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 third season of the series is an enjoyable expansion of the story - while it doesn't venture into surprising territory, it does at least give the new storylines an enjoyable, sun-soaked edge. Picking up after the events of the second season, in the third season, Michael has learned that the organization that kept him off the grid, lead by Management (John Mahoney) has lifted the veil that they had placed over Michael, leaving him back on the radar again.
Now that police and other agencies are aware of Michael once again, he has all new issues to be concerned with, such as Detective Michelle Paxson (Moon Bloodgood), who has made it her mission to catch Michael in the midst of doing something illegal. The series also adds a pair of entertaining new villains in the form of Brennan (Jay Karnes) and Tom Strickler (Ben Shenkman), who are quite well-developed characters and fun additions to the series.
The performances in season three of “Burn Notice” remain sharp, especially Donovan and Campbell who play well off of each other. The series needs a dose of sharply funny humor, and Campbell more than capably provides the show's laughs. Gabrielle Anwar gives another fine performance as Fiona, who has more chemistry with Donovan as the series goes on. Bloodgood provides a solid, sleek performance as the cop on Michael's path - that's saying a lot for a role that could have been irritating and slowed the pace of the series. Overall, the series does a nice job taking the core idea to the next level up in this season.
Though there are some things about the series that grow a bit tiresome - like the frequent freeze frames - but it stands out as one of the network's finer productions, with well-crafted stories and frequently enjoyable writing. 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 tone of the show. Overall, “Burn Notice” is definitely worth a look, as it continues provides an enjoyable combo of action, humor and mystery.
• Season 3
29 3-01 04/Jun/09 Friends and Family
30 3-02 11/Jun/09 Question & Answer
31 3-03 18/Jun/09 End Run
32 3-04 25/Jun/09 Fearless Leader
33 3-05 09/Jul/09 Signals and Codes
34 3-06 16/Jul/09 The Hunter
35 3-07 23/Jul/09 Shot In The Dark
36 3-08 30/Jul/09 Friends Like These
37 3-09 06/Aug/09 Long Way Back
38 3-10 21/Jan/10 A Dark Road
39 3-11 28/Jan/10 Friendly Fire
40 3-12 04/Feb/10 Noble Causes
41 3-13 11/Feb/10 Enemies Closer
42 3-14 18/Feb/10 Partners in Crime
43 3-15 25/Feb/10 Good Intentions
44 3-16 04/Mar/10 Devil You Know
VIDEO: The show is presented in 1.78:1 by 20th Century Fox. Presentation quality is okay, 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 Dolby Digital 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: "Smash, Crash, Boom" stunt featurette, "2009 Comic-Con" featurette.
Final Thoughts: "Burn Notice" is wonderfully entertaining and is definitely a recommended watch for those who haven't seen the series. The video quality is a touch rough, but the audio/video quality is otherwise satisfactory. The set only includes a couple of minimal extras. Recommended.