Even if the third season of “Burn Notice” isn’t quite up to the standards of its older brothers, it remains one of the most purely entertaining shows on television. During original broadcast on USA, these 16 episodes were broken up into two clumps, aired nearly half a year apart from one another; it’s far more satisfying to view them without a changing of seasons in between.
The show still sticks to its original concept of former spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) stuck in Miami after his employer has wiped his identity clean. This forces him to take freelance gigs, helping out the common man; these generally involve undercover work with a bent for disguises, accents, heists and a smidge of “MacGyver“-style derring-do on the fly.
Among his cases here, Michael aids a crazy conspiracy theorist (a hilarious Michael Weston, not to be confused with our hero’s name), is annoyed by “agent to the spies” Tom Strickler (Ben Shenkman, appropriately sleazy), and helps out one hot fashion designer (Christina Moore) with a theft problem. In midst of all this danger, the show carves out a terrific scene for Michael’s chain-smoking mom (Sharon Gless) to assist in one scheme by trying to pull information out of a loan officer, played by Gless’ “Cagney & Lacey” partner, Tyne Daly.
Michael’s ongoing on/off flirtations with ex-girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) continue to do nothing for me, and this season’s guest star for the first half, Moon Bloodgood as a cop investigating Michael, is nowhere near as formidable a foil as Tricia Helfer was. But Donovan is excellent as always as Michael, easily switching between playing action, comedy and mystery as the show demands.
If this season improves in any department, it’s in involving Michael’s best bud, former Navy SEAL Sam (Bruce Campbell), more in their wool-over-the-eyes plans. One episode, in particular, finds him on the top of his game posing as a motivation speaker, trying to distract an office of cubicle drones with promises of ice cream cake. Another gives him a great throwaway gag that riffs on David Caruso’s sunglasses bit from “CSI: Miami.”
The four-disc set includes two 10-minute featurettes: one on how they pull off the elaborate-by-TV-standards stunts, and another that condenses Campbell and crew’s Q-and-A at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con. Naturally, the crowd loves him. “Rod Lott