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Featured TV on DVD Review: Burn Notice: Season Three

June 10th, 2010

Burn Notice: Season Three - Buy from Amazon

Burn Notice began in 2007 and was an instant hit for the USA Network. Season Three was such a success that the network renewed the show for seasons five and six before season four even started. I previously reviewed Season Two back when it came out and loved the show. Can the show maintain this quality throughout Season Three?

First, a quick setup. Burn Notice is about a burned spy, Michael Westen. A burned spy is one that has been, for some reason or another, disavowed by the agency that he worked for. Because spies work with assumed identities, when they are burned all their resource evaporate and they don't have a job history, credit history, etc. that they can use to start a new life. In the pilot, Michael was burned. He learns it was a frame-job. Now he has to rely on the help of his few allies: his ex-girlfriend, an ex-Navy seal, and his mom, to help him clear his name.

Season Three starts out where Season Two left off. Namely, with the meeting with Management's representation going poorly and Michael leaping out of a helicopter over the ocean. Michael leaned that Management is a private black ops organization and that they were the ones that framed him. However, they have also been helping keep him off the radar so he doesn't have to deal with the police and his many enemies. Now that he's refused their job offer, he will be on his own. It doesn't take long for the repercussions of that to become clear.

He immediately becomes the focus of Detective Paxson, who has noticed that since he's come to Miami, things tend to explode more frequently than they had in the past. Michael, Fi, and Sam have to figure a away to get her of their backs, and they can't use the usual methods, as she is a good cop just trying to do her job. Michael makes contact with his former employers through a reluctant spy, Diego Garza, who is working undercover as an import / exporter (an important part of keeping overseas operations supplied). He also has to deal with Tom Strickler, who promises that he can make the process of getting his old job back a lot easier if Michael will do some jobs for him. Neither Fi nor Sam are happy with Michael working for Tom, because he is a "freelance" agent and works with a lot of shady characters. Fi is so upset that she decides to head back to Ireland, a decision Strickler facilitates by releasing her location to some of her enemies. It's a decision he will regret. The final recurring nemesis of the season is Mason Gilroy. Gilroy is, as he is described in the series, a freelance psychopath, but Tom Strickler had Michael do a number of jobs for him and Michael knows that he is planning something big and that he has to stop whatever it is. In order to find out, he has to help him.

Those are the three main arcs of the season, but most of the the 16 episodes from season three also have one-off stories with the group helping someone in need. Sometimes these fit in with the overall storyarc, but many times the two threads only intersect to add further complications.

Highlights for Season Three include... every single episode. There is literally not one episode here that doesn't have high replay value, so picking the best overall is impossible. There are a couple smaller parts of two episodes that have to be mentioned. A Dark Road has a guest spot by Tyne Daly, so we have a Cagney & Lacey reunion, which is handled very well. Also fun is Partners in Crime where Sam goes undercover as a Crime Scene Investigator. A C.S.I. working in Miami? Yep, he does a couple CSI: Miami / David Caruso line readings, and they are pure gold.

I mentioned in my previous review that the show had some issues with style. Namely, there was too much of it. However, this season things were toned down a bit and I didn't notice the slow-mo, reverse shots, etc. and they certainly didn't interfere with the show like they did in season two. There are still a large number of establishing shots of Miami used as transitions, as well as numerous shots of women in swimsuits, but this too is toned down. I have nothing against women in swimsuits, but if the shots are too gratuitous, it becomes a distraction and not a selling point.

Now to the bad news. The special features continue to atrophy and there are only two featurettes on this four-disc set. The first is one the stunts and the second is on the ComicCon Panel. Both are worth checking out, but with a total running time of just 20 minutes, it's not enough.

The Verdict

I'm happy to report that Burn Notice: Season Three is just as good as Season Two, at least as far as the episodes go. The DVD is depressingly short on extras. It is still an easy recommendation. However, had it had a full compliment of extras (audio commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes, etc.) then it would have been Pick of the Week material.

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