Thursday, June 19, 2008

BURN NOTICE - SEASON 1

I've been looking forward to seeing the USA Network series BURN NOTICE (2008) since I first heard about it. Aside from the fact that it was ostensibly a spy show, it co-starred Bruce Campbell of EVIL DEAD and BUBBA-HO-TEP fame. But, I don't have cable, and had to wait for the series to come out on DVD.

Well, the first season (a paltry eleven episodes!) is now available on digital disc, and I persuaded the wife, on the basis of our shared enthusiasm for Campbell, to let me pick it up.

Jeffery Donovan (BLAIR WITCH: BOOK OF SHADOWS) plays secret agent Michael Westen who – while in the middle of a sensitive mission in Nigeria – finds himself suddenly cut loose by his employers – "burned." He soon finds himself dumped in Miami with no job, lots of enemies, all of his assets frozen and no idea why he was burned, nor who's responsible. With very few other options, he finds himself taking on odd jobs for people that need help, jobs where he can employ his years of espionage tradecraft and combat training. With the help of trigger-happy former flame (and ex-IRA terrorist) Fiona (played by the always lovely Gabrielle Anwar (BODY SNATCHERS, IF LOOKS COULD KILL), who looks particularly hot now that's she's got some maturity on her) and a burnt-out, boozing ex-agent (Campbell), Westen ekes out a living helping the helpless while trying to uncover the person behind having him burned, and why it was done.

It's kind of a hipper, younger take on the old 80s show THE EQUALIZER, but instead of a middle-aged ex-spy and gritty New York locale, you've got a hunky ex-spy and lots of sunbathed Miami vistas.

And girls in bikinis.

The stories are okay, but the dialogue – and Westen's voice-overs – really shine. The writing is smart, sarcastic and funny. The action is well-staged, and the stories move along briskly. It's good stuff.

The 20th Century Fox DVD set is fine with the eleven episodes on four discs, packed into 2 double slimcases. The shows are presented in solid, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers and 5.1 Dolby Surround. Picture quality is quite nice, considering that the show is shot on 16mm film ( a rarity these days), sound is strong, and there are a few decent bonus features. There are a couple of lame ones, too, but that's the way it goes. These include scene-specific commentary for each episode by the cast and creators, a gag reel, Donovan and Anwar's audition tapes, and several themed "montages" of clips from the show.

I guess the second season is or will be airing this Summer on USA. If you've got cable, it's worth checking out. Recommended.

BUY: Burn Notice - Season One