“My name is Michael Weston. I used to be a spy until, ‘you’ve got a burn notice’. When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing. No cash, no credit, no job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in. You do whatever work comes your way. You rely on anyone who’s still talking to you, a trigger happy ex-girlfriend, an old friend who used to inform on you to the FBI, family too, if you’re desperate. Bottom line: Until you figure out who burned you, you’re not going anywhere.”
Burn Notice has all the earmarks of a really great television series. It has Bruce Campbell, and that alone should make it worth watching. The concept is a clever one and not the usual kind of spy show we’ve already seen too much of. The problem is that it’s not a great show. It’s not even a very good show. Campbell is way too underutilized and would have improved this series if he’d been in the lead role. I can see him as Weston big time. The series is also way too over stylized. Ever since 24 and those distracting frames there has been this race to see who can be the most distracting and annoying. Burn Notice wins hands down. There is this incessant need to freeze frame the image at the most ludicrous moments. Somehow this is intended to up the drama ante. If that’s the ante, I fold. There’s too much annoying narration from Weston. Back in writing school you’re taught over and over again that you need to show, not tell. Here the Weston narration treats us like we’re kindergarten kids who need every little action he takes explained in incredibly boring detail. He then throws in some not very funny moments of wit that just fall flat.
The USA network has had a pretty good track record of exceptional shows with very embraceable characters. From The Dead Zone to Monk there have been some wonderfully character driven series. I think maybe this quirky idea that started with Monk might have run its course, and it’s time to look in a new direction. Here that off-center attitude is already getting to appear forced. It’s as if they were going to push these characters into that established mold no matter how much they had to pound that square peg into that round hole. What made these other characters good wasn’t just their quirky natures. It was the ease with which the actors fell into that nature. Again, this might have worked with Bruce Campbell in the Weston role. Instead Jeffrey Donovan doesn’t have enough presence to really pull it off. I can understand why he got burned. He’s too damn annoying. It irks me just to hear him speak, and that’s a huge problem because he talks almost nonstop.
Each episode is presented in its original HD broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived through a very average AVC/MPEG-4 codec. There really isn’t anything wrong with this image, but it never cries out in glorious HD brilliance, either. It’s shot in Miami, and when you look at shows like Dexter with the same locations and climate it’s like night and day. The cinematography is rather dull and lacking in any distinctive color. There’s a greater amount of detail than a DVD could offer, but the whole image is rather mundane. Even the fire explosions and colorful garb never really manage to excite the senses here. They put 6 episodes on a disc, so you don’t get more than about a 20 or so mbps bit rate. Very average.
The DTS-HD Master Audio track is pretty solid. I was impressed with sub levels and sound placement overall. There’s a ton of dialog here, and it works well. I did have a few problems, however, with balance. There are times you need to adjust the volume as some of the louder segments are not quite properly mastered with the overall level. It’s an inconvenience to say the least.
There are several Audio Commentaries. These feature various cast and crew and offer very much the typical stuff.
Deleted Scenes: Each disc contains some deleted footage from episodes on the disc.
Boom Notice: (8:26) This one is not listed on the package, but can’t be classified as an Easter Egg since it appears in the main features menu. It’s a spoof of the show dealing with a television boom operator. It’s actually a pretty good laugh and the best extra on the set.
Nixin’ It Up On Burn Notice: (13:57) Matt Nix is the creator of the show and also directed one of this season’s episodes. He pretty much goes on and on about how he had to answer to himself. Yeah, it’s good to be the king.
I’m sure the show has fans, and I expect you’ll defend the honor of “your show”. That’s cool. I really tried to like it a lot. There’s just too much in the way of distractions. It’s a shame, really, because I’m a huge Bruce Campbell fan, but see him as just wasted in this effort. The series that looked like it had it all, and in high definition Blu-ray, no less. Why is it “I feel like I just got burned all over again?”