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Reviews Comments: Season 1 and 2; Enjoyable fluff Burn Notice season review by Ethereal Mutation

Burn Notice is one of my favorite TV shows and coming from someone that finds most television pandering and shallow, it's quite a high compliment.

The best part of the show is its dedication to realism. While it no doubt stretches some details a bit in favor of the narrative, it has a genuine verisimilitude that most secret agent series lack. Much of this is reflected with the narration, pointing out many of the misconceptions the general public have about intelligence work and action in general. Some parts still seem dubious given much thought, but it's at least making a genuine effort towards realism.

In a sense, the show could be considered a spiritual successor of MacGyver. Michael Westin uses much of the same inductive reasoning and improvisational ability as the Richard Dean Anderson character. The key difference here is that Michael isn't a total boy scout and the show doesn't try to do any blatant social soapboxing. There are themes of morality and some episodes do portray the characters in a genuinely heroic light, but it's not afraid to paint them in shades of grey.

The characters have quite a bit more depth to them than one really expects. It could have been really easy for them to fall into stock archetypes, but quite a bit of thought was put into their personality and mannerisms with some real departure from expectation. These aren't people you've seen in any other genre work and they all work pretty well together.

My real point of contention is probably in the fact that it settles into formula from the start. Each episode outside of the season 2 finale centers around some private detective work at the bequest of a troubled victim. Con men, gangs, smuggling outfits, the works. Michael and friends infiltrate the criminal circle and undermine them from within. It starts to get a little tedious after a while and one finds themselves apathetic to their work, wanting them to just interact with each other instead of the criminals of the week. The main plot inches along at a glacial pace, but that's probably as much a compliment as it is a detriment. Certainly no unrealistic tempest of events within a notoriously slow field.

So, the big question: is this a show one would like? It's not a show for everybody, but then again, what good show really is? Take a gander and decide for yourself.


  • wellinever
  • 13th Oct 09
It definately has it's moments. Michael's dead-pan matter-of-fact commentary on the nature of explosive, weapons, identity theft and so on is pretty neat. I would disagree with you on the whole realism thing but it is good at acting like it's real. They give you enough facts about why little things work so your brain skips over the big things. The plot is essentially the same every week but once they get the burn notice lifted the show is over, isn't it?
  • 18th Jan 11
"In a sense, the show could be considered a spiritual successor of Mac Gyver"

I hear this comparison a lot, and, undeniably, there are similarities. But a much closer forebear is "Magnum, PI," both tonally and content-wise. Same setting (tropics), same job (or close to, both being freelance men of action), same history (former intelligence operatives), same immaturity (Michael is less man-boyish, but his unsettled life is a major theme), same relationship to supporting characters (bumming off them, expecting them to pitch their skills in whenever he needs them).

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