who hires the team to help get him/her out of a jam. While the episodes are typically self-contained, Michael’s desire to discover why he was burned and to get himself re-instated as a spy serves as the show’s overarching plot. The show also finds a way to make the most of its basic cable budget and manages to offer explosions, car crashes, gunfire and other eye-catching action scenes on a weekly basis.
Season two picks up right where season one left off, with Westen driving off to finally meet face-to-face with a woman named Carla who works for the group that got him blacklisted. Carla informs our hero that he was burned by her group so that he would work for them. Throughout the season, Michael must balance his freelance work with assignments given to him by Carla, all while trying to figure out who she is working for and what they are using him for. It’s a good way to keep the show’s overall plot moving and the writers do a good job mixing in Carla’s missions with the regular do-gooder missions that have become the show’s trademark.
Jeffery Donovan does a great job playing Westen. While the makers of the show could have easily cast a pretty boy James Bond type, it’s refreshing to see an unconventional-looking actor like Donovan playing the role. Instead of simply getting by on looks, Westen uses his intelligence and charisma to solve his clients’ problems. Donovan is also good at using various accents and mannerisms to create different cover identities while on cases.
The supporting cast is also very strong on the show. Sam Axe, the aging ladies man who Michael isn’t quite sure he can trust, is a perfect role for Bruce Campbell and it’s really great to see the iconic B-movie actor finally get a role on a lasting TV show, after so many of the promising shows he worked on were canceled after one season. Gabrielle Anwar brings a lot of intensity to the role of Fiona, who is portrayed as a somewhat unstable soldier who loves blowing things up. Sharon Gless is also quite enjoyable as Madeline Westen, Michael’s nagging, chain-smoking mother and Tricia Helfer is a great addition as Carla.
The box set of season two comes with audio commentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel. There is also a featurette called “Nixing It Up on Burn Notice,” which focuses on the episode “Do No Harm,” which was directed by series creator/writer Matt Nix.
Nix does a great job giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Do No Harm” and it was also really endearing to learn that he gave his own six-year-old son a starring role in the episode. The last disc also has an unadvertised bonus feature called “Boom Notice,” which is a satirical piece spotlighting a boom operator on the show. “Boom Notice” goes on a little too long, but the concept is rather entertaining.
I would recommend getting the Blu-ray version of this series if possible. The bright Miami skylines really pop in high def and all of the explosions and gunfire sound great. But whether you go Blu-ray or DVD, I definitely recommending picking up season two (and season one) and catching up on the show so that you can spend the rest of your summer watching season three, which is currently airing Thursday nights on USA.
Written by Joel Murphy. Burn Notice: Season Two is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.