After a first season that pleased both critics and a newly formed collective of fans, Burn Notice quickly joined the ranks of the USA fleet of shows that have started on and flourished on the unique cable network. There are few networks like USA where these quirky and out of the ordinary shows can spawn and flourish and they’ve done quite the superb job of crafting these shows that are refreshingly original. It started early on with Monk and continues with new seasons of Psych and Burn Notice and even with the new additions of Royal Pains and White Collar, both of which will be returning to the network whenever USA’s oddly divided seasons start up again. By now, Burn Notice could be considered a USA veteran, despite only gearing up for its fourth season in a few weeks, and this third season attracted some of the shows highest ratings yet (and also, sadly, some of its lowest…but let’s not dwell on that).
Jeffrey Donovan (Changeling, “Crossing Jordan”) plays blacklisted spy Michael Westen, a free agent following his “burn notice” that effectively wiped out his existence: no work history, money or identity. Watching his back are friends, Sam played by Bruce Campbell (Army Of Darkness) and sexy ex-girlfriend Fiona played by Gabrielle Anwar (“The Tudors,” Scent Of A Woman), but with friends like this Westen often finds himself in even hotter water!
I’m not sure why that’s the official synopsis of this season as it tells you zip about it and it acts as more of a series overview. Granted, the show’s highest viewership was 7.6 million (for the mid-season finale from this third season), which, while nothing to sneeze at, is still pretty low when you take into account just how many people are armed with televisions. So the fact they still try to advertise this show (on retail shelves) as something more simple than what it is shouldn’t be surprising…although, admittedly, it does take the easy route quite frequently during the series as well.
Anyway, this season starts out with our beloved Michael Westen free from the “Management” that burned him. The only problem is he’s effectively not being hidden from local law enforcement now, which results in some messy (albeit brief) run-ins with police detective Michelle Paxson (Moon Bloodgood) where she attempts to take Westen down for being too awesome (or something to that effect). That whole angle of the story, which seemed to be a big one at the start of the season, died down and eventually went away entirely when more important fish began to swim into the picture, especially when the characters Tom Strickler (Ben Shenkman) and Mason Gilroy (Chris Vance) began showing up.
Truth be told while this season did progress Westen’s lust to be back in the spy game, it really didn’t push him any closer to his ultimate goal (well it did in the end, I think, but it was so vague we won’t see the fruits of that labor until the fourth season starts). But I honestly don’t care—it’s such a fun show that tinkering with the formula that works just seems to be a rather idiotic idea and I think that’s why we’ve essentially been spinning our tires in terms of any real story and character development. Sure, Fiona and Michael have upped their relationship a bit but it’s always filled with the same dialogue and poutiness from both parties. Though, again, it’s a dynamic of the show that, if changed, could have adverse effects so progressing things slowly is probably more advised anyway.
Of course there’s also the inclusion of Bruce Campbell’s character who is relentlessly entertaining and we also got to see him stand up to Michael after things went a little too far with one of Sam’s Navy contacts. It was definitely a cool thing to see his character do, but far from the most entertaining of the season. No, that was when he played a crime scene analyst squint and iterated some horrible cheesy dialogue in the fashion of CSI: Miami…complete with the sunglasses. It was all very entertaining and was probably one of the most exciting episodes of the season.
Overall Burn Notice’s third season really didn’t go anywhere, per say, but the story did advance forth little-by-little and mixed with the always enjoyable barrage of characters and stories (and that awesome 1973 Dodge Charger) this season comes Recommended for newcomers as it’s a pretty easy story to get into and Highly Recommended for current fans (if you somehow haven’t already seen it).
Apparently the second season didn’t sell well enough on Blu-ray because here we are with a DVD-only third season…oh well. The set arrives in a four-disc tray array housed inside of a standard width viva-multi-pak case. A single insert is included to advertise the new season, but the jacket art is double sided which boasts the disc-by-disc breakdown. Video is what you’d expect from a modern show and with four episodes per disc it has suitable room to breathe without any kind of overly exhausting compression rearing its head…although the series penchant for fast-movie pans of Miami does cause some blocking on occasion (and when mixed with the series grainy nature it can get a bit dicey). Audio is a standard DD5.1 mix and the shows action-based nature creates for some solid surround effects as well as a throaty LFE output guaranteed in pretty much every episode.
Extras are, sadly, limited but include:
Smash, Crash, Boom: Inside the Burn Notice Stunt Unit (9:45)
2009 San Diego Comic-Con International Panel (10:04)
Yeah, not a lot there but the panel addition is nice, as is the stunt info. Sadly we get no commentaries, deleted scenes, or a blooper reel (which we got all of in the past season set release), so that makes this set a bit neutered feeling. Still, fans will enjoy the featurettes even if they’ll occupy less than twenty minutes of your time. It’s really quite a mediocre set of extras too, as the Comic-Con panel features only a couple actors from the show (two rather infrequent ones at that) and for the most part it’s just Bruce Campbell acting awesome…which is fine, but there really isn’t much (if any) insight into this season. Still a Recommended set for fans just so they can own the episodes, but newcomers will probably want to rent it first.
Burn Notice – Season Three arrives on DVD on June 1st.