Burn Notice – Complete Series

Burn NoticeI spent parts of the last several weekends binge-watching (from the library’s DVDs) Burn Notice.

Here’s what I thought of the seven-season series:

  • Interesting premise – an extremely talented CIA covert operative is outted – i.e. “burned” – and is left with nothing. He moves (is dumped) back to his home town (Miami) and has to start over. With the help of an old girlfriend and male friend – both highly experienced operatives themselves – they help other people using their unique skills.
  • While each episode concentrates on the trio (later adding another operative) helping a specific “client,” there is also an overall arc of the main character (Jeffrey Donovan) trying to find out who burned him. This arc is replaced by other similar arcs in later seasons, but is always there. As the seasons progressed, it became more about the “arc” – the hunt for the bigshot bad guy(s) ruining Donovan’s life – than the per-episode client. I found that less interesting than the clients.
  • Overall, the acting from the main characters is pretty terrible. (The exception is Sharon Gless – of Cagney & Lacey who plays Donovan’s chain-smoking mother.) I don’t know if it’s the director’s fault – because I’ve seen Donovan in other shows (Touching Evil, Monk) where he was good – or how their characters are supposed to act. But that acting is very wooden. The worst is Donovan’s friend, and ex-Navy Seal Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell): It’s like he’s just reciting his lines.
  • There are some good recurring characters that do a great job of convincing you they aren’t just mouthing lines, notable the money-laundering friend, Barry (Paul Tei) and the CIA Agent Pearce (Lauren Stamile). I don’t know why they wrote the latter out of the show; she was good and it was fun that she never had a first name – just Agent Pearce.
  • A very MacGyver-like show – they are always inprovising explosive devices and what-not. The series tab on duct tape alone must have run into six figures…
  • Like explosions? Especially cars blowing up? This is your series! Also a lot of car chases, cars rolling over, cars colliding… Oh – and lots (lots!) of gun battles.
  • It was very weird that Donovan’s brother, Nate (Seth Peterson), floated in and out of the show as needed. Then he got married, we saw the wife once, then he had a kid, got divorced. Just…odd.
  • They did do some tongue-in-cheek things on the show – just quick things that they didn’t dwell on that were fun. For example, Donovan’s character ate a lot of yogurt – blueberry. And they’d introduce a character with Donovan doing a voice-over saying this character was a scumbag – and then they’d show the character, and have a caption on the screen, saying something like “Carlos – druglord scumbag.”
  • Overall, I don’t think I’d watch this again. If I did, it would only be the first couple of seasons. Less arc, more on the individual clients. On IMDB, ths show is given an overall rating of 8.0; I’d say it was closer to 6-7. Above average, but nothing special. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 94% overall rating, which is just plain wrong.
  • The last four or five minutes of the last episode were a very nice wrap-up. Well done, there.