New on DVD
'Burn Notice: Season 1'
USA's sunny, summery favorite hits DVD with commentary tracks and a bikini-reel
As unceremoniously unemployed intelligent operative Michael Wesson and his IRA-trained ex-girlfriend Fiona, Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar are one of TV's best-looking duos, while Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless provide capable support along with a rotating cadre of guest villains and damsels-in-distress. The first season of "Burn Notice," on DVD Tuesday (June 17) in anticipation of the next round of new episodes, isn't anything more than bubble gum, but given its thin premise -- Mike's stuck in Miami trying to find out who burned him and why -- it keeps its flavor far longer than one might expect.
Watched in a large burst -- say, 11 episodes in a week -- and "Burn Notice" remains diverting, but it also becomes a bit repetitive. There are only so many times you can watch somebody take apart a cheap cell phone, bug a car or mix up low-grade explosives in the kitchen and the show's main character seems to do all three in every single episode. Also, the integration of the show's procedural aspects -- usually simple cases requiring complicated undercover hijinx -- and the ongoing serial aspects -- Mike only seems to gain new info in the last five minutes of every episode -- is pretty shoddy.
DVD Bonus Features:
The Good: "Burn Notice" isn't a spectacularly deep or complicated show, but Donovan, Anwar, Campbell, Gless and creator Matt Nix take the time to do scene-specific commentary on every single episode under the menu heading "Get Burned." More involved episodes have commentary on eight or nine scenes, while some of the episodes in the middle only have three or four scenes. Campbell's legion of fans won't be surprised to know that his insights are the funniest and smartest, though he usually takes a back seat to the rest of the gang in the booth. At their best, the comments cover the interesting aspects of shooting on location and working off a relatively small budget. At their worst, the cast members just laugh at how funny they are, leaving viewers on the outside.
The Bad: The last disc in the four-disc set contains only one episode, the two-hour finale, so it also includes a series of mostly banal little featurettes, mostly hastily assembled montages of different familiar aspects of the show. There's a character montage, an assortment of action scenes and a by-the-numbers gag reel. For many viewers, the highlight will be the "Girls Gone 'Burn Notice'" featurette, a two-minute rush of bikinis and short skirts. Thrown together in a rush, they make a cohesive argument that "Burn Notice" may be the "Baywatch" of its generation. The package also includes Donovan and Anwar's audition reels. Straight forward behind-the-scenes featurettes are usually dull, but "Burn Notice" suffers from the absence of that kind of basic doc.
The Price: $49.98