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THIRD DEGREE BURN,
This review is from: Burn Notice: Season Three (DVD)Season three of BURN NOTICE does much to forward the story of ex-spy Michael Westen's attempt to rejoin the spy world while at the same time rounding out the story of Michael Westen the human being. While that may not sound like much in a weekly action series that takes some doing. To do so with the perfect combination of action, humor and story is even tougher. But the people behind this series make it seem easy.
If you recall from the origin of the series, Westen was a super spy who was put on burn notice. A burn notice is when a spy gets left out in the cold or as he puts it in the voice over at the start of each episode "...when you're burned you've got nothing; no cash, no credit, no job history. You're stuck in whatever city they've decided to dump you in. You do whatever work comes your way." Fortunately for Westen he was left stuck in Miami.
And in Miami Westen was fortunate to have contacts like an ex-flame Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) who has an explosive temper to match her skills with weapons and bombs, a friend from his past and ex-Navy SEAL Sam (Bruce Campbell) who keeps him in touch with information and his mother Madeline (Sharon Gless) who, well, does all the things a worried mother would do. I mean what would have happened had they stuck him in a small Midwestern town?
Westen, played superbly by Jeffrey Donovan, has shown in two previous seasons that while killing was his living while going up against bad men around the world, he truly has a heart of gold. Each episode formed around two core stories, the first being about Michael attempting to find out who burned him and the second being a case where he had "clients" that he had to help with one problem or another. Season two put him in touch with a lead that could have led him to the person behind the burn. But that season ended with her being shot and "management" telling him they would stop protecting him.
Thus we start season three with Michael still stuck in Miami with the same crew. The only difference is that now the agency that prevented people from finding out he was alive and where he was located, have stopped all protection. This results in bad guys around the world coming in search of Michael while he continues trying to find a way back in as well as help a new client each episode.
A lead takes Michael into meeting with an agent of sorts who takes on former spies and uses them as mercenaries for various tasks. Once again Michael has the chance to find out who burned him and to get back in. But as we've seen all along, former love Fiona would be happier if he put his past in the past and focused on their future. But Michael is driven by a need to help, a need to serve his country and a need to find out who did this to him not just to get back in the game but to make sure the people he cares about are safe as well.
What makes this series work is the same thing that a number of series have begun to take seriously: the cast. When you have a cast that gels well together and that you can believe, it makes the difference. Think back to a series with a cast of 4 or more people that didn't work and you'll see what I mean. When it works the viewer cares about the characters and is willing to invest time to be with them each week. And while they shoot people and blow things up, these are characters you begin to care for.
Each actor does a job that unfortunately has gone unrecognized by awards programs thus far. Anwar is great as the sexy love interest whose emotions are much more revealed than her character would be in any other show. Gless does a great job as a worrying mother trying to make up for the past. Campbell takes his iron jawed, womanizing, best bud character and makes him the kind of guy you'd want to have a drink with. And Donovan as Westen is amazing.
Each week Westen is called on to turn himself into another cover, another person, to do the job he needs to do. Donovan in short plays not just Westen but Westen playing other people, be it mentally challenged individuals, terrified accountants, tough talking deal makers or cold blooded murderer. He does so with ease while making Westen's character seem like the most competent spy that ever existed.
Season three brings Michael closer to finding out who had him burned. It provides several stories that show the depth of character and truly caring person he really is. It offers plenty of action for fans. And it shows that Michael has more familial feelings than even he would care to admit. Season three has it all. The only thing missing that can fault this DVD offering is that season four isn't there and ready to go as well. It will start soon though and you have the choice of catching up and becoming a fan by renting/buying all three previous seasons before it begins or just jumping onboard now. No matter what, this is one series that deserves to be watched.
One bonus for TV fans in season three: the reunion of actresses Gless and Tyne Daly, the former stars of CAGNEY AND LACEY, together again in one episode. If you were a fan, you'll love seeing them together again.