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Burn Notice

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TV Series Review

Hey, we all know it's tough to find a job these days. But just imagine how difficult it'd be for an unemployed spy who can't even come up with a single letter of recommendation.

Ask Michael Westen about how hard it is to find work after years of being a government operative, and he'll likely cry in his yogurt cup. Complicating matters considerably, he didn't quit. He was forced out and "burned," leaving him without assets, a job history or prospects for relocation.

Michael is James Bond in The Fugitive—a venerable, vulnerable über-spy. And he has just one viable thing left to do to fill his spare time and keep cable viewers even mildly interested: track down the folks responsible for his unfair dismissal while taking on (very) odd jobs that can utilize his special skills.

He's helped by Fiona, a former operative who also happens to be his off-and-on girlfriend/lover. Sam, a hard-drinking pseudo-spy, adds color. Jesse Porter, a newer addition to the team, adds muscle. And Madeline, Michael's chain-smoking mother adds guilt.

For half a decade, Burn Notice was a flat-out episodic spy caper—most episodes self-contained with the larger thread only apparent during the obligatory season cliffhangers. But lately, we've see a change: The stakes are higher, the show's serial aspects more obvious.

That more serious tone, frankly, isn't the best of fits here though. Neither the writing nor the characters seem at ease in a 24-style drama. But neither is the content quite as severe. While Burn Notice has a higher content quantity than, say, USA's  Psych or the now deceased Monk—it doesn't raise it to envelope-pushing levels. It's happier blowing smoke in rooms already designated for such activities, exuding the vibe of a 1980s throwaway detective thriller … with more skin and swearing.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

BurnNotice: 7-18-2013
BurnNotice: 7-26-2012
BurnNotice: 7-7-2011
BurnNotice: 6-17-2010



Readability Age Range


Drama, Comedy, Crime



Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen; Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona Glenanne; Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe; Sharon Gless as Madeline Westen






Record Label





Year Published



Paul Asay

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