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Customer Review

244 of 250 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A spy is just a criminal with a government paycheck.", March 22, 2008
This review is from: Burn Notice: Season 1 (DVD)
Michael Westen: "Most people would be thrilled to be dumped in Miami. Sadly, I am not most people...I've never found a good way to hide a gun in a bathing suit."

When you're a spy, getting a burn notice means that you've been officially deemed unreliable by your covert brethren, and that you're no longer wanted in the cloak-and-dagger community. Always good at rubbing people the wrong way, international spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan, TOUCHING EVIL) is in Nigeria brokering a deal with a terrorist when he learns of his burn notice over a cell phone. Barely skedaddling out of Nigeria with his life, Michael somehow finds himself stranded in his hometown of Miami, with his finances frozen, his options about nil, and former friends and colleagues keeping far, far away.

Michael decides to lay low for a while and, because a man has just got to make a living somehow, becomes a makeshift private investigator and troubleshooter. But, even as he takes on the criminal elements in Miami, his overriding objective remains finding out why he was blacklisted. But it's hard going as, mysteriously, no one will tell him anything. Meanwhile, various spooks are monitoring his every move. So, something's going on...

Yup, I dig this show. The USA Network's BURN NOTICE proved to be one of the more pleasant surprises of 2007. Not having seen a lot of Jeffrey Donovan's work, I'm still quickly becoming a fan. He brings a wry, deadpan charm to the show, and he looks like there's stuff just churning underneath his character's self-contained exterior. And it's exactly because of this distant persona that I appreciate Michael Westen providing a very quotable, "been there, done that" voice-over narration. This device not only engages us further but also makes us privy to Westen's cynical inner musings, as well as giving us frequently amusing first hand advice on various stuff. No, it's not exactly life lessons that he's imparting. Rather, it's more of a tutorial on espionage and breaking heads. Y'know, the cool stuff. For example, Westen, on fighting: "You don't want to break the little bones in your hands, so you look for a bathroom, which has plenty of hard edges and surfaces." On guns: "Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duck tape makes you smart." Or on setting traps: "A good trap doesn't scare people, it makes them curious." And, so on and et cetera. Dude's often wry observations make my day. Someone should put together a quotation book, because I'd shell out.

Chemistry rears its beautiful head. Donovan's supporting cast is very good, and two of them are very engaging. Westen's tiny circle of trust consists of three folks. There's his sexy and fiery Irish ex-girlfriend Fiona (gorgeous Brit, Gabrielle Anwar). Fi is an ex-IRA agent and into mayhem and violence, and, of her, Westen unequivocably states, "I am NOT hooking up with her. I need her for tactical support." (sure, sure). Slovenly Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell, who's casually let himself go) is Westen's long-time buddy and a semi-retired spy. Now Sam helps Westen out on cases, and vice versa. And then there's Westen's irritating dragon of a mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless, CAGNEY & LACEY), who is a champion emotional blackmailer. Gless is effective at channeling Doris Roberts from EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. So if you're hating on Gless's character, then she's just being brilliant.

BURN NOTICE, with its first season's 12 episodes, brings it with suspense and some action, and with humor and a rocky romance, even if I could do without the fractured family stuff. It's a well-done lighthearted spy & crime drama, with an element of the sting, and it left me craving for more episodes. Jeffrey Donovan might just have found his breakout role in the glib and uber capable but emotionally detached Michael Westen. Certainly, he makes for a compelling character. I enjoy how he uses his Special Ops training to satisfyingly one-up Miami's teeming lowlifes. And, all along, there's slow progress being made on the whole burn notice arc. The writing is smart, the production values are terrific. And it doesn't hurt that BURN NOTICE is filmed in sun-drenched, visually arresting Miami, so give the show some style points. I definitely don't have anything against babes and bikinis and margaritas and martinis.

Michael Westen, who dislikes his hometown, might beg to differ, but, hey, bienvenido a Miami. And bring on Season 2.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 29, 2008 7:16:57 AM PDT
C. A. Luster says:
Excellent review. If I hadn't already loved the series I would definitely want to watch it after reading your review.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2008 7:19:50 PM PDT
H. Bala says:
Thank you very much.

Posted on May 1, 2008 12:37:32 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 1, 2008 12:48:32 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 12, 2008 9:45:01 AM PDT
Anthony says:
Nice review. Convinced me to netflix this when it comes out.

Posted on Sep 29, 2008 4:39:48 PM PDT
Spot on. That's why I'm purchasing the DVD.

Posted on Oct 6, 2008 10:06:04 PM PDT
The Mandrew says:
Wow, well said. This is one of the better reviews I've read, independent of the fact that I love the show. :-)

Posted on Jan 21, 2009 1:47:35 PM PST
Origional enough to be compelling. Makes you want to see what is going to happen next, the characters are interesting enough to make you care about them. Enough of all the needed essentials; action, sexy girls, mystery, sexy girls. :) Looking forward to the new episode tonight. But I will collect the seasons via

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 8:48:53 AM PST
YW says:
Wow! What a review! Are you TV critic or something?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2009 2:50:17 PM PST
H. Bala says:
Nah, just someone who really likes this show. Thanks for the comment :)

Posted on Jan 29, 2010 10:55:51 AM PST
Randy says:
As the others have said, great review! You have covinced me!
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Review Details



H. Bala

Location: Recently moved back to Carson, California, or as I call it... the center of the universe

Top Reviewer Ranking: 197