Once the briskest, breeziest caper show on television, USA’s Burn Notice has turned decidedly darker over its last few seasons, and its sixth and penultimate season takes the characters on by far their darkest journey yet. Pulse-pounding and exciting as always and still retaining that dry, sly sense of wit, Burn Notice offers a rollicking ride in its sixth season on the air.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480P/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 12 Hr. 54 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmray case with two disc leaves
Disc Type: DVD-9 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/11/2013
At the start of season six, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) has been brought back aboard the CIA but at a cost. His girl friend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) has turned herself in to the FBI to prevent them from investigating Michael’s activities in covert operations, and Fi spends the season’s first six episodes trying to ward off attacks of all kinds in prison while Michael executes several operations trying to earn enough good will to get her out. So, with Michael’s team one man down, it’s up to Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse Porter (Coby Bell) along with Michael’s CIA overseer Pearce (Lauren Stamile) to carry out various missions while Michael on his off time hunts down Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns) who had manipulated him into doing his dastardly deeds in season five. As always, Michael's mother Madeline (Sharon Gless), well meaning but often too meddlesome for her own good, figures into many of the plots and does actually serve as a valuable asset for the team on a couple of occasions this season.
The Production Rating: 4/5
The season breaks down basically into three sections (while continuing in most episodes to provide a caper for some members of the team to carry out): Michael’s stalking of Fullerton while trying to find ways to get Fi out of prison which ends with a tragedy involving a member of the recurring cast, Michael and company going rogue to bring the person responsible for the tragedy to justice, and the final third in which the hunters become the hunted as obsessed CIA agent Olivia Riley (Sonja Sohn) goes to any lengths necessary to bring down Michael and his crew. These plots provide, of course, ample opportunities for the kind of great stunts (including many high speed chases through the streets of Miami), enormous firepower, and deceptions that Burn Notice is famous for, and almost every episode seems burdened with a life and death struggle for one or more of the show’s protagonists. And despite the season’s much more serious tone, the episodes continue to feature one of the show’s most charming signature motifs: Michael’s voiceover narration offering a “Spy School for Dummies” running commentary on how to adapt undercover operative methodology to the everyday world.
Michael Westen is a career making role for actor Jeffrey Donovan, and he plays it for all it’s worth. He can be rough or gentle as the part calls for, and he pulls a range of nifty accents out of his dialect drawer that are fit for all occasions. Gabrielle Anwar gets the most out of demur-on-the-surface/tough-as-nails underneath gun happy girl friend Fiona while Bruce Campbell steals most of his scenes as the happy-go-lucky Sam, eager to engage in Michael’s schemes but just as content to kick back with a brew or mojito in hand. Coby Bell more and more provides a grounded centering for the rest of the characters that might not be as flashy as the other characters but certainly adds balance to the cast. Sharon Gless’ perpetually chain-smoking, teary-eyed mother is sometimes more an irritant than an asset with her whining, demanding ways, and Seth Peterson makes welcome recurring appearances as Michael’s ne’er-do-well younger brother Nate. Of this season’s primary guest stars, John C. McGinley as Michael’s longtime mentor Tom Card has some showcase moments. Kristanna Loken as another Anson victim Rebecca Lang and Kenny Johnson as sniper Tyler Gray make the most of their enemies-into-assets personas during the season. Patton Oswalt as a mover and shaker gets several spotlight episodes in the latter half of the season while the team is on the run, but his continual whining and chicanery is fun only to a point and then gets irritating. And Sonja Sohn is the embodiment of smug bureaucratic superiority as the driven agent Riley.
Here are the eighteen episodes spread over four DVDs that form the basis of season six’s drama:
1 – Scorched Earth
2 – Mixed Messages
3 – Last Rites
4 – Under the Gun
5 – Split Decision
6 – Shock Wave
7 – Reunion
8 – Unchained
9 – Official Business
10 – Desperate Times
11 – Desperate Measures
12 – Means & Ends
13 – Over the Line
14 – Down & Out
15 – Best Laid Plans
16 – Odd Man Out
17 – You Can Run…
18 – Game Change
The episodes are presented in their widescreen television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Because the show changed its filming methods some seasons ago, the hot, soft focused photography is a thing of the past. These transfers feature nicely sharp and clear images with color under control and with accurate (though very tan; it does shoot in Miami) flesh tones. Even with anamorphic enhancement, there are aliasing and moiré artifacts in most of the stock footage flyovers used between scenes and in other location shooting. Black levels are excellent, however, as is shadow detail. Each episode has been divided into 12 chapters.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is one of the most active on television. With the show’s many explosions and frequent gunplay, the LFE channel gets a solid workout during most episodes, and there are split effects and panning through the soundstage on occasion along with its driving music score which offer a movie-like sound design that’s very appealing. Dialogue is always superbly recorded and has been rooted to the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Audio Commentary: series creator Matt Mix, director Renny Harlin, and stars Jeffrey Donovan and Bruce Campbell take part in a lively give and take during “Shock Wave,” the season’s most pivotal episode.
Special Features Rating: 2.5/5
Deleted Scenes: five episodes offer deleted scenes all presented in non-anamorphic letterbox: “Last Rites” (1:20 for two scenes), “Means & Ends” (0:40), “Over the Line” (0:31), “Best Laid Plans” (0:47), “You Can Run” (0:27).
Gag Reel (3:24, non-anamorphic letterbox)
Matt Nix Gets Burned (6:27, non-anamorphic letterbox): behind-the-scenes spoof of the director making mistakes shooting the season finale.
Promo Trailers: Fox-produced comedies, Fox-produced dramas, Homeland.
Burn Notice may be ending after season seven, but season six shows no signs of a slowdown. The show is as fast-paced, exciting, and clever as it has always been but with a considerably darker tone and mood now that provides plenty of edge-of-your-seat excitement. Recommended!
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: