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Blu-Ray : Good Show, Bad Discs
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Release Date: June 16th, 2009 Movie Release Year: 2008

Burn Notice: Season Two

Overview -

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.

Good Show, Bad Discs
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Three-Disc Set
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround
Spanish Subtitles
Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Release Date:
June 16th, 2009

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Let's skip the formalities of recapping the story. Anyone interested in the second season of Burn Notice must have seen season one. They're fans of Michael Westen's (Jeffrey Donovan) MacGyver-like way of getting through tough situations. Michael has been burned by the US government. The first season he spent looking for who it was that burned him. At the end of the season we were left with Michael driving a SUV into the back of a semi-trailer with the promise of finding the culprit behind his recent predicament. Fade to black.

The second season opens with Michael still in the back of that mysterious semi with only one thing on his mind, confronting the people who destroyed his reputation.

In the first season Michael helped people with tricky problems, the kind only an ex-spy could handle. He's got a cool, calculating demeanor, but with a heart of gold. He assists anyone he can, while narrating the best ways to stop criminals, blow up doors, and make fake identities work.

Michael's partners Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) and Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar) are back helping him with the different jobs he's contracted to do. He does all of this while taking care of his paranoid mother (Sharon Gless) and his screw-up of a brother (Seth Petersen).

Burn Notice continues with the same charm in the second season that made its debut season so much fun. It has a perfect mix of intrigue and clever humor. Michael's personal narration about how to get things done efficiently as a spy is sometimes hilarious, while perfectly crafted to seem quite plausible.

Every character in this show is perfect. The writing is witty, and the acting is engaging. I've been a fan since day one. The second season packs the same wallop as the first. Every episode we feel that Michael is getting closer and closer to the people who burned him, while still helping people in the meantime.

Video Review


Man, is this disappointing to say, but the second season of Burn Notice is one of the most problem filled Blu-ray presentations I have ever seen. As a fan of the show I desperately wanted a fantastic HD look, but instead, this 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer fails on almost all fronts.

Arguments can be made that the sheen of grain visible in every shot, except the Miami fly-over shots, is an artistic decision. While that may be true, it's still extremely distracting. At some points the grain is completely overwhelming, especially in the first episode when Michael goes to talk to his mom at her house.

If the grain were the only problem with this presentation it might still receive a higher rating, but Burn Notice Season 2 is plagued with all sorts of technical problems, ranging from aliasing to noticeable edge enhancement. White source noise blips pop up so frequently you'll feel you're watching an old movie reel in the theater. I couldn't believe how much noise there was. Completely inexcusable for an HD presentation.

Burn Notice is filmed almost entirely in Miami and its surrounding areas, but the colors all seem way off. Skin tones really suffer. People's skin appears washed out, and the colors of Miami are completely oversaturated. Whenever there's an explosion, the fireballs are a messy blend of reds, whites, and oranges. Explosions are also victims of some pretty noticeable macro-blocking artifacts. Compare this to another Miami based TV show, Dexter. Dexter captures the colors of South Florida perfectly. Dexter's transfers have been nothing short of amazing, Burn Notice pales in comparison.

This truly is the saddest I've ever been about a Blu-ray presentation. One of my favorite shows on TV looks just dreadful on Blu-ray. That's something to be sad about, and I don't think I'll be the only one. I don't know what to attribute all of these technical faults to, but I'll say that compressing six, hour-long episodes onto a single disc probably didn't help matters.

Audio Review


It's also too bad that the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 doesn't help in redeeming this Blu-ray. For all the action featured in Burn Notice, the sound is fairly muted and unimpressive. The front channels are loaded with most of the sound while the rear channels all too often remain silent. Even during the explosions, low bass seems to find it hard to escape and give us a truly immersive feeling.

The front channels do their job well though. Michael's narrative is presented clearly through the middle channel, and dialogue has some good directionality, but the lack of any real immersive surround effects only increases this soundtrack's rather lackluster performance.

Special Features

  • Audio Commentaries - There are 3 audio commentaries for this season. The commentary for the episode "Bad Blood" features creator Matt Nix, writer Rashad Raisani, director Ben Watkins and a few guest stars like Bronwen Hughes, Rob Benedict, and Method Man. It's a pretty packed house and at times it's hard to know who is talking. Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup, some would say. It's still a pretty informative commentary, but just too many people to try and listen to. Especially in the allotted show time of less than an hour. Episode "Double Booked" again has Matt Nix, but this time he's accompanied by writer Jason Tracey, director Tim Matheson, and writer Craig O'Neill. Another fairly interesting commentary that gets a bit technical in dissecting scenes. The number of people here is a bit more manageable and works out to be a better commentary just because it's easier to listen to with fewer people. "Lesser Evil" has Matt Nix again, but now he's got Bruce Campbell and Michael Shanks talking along with him. Bruce Campbell should've been on everyone of these commentaries. The man is hilarious. He adds the same exact humor that he adds to the show itself. Sadly we never hear from Jeffery Donovan or the leading lady Gabrielle Anwar. It's impossible to know all the complications that might go along with getting people to record commentary tracks, but it really is a bit depressing that we didn't get to hear from either of them.
  • NIXin' It Up (SD, 14 min) - Creator Matt Nix talks about the episode "Do No Harm" and gives us a bit of insight into what he envisions for the show. He talks about the subtle humor of the show, and lets us in on his meticulous storyboarding and location scouting. Nix is likable enough, and this is a fairly informative feature. It gives you some insight into the show and the ideas behind it.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 11 min) - The deleted scenes are interspersed throughout all three discs. They're the kind of deleted scenes that make the reasons for their exclusion all too evident. In short, they're weak and would've added nothing to the overall show. Scenes included were cut from the following episodes: "Trust Me," "Comrades," "Truth and Reconciliation," "Double Booked," "Do No Harm," and "Lesser Evil."
  • Boom Notice (SD, 9 min) - Here's a feature with some creativity. It's a sort of humorous parody of the show in which a boom-mike operator takes on Michael's role, and tries to help another actor with his problem.
  • Gag Reel (SD, 10 min) - Standard gag reel material, but it's more entertaining than most, simply because of Bruce Campbell.

Why did the picture and audio quality have to be so poor? It's hard to see a show you love get such a crappy treatment. This transfer is just mired in problems, distracting ones. Getting into the story is hard when the picture looks so bad. You get a Blu-ray expecting the best of the best, but this isn't even run-of-the-mill. This is way below average. Just one word sums this one up: disappointment.