Third-episode verdict: Burn Notice

The Carusometer for Burn Notice
2, a partial Caruso

Oh dear. And it started so promisingly. I really had high hopes for this but the deadening hand of the USA Network has struck again.

The first episode showed promise. Burn Notice could have been a very good spy show with a quirky side. Instead, it’s now a quirky show with a slight spy side. The balance is all off. Worse still, Bruce Campbell has almost nothing to do.

True, Gabrielle Anwar dispensed with her rubbish Irish accent in the second episode, but she replaced it with an American accent that was only slightly better. The arcing “who gave Jeffrey Donovan a burn notice?” plot is now restricted to just a couple of minutes at the start and finish of the episode, while the “let’s help a loser using my special spy powers so that I can learn about family” guff is now the predominant theme of the show. Blurgh.

Still, there’s just a hint of dark left to the show, with Donovan and co willing to bump off, blackmail, fire bomb and generally do anything underhand that they like in order to right wrongs, which can”t be all bad. I suspect that as the arcing plot gathers momentum, we’ll be back to the original promise of the first episode, although I’ll probably be proved wrong.

So The Medium is Not Enough has no great pleasure in declaring Burn Notice a two or “Partial Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Caruso corresponds to “a show with two walk-on cameos by David Caruso as a self-proclaimed master spy. He will try to get his character, Mick McGrady McMurphy, to explain the history of the Irish Republican Army. Unfortunately, his only only reference material is a copy of Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games and a box of Lucky Charms cereal. Before he can ad lib a scene in which he decides to bomb the ‘train between Dublin and London’, the producers send him a swatch book for his trailer decorations and they are able to recast him before he’s chosen ‘ultramarine’”.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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