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You Should Watch… Burn Notice

You Should Watch… Burn Notice


Burn Notice was a TV show that lasted seven seasons on the USA Network. Created by Matt Nix, the series ran from 2007 to 2013 where it was all wrapped up in an acceptable manner. Considering some shows never get a true conclusion or leave the viewer unsatisfied, Burn Notice was allowed to properly tie up loose ends.

What’s it about?

Burn Notice is a show about a CIA spy named Michael Westen who ends up with a burn notice while on a mission that is not necessarily sanctioned. A burn notice is an official statement issued by an intelligence agency to other agencies. It states that an asset or intelligence source is unreliable for one or more reasons, often fabrication. This is essentially a directive for the recipient to disregard or “burn” all information derived from that individual or group.

After being shipped to Miami and stripped of all assets, Michael begins to try to figure out why he got burned and who burned him. He is reunited with an ex-girlfriend, Fiona or Fi, who seems to have as shady a past as he does. Michael does not like being in Miami, as it makes him susceptible to having to deal with his Mom. He is also helped by a friend, Sam Axe, who is playing a dual role of friend and informant to the F.B.I.

There is an over arcing story to each season, and the show in general centers around Michael finding out who burned him and why. On an episode to episode basis, however, the team of Michael, Fi and Sam work to help solve problems of those in need, those who may be down on their luck. Michael’s mother, Madeline, tends to play a role in some of these capers that Michael and his team get involved in. As the series continued, another regular member of the team came along in Season 4. Jesse was another burned spy who knew about Michael and needed his help. Jesse became a big part of the team going forward to the end of the series.

Between Season 4 and 5, there was a TV movie made that showed how Sam Axe became the retired ex Navy Seal that he is in the show. The TV movie was called The Fall of Sam Axe and gives a much better insight into what drives the best friend of Michael Westen.

Who’s in it?

The cast of Burn Notice is phenomenal and begins with the lead, Jeffrey Donovan who plays the burned spy Michael Westen. His presence on-screen can be likened to that of Richard Dean Anderson in the MacGyver series. Michael was one of the best CIA agents until he was burned. He is now putting those skills to use to help those in need, all the while trying to find out who burned him. He explains how a spy might operate throughout the show, as it pertains to the mission at hand.

The role of Fiona, or Fi, is brought to life by British actor Gabrielle Anwar who took some flack for her poor attempt at an Irish accent in the pilot episode. Getting past that episode is key, because they do drop the accent for episode two, and it only resurfaces in flashback scenes further down the line. The character of Fi is supposed to be a former member of the I.R.A. which is why the accent was used initially. Fiona loves guns, and blowing shit up… C4 is her best friend.

The final key character of Sam Axe is brilliantly performed by the ‘man with the chin’, Bruce Campbell. The inclusion of Bruce Campbell was perfect for this drama, as he obviously brought the funny, but he also can handle himself in the fight sequences as well. Portraying a former US Navy Seal and fond of the code name of Chuck Finley, Sam Axe is a mojito loving man with a sugar mama.

As for the remainder of the cast; Sharon Gless of Cagney & Lacey fame played Michael’s mother Madeline. Former Third Watch star, Coby Bell joined the regular series cast in Season 4 as another burned spy named Jesse Porter. The best recurring character, Barry, was portrayed by the very entertaining Paul Tei.

Why should you watch?

Burn Notice is one of those shows that really has a great over arcing story for each season, and in essence, the whole series. Each week the show advances the main story just a little bit, all the while giving the viewer a wonderful single stand-alone story. While at times it does have that ‘villain of the week’ feel about it, the main cast really brings it all together in a wonderful way. The on-screen chemistry of the cast is very welcoming and even becomes as much of the show as the story.

The wonderful story telling, beautiful setting and the chemistry of the cast, brings a whole new look to the spy genre. This is, after all, a show about a spy who is trying to use his skills, and his friends skills, to help those who truly need it. From the blueberry yogurt loving Michael, to his chain-smoking mother Madeline and all the characters in between, it is hard not to enjoy this show. It successfully combines elements of The A-TeamMacGyver and wonderful writing to make the show as enjoyable as possible.

Closing Thoughts

Everyone is introduced to a show differently: A friend’s recommendation; a preview on TV; a favourite actor joins the cast; whatever the reason, this is one show you should really consider checking out. This could be your way of finding a wonderful show that you may have originally missed or gave a pass on. The show is truly one of the best shows to enjoy not just once, but after a year, could easily be re-watched and enjoyed just as much. So if you’re looking for show to binge watch during the summer while you await the new fall line-up, give Burn Notice a chance.