Sunday, June 17, 2012

Burn Notice Season Five on DVD

USA's Burn Notice recently began its sixth season. It is appropriate, then, that season five recently came out on DVD. Fans who missed the lead up to the great season six premiere will want to know that back story of how Michael (Jeffrey Donovan), Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), and the others got to the point where they are. This four disc set answers those questions quite nicely.

Season five, itself, is a wonderful story, with more ambitious arcs than earlier runs of the series. Picking up with Michael back in the CIA's good graces, hunting down the people that burned him, Michael's work is finally legitimate. He even has a new partner named Max (Grant Show, Private Practice, Melrose Place)!

But this status quo does not last long. Max is murdered, and Michael comes under suspicion for the crime, leading to the appointment of Agent Pearce (Lauren Stamile, Community, Grey's Anatomy) to oversee things. Michael struggles throughout the year to prove himself to her and to stay on the job. This is made more complicated with the arrival of Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns, Justified, Dear John), a psychiatrist who burned Michael, and now wants to blackmail him for his own purposes. Which Anson does by making it look like Fiona committed murder.

The various factions warring on this season of Burn Notice, with bad guys, CIA agents, a lover, and Michael's regular crew all competing for attention and story time, make the year not only jam packed with excitement, but one of the most complex stories on the network. Michael's focus becomes frayed, often splitting the team into two groups, simultaneously working separate missions. There are twists and turns, many with high stakes and unintended consequences. Bringing in new faces like Anson and Pearce not only mix up the dynamics, but also rejuvenate a formula that had begun to grow stale.

Besides Donovan and Anwar, original cast members Bruce Campbell, as Michael's friend Sam, and Sharon Gless, as Michael's mother Maddie, continue to shine, getting their moments in the spotlight. Coby Bell's Jesse, added to the cast the year before, also settles into the group's chemistry, and cements his status as one of the main players.

Among the highlights of the summer run of season five are: "Company Man," where Michael is first seen working as a government operative; "Mind Games," in which Fiona urges Michael to move on from his past, which he refuses to do when he realizes that there is still an active, ongoing conspiracy; "No Good Deed," which finds Michael trying to avoid blame for Max's murder, while also searching for the real killer; "Enemy of My Enemy," where Sam is abandoned by the CIA during an undercover mission for them; "Hard Out," involving the team tracking a bomb maker, as well as Maddie finding love; "Army of One," in which Maddie is taken hostage at an airport; and the fall finale "Dead to Rights," which clears Michael of Max's murder, introduces Anson, and brings back old foe Larry (Tim Matheson, Hart of Dixie, The West Wing) one finale time.

The shorter fall batch of episodes also has great moments. "Damned If You Do" finds Anson sending Michael and Fiona to Puerto Rico. In "Necessary Evil," Maddie's boyfriend is exposed as an agent of Anson's, with tragic consequences. "Acceptable Loss" features a friend of Jesse's who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to bring down a very bad man. And the season concludes in "Fail Safe," with Michael running a very important CIA operation, which Anson screws up, and Fiona turns herself into the police to free Michael from Anson's control.

This four disc DVD set includes a number of special features. There are lots of deleted scenes spanning all the discs. "Army of One" gets the extended treatment, while "Fail Safe" has an optional audio commentary. There is also a gag reel and a featurette on the villains of Burn Notice, which profiles such memorable bad guys as Carla (Tricia Helfer), Vaughn (Robert Wisdom), Mason Gilroy (Chris Vance), Larry, and Anson.

Burn Notice Season 5 will likely be remembered as the year when the show raised its game a level. There are still clients in every installment, but the serial elements of the series finally get more attention, and the characters show real growth and development. This is a DVD set any fan should own.

Buy Burn Notice Season 5, on sale now.

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