Burn Notice: Season One (2007)

Genre(s): Action / Comedy / Drama
Fox || NR - 532 minutes - $49.98 || June 17, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-05-23


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Matt Nix (creator)
Cast: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Scene-Specific Commentary
  • Character Montage
  • Girls Gone Burn Notice Montage
  • Action Montage
  • Gag Reel
  • Audtion Footage


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Fresh and funny, “Burn Notice” is USA Network’s latest hit and another great TV series on cable following the footsteps of others like “Monk” (also on USA), “Saving Grace”, “The Dead Zone” (which has concluded) and “The Closer”. Cable TV is not what it used to be and now they can compete with network programming as well.

“Burn Notice” stars Jeffrey Donovan who rebounds nicely after his intriguing show, “Touching Evil” was terminated far too soon (though if it weren’t, he wouldn’t have this series...). Donovan plays Michael Westen, a U.S. secret agent who receives a burn notice which basically means he has been disavowed, all assets frozen and the Feds have a tail on him to make sure he stays put in Miami. With no credit cards or access to cash, he takes odd jobs to pay the rent in between finding the person or persons who put out the burn notice.

Michael receives help from his ex, Fiona (Anwar), best friend and former Army man, Sam Axe (Campbell) and, when desperate, sometimes requires assist from his mother (Gless). Together, minus mum, they take on jobs to (sometimes) help the innocent like a businessman harassed by a neighborhood gang or identity thieves stealing life-savings from the elderly.

It may sound mundane, but “Burn Notice” in only 11 episodes, has quickly become one of my favorite shows on TV today. The prime reason the series thrives is because of the cast, and Donovan specifically. He exudes a certain dry, sarcastic humor that fits the character so well. He’s a guy who does the right thing but unless he’s strapped for cash and/or on the trail of the burn notice issuer, he’s not a boy scout.

However, a show is nothing without a reliable supporting cast and “Burn” delivers on that end as well. The beautiful and sassy Gabrielle Anwar as Michael’s ex flame plays a character that serves to push Michael, kind of a catalyst but not in a villainess either. The character helps to expand on Michael as a character without it being too obvious. She’s hot, sexy and can handle a gun. What more do you want?

The “comedy relief”, for a lack of a better word, comes from Bruce Campbell’s Sam character. Sam is Michael’s connection to the hierarchs in the Washington D.C. spy world. At the start of the season Sam was recruited to spy and provide reports on Michael’s activities, though he really just gave bits and pieces to satisfy all involved. While Campbell has his share of comedic scenes, which bounce off of Michael’s differing comedic timing, he also has a few dramatic scenes that helps anchor the show.

The storylines can sometimes become too alike at times, a blueprint if you will: Michael takes a case for cash and in between and/or at the end, gets a piece of the puzzle as to who was behind his burn notice. Obviously many shows behave the same but hopefully with season two coming (July 10, 2008), things will be shaken up some.

Overall, “Burn Notice” is a great show that mixes mystery and comedy effectively and evenly together. With the presence and style Jeffrey Donovan provides along with his co-stars Anwar and Campbell, this is a series I hope lasts a long while.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

“Burn Notice: Season One” has a decent amount of features, although a featurette on the first season would have been nice. All features (sans commentary, of course) are in full screen.

Scene-Specific Commentary – This is probably a first for a TV series, but the DVD comes with scene-specific commentary by creator Matt Nix and stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell and Sharon Glass for all 11 episodes. Several scenes for each episode get commented on but the time for each range from 30 seconds to as much as 5 minutes. I’d say on average, per episode, it’s about 15 minutes of commentary. It’s a nice idea but I would have preferred full commentary on 3 or 4 episodes as these scene-specific ones feel disjointed so consistency is hard to develop. I do give them points for trying something different.

Character Montage (1:30), Girls Gone Burn Notice Montage (2:20) and Action Montage (2:43) are scenes throughout the first season where we get to see various lines being used over and over (in the case of character montage), look at some hot Miami ladies (Girls Gone Burn Notice) or check out the big action scenes (Donovan running, gunfire, etc).

Gag Reel (3:08) – No flubbed lines here, but a lot of ad-libbing, especially on Bruce Campbell’s part.

Audition Footage (9:48) – Not the most fascinating thing to watch on these sets, but it is interesting to see the raw footage on how the actors get these parts. Here we have Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar testing for their roles.

And for one last odd inclusion, there is the music video for the theme song of “Saving Grace”.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The picture looks alright but upon closer examination, I did notice quite a bit of grain. Being this takes place and filmed in Miami, the colors are nice and bright. It is presented in anamorphic widescreen which is a nice change from watching the show live in full frame (even the USA HD channel is in full frame).

“Burn Notice” comes equipped with a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. While it’s not very powerful or aggressive it is still alright for most people, just don’t expect to be blown away...



.::OVERALL::.

“Burn Notice” is a fun show that has the potential to last for a few years. When a series can come out of the gate swinging in its first season without having to go through the growing pains like most shows, you know you have something special. With Jeffrey Donovan in the lead and a solid supporting cast, this is one show I can see watching again and again. One word of caution, however: it is pretty expensive retailing around $50 (~$35 in store) for only 11 episodes.