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Fox Home Entertainment presents

Burn Notice: Season One (2007)

"Know what it's like being a spy? Like sitting in your dentist's reception area twenty-four hours a day. Read magazines, have coffee, and every so often, someone tries to kill you."- Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan)

Stars: Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell
Other Stars: Sharon Gless
Director: Paul Holahan, Jeremiah S. Chechik, John T. Kretchmer, Rod Hardy, Tim Matheson

MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 08h:52m:11s
Release Date: 2008-06-17
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+B+A C+


DVD Review

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is a government spy whose tenure is cut short while on assignment. Without warning he finds himself relocated to Miami to live out his days under the watchful eye of his former bosses. While attempting to uncover the reason behind his dismissal, Westen uses his extensive training to stay one step ahead of his peers while taking odd jobs around town to help others in need. Aided by an old friend and ex-spy Sam (Bruce Campbell) and IRA assassin and ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael aims to uncover the reason behind his burn notice.

Without a doubt, Burn Notice is the most fun Iíve had in front of the television in recent memory. Striking a careful balance between action and comedy, itís quick witted, suspenseful and endlessly enjoyable. The results is consistent over the course of Season Oneís 11 episodes; pure fun, and there isnít a stinker in the bunch.

This is a show where all of the elements gel to near-perfection. The writing is non-stop witty, so much so that the writers make you think it must be easy to script something so engaging. There may not be a tremendous amount of depth to the proceedings, but Westenís continued pursuit of the truth does propel the series forward and does make for an addicting premise.

Of course, itís a no-brainer that a well-written series is only as good as the cast chosen to bring it all to life. Jeffrey Donovan is immediately likeable and his droll narration adds to the joy; one of the most ironic of film noir voice overs imaginable.

Itís not just Donovan who knocks this series out of the park, either. Gabrielle Anwar adds considerable sex appeal and cuteness to the show as Fiona, Westenís former lover. Anwar has such an easy chemistry with Donovan that it goes beyond organic. We never even question the history of these characters. The smart scripting plays a role in this, but itís really the wonderful way in which these actors work off one another.

If this were any other series, Bruce Campbell would steal every scene heís in. With Burn Notice, however, heís just another potent cog in the ensemble machine. As Westenís friend Sam, Campbell has an obvious blast with his role. Sam is a scruffy layabout with a fierce sense of loyalty. His shared screen time with Donovan is among the brightest moments of every episode.

This is an easy show to recommend. While I wouldnít suggest missing an episode (itís just too damn good, why would you want to?), the overarching storyline develops slowly from week to week and missing a show here and there isnít going to knock anybody out of the loop. The majority of the weekly stories revolve around whatever odd job Westen has taken, and watching him use his spy training to outsmart the local criminal element may seem like overkillóbut it's also entertaining.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Filmed in an intentionally gritty manner, Fox's DVD presentation preserves the visual integrity of these episodes rather well. There's a lot of grain, but it's all a part of the camera. My only qualm with the transfers is that the image is occasionally very soft, so much so that it can be a jarring contrast with the otherwise fine presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 Dolby mix is a wholly engrossing experience. The bass comes alive during musical sequences, but the rear speakers are put to use even in the standard outdoor sequences. Action scenes and gun play are also rendered into this successful mix. Overall, a really good audio presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The trailer / promo for the USA network's upcoming second season of Burn Notice runs on discs 1 and 2.
11 Feature/Episode commentaries by Matt Nix, Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless
Packaging: Boxed Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag Reel (3:09)
  2. Girls Gone Burn Notice montage (2:20)
  3. Character Montage (1:30)
  4. Action Montage (2:43)
  5. Audition Footage (9:08)
Extras Review: Unfortunately the collection of supplements falls short. The episode commentaries are the most interesting thing going, but even they disappoint. The eleven tracks are scene specific only, and accessible from a special menu at the start of each episode. The conversations are fun and worthwhile, but end as soon as they get interesting.

Sadly, the rest of the stuff on the fourth disc is hardly worth mentioning. The montages, as you've probably guessed, are just pointless clips from the show. The gag reel is funny, but far too short at three minutes. The audition footage is interesting, but nothing too memorable.

Don't let this stop you from seeking this series out, however, as the quality of the show far outweighs the paltry collection of extras.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

The coolest piece of entertainment this summer might not be playing at a theater near you. Crank up the AC, grab your beverage of choice and kick back in your favorite chair for the breeziest, most enjoyable thing on television right now. You will be entertained.

Matt Serafini 2008-07-07