Cable networks continue to push ahead of the network competition, with both pay and basic cable networks continuing to find success with shows like "Burn Notice", "True Blood" and more. "Notice" is a newer series for USA and stars Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, a former CIA Operative who received his "Burn Notice" in season one - the notice meaning that he'd suddenly and inexplicably been blacklisted from the agency.
As a result, he gets left out in the cold, with little in the way of resources and no knowledge of who slammed the door on his career. Trying his best to start over in Miami, Michael finds help in the form of spy Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), ex-IRA member and ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar). With little other choice, Michael tries to start over, taking on jobs in order to bring in money.
Following season one’s intense final episode, season two manages to deliver a top notch first episode and a collective, entertaining 16 episode season. Season two is just as fun as the first season and manages to be even more witty, explosive and involving. The characters feel richer in season two and the cases Michael takes on are still interesting. Not to mention the fact that Michael must now face the knowledge of who caused his burn notice, while finding a way to meet them face to face.
Carla (Tricia Helfer), the woman who burned Michael after watching him, puts him to work by threatening him if he doesn’t help her. In “Breaking and Entering”, she insists Michael help a computer tech steal some files, which he does to get closer to finding out just who is behind his sudden dismissal. The more he does for his new handler, Carla, the closer he slowly comes to finding out what company she’s working for as well as her motives. This season works nicely with the first. Both seasons follow Michael as he seeks answers, but each ask different questions which manages to keep the series feeling fresh.
The performances in season two of “Burn Notice” remain sharp, especially Donovan and Campbell who play well off of each other. Campbell’s humorous delivery fits the writing perfectly. Gabrielle Anwar gives another fine performance as Fiona, but she’s definitely more enjoyable in the tougher scenes, as opposed to the romantic scenes with Michael. The addition of Helfer as Carla was a good one, as she adds another layer to the cast that was missing in season one.
Though there are some things about the series that grow a bit tiresome - like the frequent freeze frames - it stands out as one of USA networks finer productions with well crafted stories and enjoyable writing. Even the feeling that you’re watching a series from the late eighties grows on you after the first few episodes. While consistent voice over in a series can sometimes distract from the story being told, Michael’s informative and defining voice over adds to the feel and depth of the show. The characters remain interesting throughout and season two manages to reveal more depth that helps keep the series feeling accessable. Overall, “Burn Notice” is definitely worth a look, as it provides an enjoyable combo of action, humor and mystery.
VIDEO: The show is presented in 1.78:1 (1080p/AVC) by 20th Century Fox. However, presentation quality is mildly disappointing, as various issues are seen from time-to-time during all episodes. Sharpness and detail are average, as while the picture looks reasonably crisp in a good deal of the exterior scenes, other scenes look noticeably on the soft side.
Worse, mild edge enhancement is seen during several scenes and some light traces of pixelation are also spotted. The series has a gritty, grainy appearance, but the grainy, rough look isn't handled as well as one would desire by the transfer. Colors look a little overheated (even for Miami) but are generally okay.
SOUND: "Burn Notice" is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The show's audio is also just satisfactory, with unremarkable use of the rear speakers and audio quality that's generally okay - dialogue sounds clear and easily understood, but effects lack bass/fullness.
EXTRAS: “NIXin’ It Up On Burn Notice” - Creator Matt Nix talks about the process of writing for the series as well directing the cast. There’s a nice amount of extra footage and insight into the process of bringing the characters and storyboarding to life, as well as details regarding shooting in Miami and the humor of the show.
Deleted Scenes for several episodes including: Disc 1: “Breaking and Entering”, “Trust Me” & “Comrades” Disc 2: “Double Booked” & “Do No Harm” Disc 3: “Truth and Reconciliation”, “Lesser Evil”. While it’s easy to see why the deleted scenes weren’t necessary for the overall telling of the story, they’re certainly worth a look. Several of them are humorous and worth watching, while the rest may also interest fans of the show.
Commentary for “Bad Blood” with Bronwen Hughes, Ben Watkins, Rashad Raisani, Matt Nix, Rob Benedict and Method Man. This commentary was uneventful and didn’t seem to add much to the episode. While not the worst commentary, it was a little lackluster for anything less than an avid fan of the show.
Commentary for “Double Booked” with Tim Matheson, Jason Tracey, Craig O’Neill and Matt Nix.
Commentary for “Lesser Evil” commentary with Matt Nix, Bruce Campbell and Michael Shanks. The commentary has some lags in conversation, but when they do speak up they offer some details about the actors and characters as well as the episode. Not the most entertaining commentary, but fans may enjoy.
There’s a sunglasses icon that takes you to a spoof on “Burn Notice” called “Boom Notice” about a boom operator named Fred who was given his Boom Notice. A “Gag Reel” as well as Trailers for “Pink Panther 2” and “12 Rounds” are also included on the Blu-ray DVD.
Final Thoughts: "Burn Notice" is wonderfully entertaining and is definitely a recommended watch for those who haven't seen the series, but the Blu-Ray presentation does come up a bit short in terms of audio/video quality.