DVD REVIEW: Burn Notice: Season Three – Long on Entertainment; Short on Extras!


Season two of Burn Notice ended with Michael Westen [Jeffrey Donovan] making a perhaps not so clean break with Management [John Mahoney], head of the clandestine government agency that burned him. This after learning that the very agency that burned him had protected him from his enemies – and seen to it that the police hadn’t interfered while he was helping others.

Friends & Family, the first post-Management protection episode, found Michael being trundled off to jail – once he’d swum back to Miami Beach from his aborted helicopter ride. Not only had Management stopped protecting him, someone made the police and, apparently, foreign agencies aware of him – and his location.

Michael winds up getting bailed out of jail by an old friend, Harlan [Brian Van Holt, Cougar Town] and persuaded to help take down a South American crook who has bribed officials to jail landowners so he can get the land for nothing. Meanwhile, Sam [Bruce Campbell] and Fiona [Gabrielle Anwar] are making plans to fix Madeline’s sun room which was destroyed in the second season finale.

Unfortunately, Michael’s also become a person of interest to a tough cop, Detective Michelle Paxson [Moon Bloodgood], who’s making it her business to catch him doing something/anything criminal – and he usually has to do something illegal in the course of helping others. This plays out over several episodes.

Just to keep out gang of do-gooders hopping, there’s also a couple of new villains in town: Brennan [Jay Karnes], a black market dealer, and Tom Strickler [Ben Shenkman], a middleman who lines up gigs for enterprising agents. In Strickler’s case, Michael sees him as a resource to help him get his Burn Notice revoked.

Burn Notice is one of the most entertaining shows on TV at any time of year. Its third season is well constructed, with the Brennan and Strickler arcs giving the writers ample opportunity to lay in more of the background mythology and providing a wealth of unfortunates for Michael, Sam and Fiona to rescue. Each character is well drawn and their development is broadened as the show progresses.

The show is one of the beautiful to watch, as well. There is plenty of exotic scenery [from nifty locations to beautiful women in bikinis] and the series gets full value from it. It helps that the show is actually shot in Miami – there’s almost always lots of blue sky and the show’s ever-so-slightly heightened look is almost another character.

Whether the gang is taking down drug lords, preventing a corporation from selling government secrets, or helping a boy deal with his abusive father, Burn Notice is fun for the whole family – in the same way that MacGyver and The Rockford Files [two of the show’s many influences] were. It can get dark from time to time, but it’s generally high-octane, high quality fun.

While the third season of Burn Notice was good enough that a DVD set that only contained its sixteen episodes would be worth acquiring, the features that are included [two ten-minute featurettes] do nothing to further distinguish the set. The lack of any features of substance [like commentary tracks] is more of a detriment to the set, rather than a real bonus.

Features: Smash, Crash, Boom: Inside the Burn Notice Stunt Unit [a ten-minute look at the stuntwork for the season finale, Devil You Know]; 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International [ten minutes of highlights from the Burn Notice panel at Comic-Con].

Grade: Burn Notice: Season Three – A

Grade: Features – D

Final Grade: A-