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VINE VOICEon May 1, 2012
This latest season of BURN NOTICE, one of the best TV shows on the air right now, was decidedly different in tone if not in execution as Michael Westen, Fiona Glennanne, Sam Axe and Jesse Porter face a much more insidious threat than they have before on this show, and this show has seen plenty of threats.

We begin with Michael being embraced once again by the CIA, under the purview of his old handler Raines (the always great, but sadly under-used Dylan Baker) and while he's in a probationary period, he's putting all of his old skills to work with his new partner Max (Grant Snow) and has a new case officer, the sharp and attractive Agent Pearce (Lauren Stamile). He's living in something resembling bliss also, with Fiona moved into his loft, desperately trying to make the place more hospitable. Sam is back down to his "fighting weight", as we saw in the tie-in TV movie THE FALL OF SAM AXE, and Jesse has a flashy job with an independent, high-profile security contractor. Madeline is also dating!

The first few episodes of the season deal mostly with Michael sliding comfortably back into working as a spy again, bantering with his pals, becoming somewhat domesticated by Fi, and outwitting the bad guys. Things turn for the worse with a shocking death that Michael is intended to be framed for, and our heroes scramble to track down the real killer, while keeping the intrepid Agent Pearce off their backs. This leads once again to another showdown with Dead Larry (the sleazy and great Tim Matheson in his recurring guest role) who is forcing Michael again to do something dangerous and traitorious (like stealing secrets from a foreign embassy), as they race to save the life of an innocent woman who is engaged to a psychiatrist named Anson (the GREAT Jere Burns) who has been kidnapped by Larry. As we find out shortly, Anson's fiance is already dead and when Fi tries to save Michael using small amounts of explosives (and as an ancillary bonus, get Larry out of their lives forever), the detonation seems to cause greater damage than anticipated and kills the small unit of innocent security guards in the building. Fi is utterly shocked and haunted by this; especially since she's never wrong about the explosives she uses. As guilt begins to bear down on Fi and the rest of the team, it is revealed that Anson is actually the man behind all of this. Anson is the LAST one of the group that burned Michael; he was the one who had Michael framed for a fellow agent's death, and he set charges in the embassy killing those guards to frame Fi, and unless Michael uses his regained CIA security to help Anson achieve his goals, he will release the evidence that will link Fi to the deadly explosion. The questions then become: How far will Anson make Michael go, and how can Michael defeat him when he proves time and again that he holds all the cards? Also, can Fiona live with Michael doing these things to protect her?

As you can probably tell from that summation, this is a considerably darker tone than any previous season has taken. While Michael may deal with psychopaths and international assassins and shadowy cabals on a weekly basis, never has a threat emerged in a more frightening and more immediate fashion as Anson. Being a psychiatrist, Anson is able to probe deeply into Michael's mind, shaking his faith in himself, and is also able to predict Michael's moves before he does them. That element of prediction is brought into shocking relief when it comes out that Madeline's boyfriend has been spying on Michael at Anson's behest. Even more shocking than that are certain truths about Michael's father.

While the primary cast members continue to work extremely well together, the biggest coup of the season is Jere Burns as Anson. He plays this part to perfection, and what's fun about him is his willingness to be in physical danger when he confronts Michael. Burns is not in any way a physically intimidating actor and he uses that as a strength during his scenes with Michael and the gang. Anson isn't afraid of Michael because Michael knows that the danger that Anson can put the people he cares about in.

As far as our primary players, Jesse is more or less persona non grata in this season, which is actually something I consider to be something of an asset. It's nothing against the character or against Coby Bell as an actor; I just don't find Jesse to be a truly necessary part of the team that showrunner Matt Nix has crafted over these five seasons to be three of the most unique and consistently entertaining characters on television. Jesse seemed to be shoe-horned in when he was introduced as kind of a sequel to Michael Westen, and his absences during this season certainly were not glaring. In the episodes he's in during this season, he plays usually a small but integral role, and that's how it should stay. Jeffrey Donovan gets to play things not quite so close to the vest this season and he really pulls off a difficult job of having to be less of the gang's stoic anchor and man of action, and it gives way to frustration, paranoia and fear. Gabrielle Anwar is still incredibly appealing and flirty and sexy (although I do think she should have a burger every now and then) and she's also dangerous as ever, but her more constant interaction with Michael does start to show and gives her character more dimensions to play at. BRUCE CAMPBELL IS SAM AXE. That's all you need to know about him. He's possibly the one person you would want backing you up for all of eternity. And most importantly, I think it's a sin that Sharon Gless hasn't been nominated for awards for every single season. Her performance and her character are the emotional core of this show, and if that goes, the whole show becomes something less, and the great thing that Nix is doing is giving Madeline more to do, which means Gless has more screen-time and we have more time to bask in the greatness of her character and her performance.

For all of the seasons of this show, I always felt that if the show got too dark, it would start to lose much of what makes the show such a breezy and effortlessly entertaining hour. This season of the show shows it at its darkest yet, and it does go to places that you wouldn't have expected it to go, but with the show's major arc (Who burned Michael and why?) inevitably coming to a close, things do get darkest before the dawn. I still think this show has a few seasons left in it, and I'm sure that Matt Nix will keep things moving and maybe allow our heroes to have things be a little easier. This season, however; they have it harder than ever before, and considering the events of the season finale, it might get harder and darker still.
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on December 29, 2011
I am a huge fan of this show, but I don't completly agree with the other reviewers about how great the last season was. It was still very good, just not like it has been in the past. The only real standout in this season was Gabrielle Anwar's Fiona. You were able to see new depth to her character that you hadn't before. In past seasons she was always willing to do whatever it took to help their clients, but the show never explored her as a person. This season we were better able to see what she was willing to sacrifice for the greater good of those whe loved, even if it was her freedom. This was a big turnaround for someone who I always thought was a little selfish and narrow minded. Like I said she was always willing to do whatever it takes, but usually in her own terms. She relentlessly pursued her relationship with Michael, but she would always threaten to walk away if he did something she didn't like. While the changes in Fiona were good, I did not always like the changes in Michael. Too many times this season, he went too far, and sometimes it looked like the othere could never pull him back. I think the she runners were trying to show us what he was like pre burn notice now that he was back with the CIA, but I still did not like the changes. These things I could have forgiven and still given the season 4 stars, but the worst part was the shows under utilization of Bruce Campbell. I felt that Sam spent most of the season in background. I think that he is one of the best parts of the show, and I hate that he was only used for occasional comic relief. All in all, I still love burn notice, and faithfully await the next season.
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on December 23, 2011
I had been getting a bit tired of Burn Notice. It was becoming too obviously formulaic and the antagonists were getting sillier and sillier. Each season the people Michael's team was fighting against became ever more powerful - they could circumscribe world governments and they became less and less believable as time went on. What new super power of evil would the team be fighting against next, I asked myself after Season Four - the Devil? I stopped buying the DVDs after Season Two - But. I can't wait for Season Five to become available. The creation of Anson as the antagonist is inspired. He really could qualify as the Devil; he is so believable that it is chilling. He has tied the previous four season together as we get glimpses into Michael's past. The use of a highly intelligent, skilled psychologist as Michael's foe, bringing the evil back to one man, makes the series believable again.

If you think of Anson as Archangel Lucifer and Michael as Archangel Michael - the two ultimate warrior foes - we could be set for an heroic battle in the next season. I can hardly wait for next summer.
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on August 25, 2012
What changed this season? A new producer? Something? I watched seasons 1-4 in preperation for season 5, and was immediately struck by jerky, badly cut filming during scenes, stiff character postures, terrible dialogue and a wooden serious atmosphere. I felt like characters had turned into charicatures of themselves, trying too hard, acting over the top, ect. Example: Fiona had turned into a girly girl more concerned with her hair, clothes and vacation spot than anything worth while. She's always been a fashion minded, at times femanine woman, and I find no fault with that, because she always had an edge and a strong attitude, a strong person.

Scenes were rushes, clipped and jumped from face shot to face shot on who ever was talking. I didn't see any of the nuances that I had come to enjoy with Burn notice, the facial expressions and subtle tones of voice that conveyed more than words alone could. I went online to see if I could figure out what, if anything has changed, but in the end it doesn't really matter I suppose. Overall, I am very disappointed in Season 5 so far.

Okay, so the season has gotten a little better as it has gone on, or maybe I've gotten used to the "different" prsentation. I'm feeling a little more invested in the plot and I'm feeling more interested in the characters. The narration has also improved (those times when there is a few seconds of freeze frame and Michael gives us a bit of explination or insight into spying and such which were one of the best points I felt). I've upded my review by one star.
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on January 28, 2013
We loved seasons 1 and 2...season 3 was ok but we kept waiting for it to get back to the quality of 1 & 2, season 4 we were starting to get really skeptical and were eager for them to put the pieces all back together in season 5, but no such luck. It' still entertaining, (although the acting is really falling off--probably because the writing has become just plain awful) but we are officially done with the show after this season (and reading reviews that say season 6 continues on the slide downhill). It's such a shame... the writing in the beginning was so fun and cohesive, but at this point the characters are doing things that are not consistent with their character, some of the fun plot lines are gone, and the character of Michael is not fun to watch anymore at all... I didn't think it would be possible to not like his character anymore, but he's turned into a total jerk and we were actually rooting for the rest of the gang to move on and leave him behind. The writing seems like it's been handed off to a group of high schoolers to finish--like they don't understand the character and don't have the insight to understand what made the show enjoyable to watch. Too bad, because it was SUCH a fun show during the first 2, maybe 3 seasons.
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on July 9, 2012
I enjoy action stories if they are clever with a semblance of logic. Stories based upon problems created to generate special effects or which postulate a situation that proceeds in a direction not endemic to the character or based upon a faulty premise I believe are the result of lazy writers. Many of the sub-plots are interesting enough to rate the three stars, but the conclusion spoils the whole show for me. This season of Burn Notice had the potential to end the ongoing soap opera plotting of the mysterious and omnipotent overlords preventing Michael from realizing his true calling and bring a fresh set of circumstances to the story, but the writers decided instead to focus on a single entity as the personal antagonist instead of a nebulous group with ties to everything. Frankly, this ending was needless and poorly plotted and with such a weak premise I expect the next season to be as lame. Given the known and assumed history of Michael, a single opponent in easy grasp could have been handled any number of ways such as drugging, legal entrapment, setting another opponent against Anson, or just getting a video confession with various tools, but instead we are left with a weak and unbelievable "hero".

Fiona as a character becomes more developed, while Sam Axe and Jessie become two-dimensional. Again, the stories are tending towards comic book while Michael loses his integrity and the trust of the viewers. If the writers cannot summon any more creativity, they should end the series and start something new.
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on January 17, 2013
We don't watch much tv, but we loved Burn Notice and watched all of the first 4 seasons on Netflix. We thought that was the end - when Michael was invited back to the CIA - and were thrilled to find out there was a 5th season. The main attraction of this show, in my opinion, is the relationship among the main characters - they remind me of the mod squad. We can put up with Sam's ridiculous beard and Mom's occasional bad hair days, but Michael Weston has to look good, and his hair was just too bad to put up with. A pity. We probably won't even finish the season.
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on August 6, 2011
Best show to come a long ever! It is more realistic and believable. Fiona and Michael need a little more romance. Best of all,it is interesting enough for both men and women to enjoy together. Being Irish born,I can relate to them. We started watching it because there was nothing better on. And boy were we glad there was nothing better on. It has become our number one show,the only one we hate to miss. I can't wait to see the next episode. A big thank you to the writers and especially the actors who do an awesome job. Your fan sewma
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on March 23, 2016
It pains me to give Season 5 of Burn Notice only 3 stars but that's how it looks to me. The first three seasons were impressive, original, and entertaining. The show runners took a risk bringing in another character with Jesse Porter in Season 4 and upsetting the dynamic of the team but it worked out OK. This season finds Michael with a foot back in the door of the CIA and with a new female agent handler who is pretty annoying. Jesse is no longer working for the feds and has a gig with a private security company that apparently has pretty liberal policies with how employees spend their time. We are also treated to more of Michael's mother Madeline and her getting improbably involved in more of the capers which was already overdone after season 4. My problem with the show is that it's too much with the uber villain who has the goods on Michael and can manipulate him to do their bidding. Burn Notice is at it's best when it's Michael and the team helping a "client" out of a jam. All of the contrived drama with these super villains becomes fatiguing and become a distraction from what made the show great. This go round yet another guy who was part of the cabal that burned Michael comes out of the woodwork and sets up Fiona for blackmail in order to control our hero. Hopefully things improve in the 6th outing but given we end with Fiona surrendering to the Feds and likely going to prison I'm not optimistic.
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on December 7, 2012
I still love the characters and their relationships, but the increasingly complex storylines involving Michael's shadowy nemisis just detracts from the real strengths of the series -- the relationships of the main characters, and the clever weekly adventures to help the helpless. I hope they dial it back this season (although that is not shaping up to be the case), or I will just continue to lose interest. Still, some of the episodes in Season Five are pretty good.
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