Covert intelligence operative Michael Westen has been punched, kicked, choked and shot. Now he's being burned, and someone's going to pay! When Michael receives a "burn notice," blacklisting him from the intelligence community and compromising his very identity, he must track down a faceless nemesis without getting himself killed in the process. Meanwhile, Michael is forced to double as a private investigator on the dangerous streets of Miami in order to survive.
is a canny, clever comedy-thriller show about a covert operative with a heart of gold. Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is in the middle of a top-secret mission when he discovers he's been "burned"--basically, fired without warning. After barely extricating himself from danger, he wakes up in Miami, where the government has abandoned him and locked him out of his own bank account. To make ends meet, he takes on private detective jobs (helping an old lady who's fallen victim to a con artist; rescuing a young girl who's being tricked into white slavery; helping a mother whose son has been kidnapped by the boy's father... only it turns out the father is the rightful parent and the "mom" is an assassin sent to kill him--a nice guest star appearance by Lucy Lawless, Xena: Warrior Princess
), while trying to figure out who burned him and why. Westen tries to remain clinical in his approach to these problems, but he always ends up protecting the helpless with his sophisticated spy skills. Over the course of the first season, he gradually uncovers a mysterious conspiracy that plans to use his talents for their own nefarious ends. Burn Notice
deftly mixes the old and the new. The old: Our hero has a hot ex-girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar, Scent of a Woman
), a goofy sidekick (cult hero Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead movies), and a meddling mom (Sharon Gless, Cagney & Lacey
) who help and hinder him in his investigations, as well as a MacGyver
-esque skill for making deadly devices out of common household products. The new: A media-savvy way of deconstructing the tricks and techniques of spies and government agencies, often resulting in smart and highly entertaining plot twists. Donovan, handsome but cheeky, combines a light comic touch with a convincing secret agent cool, and the supporting cast fill their niches with aplomb. Their escapades are pretty breezy and occasionally skirt being glib, but most of the time the show finds an extremely entertaining balance between action, romance, and humor. The extras are few (some montages of characteristic moments from the series, including one of the many bikini-clad girls the Miami locale provides) and the commentaries, rather than covering entire episodes, just discuss a few select scenes from each show. Fortunately, the series itself holds up; imagine a cross between Magnum, P.I.
and The Wild Wild West
(the classic series, not the insulting Will Smith movie) and you're on the right track. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Burn Notice (Click for larger image)