Special Feature: Burn Notice Commentary Transcript

As most fans will know, Michael Shanks had a four-episode arc in Season 2 of the hit USA series Burn Notice. Playing burned spy “Victor”, he was prominent in the very popular season finale, “Lesser Evil”.

Michael joined creator Matt Nix and co-star Bruce Campbell on the DVD commentary, which is very entertaining. Now, thanks to the efforts of Stargate fan daniel4ever, we bring you the transcript of the DVD commentary in its entirety! Please read and let us know how you enjoyed it!

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In the transcript:
MN: is creator Matt Nix
BC: is actor Bruce Campbell
MS: is actor Michael Shanks

MN: Hi, I’m Matt Nix, creator of Burn Notice, here with Bruce Campbell…

BC: I play Sam Axe…

MN: and Michael Shanks…

MS: I play Victor…

MN: So, this was the season finale for season 2, Lesser Evil, although this part (opening credits) is in every episode so there really is not a whole lot to say.

BC: This is where you get to do the wonderful recap of the amazement they are about to experience.

MN: Yes, exactly.

BC: So, this was directed by our good friend Tim Matheson, right?

MN: Indeed it was, who can be heard on the episode 2.08 commentary.

BC: And he’s been around, what, this was his 3rd episode?

(Currently showing scenes from previous episode with MS on screen)

MN: Uh, let’s see, he did one in the first season, so this is his third episode. He’s actually directing the season premiere of 3 as well.

BC: He kind of has been co-opted into doing some of the bigger ones. He gets a little, he gets a little epic.

MN: Yes, yes, and this was a big episode, this was a very big episode for us. For various sorts of odd budgetary reasons, we ended up, um, with a little extra more money to spend on this one which was great, because we had a lot to do.

BC: Yeah, there’s some major carnage in this thing, too, and Tim, you know, he shoots like a feature, if you watch his episodes, he gets a lot of coverage and he does things that are more like a movie which is kind of fun when you’re working on it but probably tortures the producers. But it is a good episode.

(Background MW getting into Carla’s limo)

MN: Now this was all shot in midtown which is actually great for us because it is pretty empty, it’s a sort of downtown looking place, but uh, you don’t even need to clear the streets, there is nobody on them. So it’s very empty, sort of unfortunate for anyone who invested in midtown, but we can use it as sort of a back lot, it’s great. (BC laughs) (Something else is said here but it is incomprehensible, because two people are talking at the same time) Now, Bruce, what is Jeffrey doing right now, do you know?

BC: He’s shooting the first day of episode 2, season 3.

MN: That’s right, first day of episode 2.

BC: He’s on a set, torturing a bad guy, right now…

(Limo ride in background)

MN: Yes, as he should be…

BC: And on screen, he’s torturing Tricia Helfer, obviously, the infamous Carla, who the funny thing is, all bad guys are the nicest people as actors (all laugh). I mean, it’s true, (someone else says something here that I can’t understand) Vincent Price, he really just wanted to cook in his kitchen, you know, not kill innocent people. But, and the same with Tricia, she’s from Canada, she’s a prairie girl, incredibly down to earth and here she is playing you know this steely kind of bad ass character. I always find it very entertaining.

MS: Is there a hidden message that both of the seemingly bad guys in this particular episode, Victor and Carla, are from, the actors are from Canada?

MN: Uh huh.

MS: Is there a hidden message that most of the secret agents out to get us here in America are from Canada?

BC: Well, you know Canada; those guys are a very dangerous neighbor to the north. You gotta watch them.

MS: They’re wily.

BC: They could invade at any moment.

MN: Yeah, they’re just sitting around drinking beer, being kind of laid back and then you turn your back

BC: Watch your back, boom they stab you.

MS: There’s an elbow pad in your face like you wouldn’t believe. (BC laughs)

BC: So, now, Matt, we’re getting near another interrogation scene or another setting certainly. These are becoming a little more a part of the show.

(MW is walking up the steps to where Victor is being held)

MN: Yeah, absolutely, one thing that we’ve discovered is that blocking a scene is much easier when people are tied to chairs. (Laughter)

MS: I think it’s great that now that Obama is president that we’ve taken this tack that now that Jack Bauer is not torturing so much that on Burn Notice you can take it as an Obama like stance with everything. (Laughter)

MN: Yeah, we don’t really, you know, we’ll beat each other up, but we usually don’t touch the bad guys.

BC: No, there isn’t… you know, what it is, on this show, we get the bad guys to kill each other.

MN: Yeah.

(Victor and MW are fighting on screen in background)

BC: It’s a higher moral ground than taking a, you know, live wire and just sticking it in their ear for half an hour.

MS: This is great when we did this fight scene, because they’d uh, we’d, obviously just finished the bathroom fight at the end of the previous episode and they’d kind of done a similar thing in here, where it was just hand to hand, and what was great in terms of Jeffrey is he pointed out we were in this great space with all these metallic looking tools and chains and whatnot, let’s use it, let’s shake it up a little we don’t want to just do the same ol’ same ol’, so… although it is odd that he would be around so many conveniently placed chains and…

BC: But you have to have that though, right Matt, if you’re gonna fight, you gotta have some form of weaponry available.

MN: Exactly, that’s why you put people in interesting locations with chains. (Laughter) You are fired, Shanks, you are retroactively fired, don’t say that ever again. (All laugh)

MS: I don’t know how much more I could be fired. (All laugh)

BC: Well, we don’t want to give away what happens, obviously, right until it happens, because it’s gonna shock me even watching it now.

MS: I’m hoping that if they’re listening to the track with the commentary on it, maybe they’ve seen the episode, but… I don’t know, you know, people do things for different reasons.

BC: You know, they may have been too busy and the DVD is the way that they watch this show. In Buttcrack, Kansas, that’s probably how it’s going down. I don’t think they’re going to be TIVO-ing as much.

(Victor and MW talking to each other in background on screen)

MS: I can respectfully say I’ve never been in Buttcrack, Kansas.

MN: Now this, uh, Michael, was your sort of transition from crazy, homicidal Victor to, there it goes, look at it, emotional Victor. What was that like?

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MS: Um, this was, it was interesting because this was shot, both this and the scene on the boat were shot on the very last day of filming and I think up to that point there was a lot of question in I think uh, at least Tim’s mind, I’m not sure in your mind too, whether or not Victor – we were going to like Vic – and I remember when I first got the script and I looked at it and I said well this is the scene where we have to see the stuff underneath what is going on there and if you don’t do that, there’s nothing else to me in the script up to the end where you are actually going to get a chance to feel for the guy. So it was really important to me to focus on this scene and find that underlying pain that the audience could relate to more, then, as well as not betray the character, so that is why you see, uh, sort of both simultaneously.

MN: What I think is actually amazing about what you did here is, um, and I think it’s really more credit to me because I told you how to act it…

MS: Absolutely. (laughter)

MN: No, is you really managed to hold onto who Victor is when you laugh, and it’s not that he’s suddenly sort of dropping a veil and becoming a different guy, he’s the same guy. It’s just that he showing a different side of himself.

MS: Right.

BC: And, Michael, I have to say that I think you were a very good bad guy, and I’m actually sorry to say the word “were,” but I’m not going to give anything away you know, but I think as far as bad guys go you’re right up there. You’re 4 episodes of bad guy, most bad guys are one episode so you punched through the barrier, you’ve done a kind of cinematic history, really, in television.

MN: Worthy adversary.

MS: Whoa!

BC: Yeah, no, that’s true, you’ve fallen into the worthy adversary category and in this show, you never really know if someone is fully on your side.

MS: I’ve had a couple of people watch this and they kept waiting until the very end, and even afterwards as to whether or not Victor was gonna still turn on Michael somehow and they were so surprised when the gunshot went off and that was it, they didn’t uh…

(On screen: MW coming down stairs after talking to Victor with Fiona and Sam)

BC: What gunshot? What are you talking about? (Laughter)

MS: Uh, the uh, well, she’s got a shotgun in her hand right there, it’s gonna happen any second now. (Someone whistles a casual whistle…)

MN: Actually, Bruce…

BC: Yeah?

MN: You’ll be interested in this, one of the things that we… when we’re working on the episodes think about in terms of characters turning, bad guys turning, and when to trust people is when Sam trusts someone, it sort of gives the audience permission to trust someone.

BC: (laughs) Right! Well, Sam has a BS meter, I think.

MN: Yeah.

MS: That’s true; he seems to be the cynical one.

BC: He doesn’t have the, uh, yeah, his people skills are not as refined perhaps, and so I don’t know, maybe he’s just enough. That’s a good point, Matt, I’ll keep that in mind, that Sam is the moral compass of the series.

MN: Yeah, sure, moral compass of the series, exactly. Ok, I accept that.

BC: Because Fiona is out of control, I mean, she’ll kill anyone at anytime for any reason, so it’s really Sam has to calm her down and you know, keep her in line.

(On screen: MW and Fiona have just entered Victor’s boat)

MN: Yes, this was our Art Department’s, uh, we wanted Victor to have rigged all of the windows so that if you went in any way, uh, you’d get Claymored, hence, Fi’s “Victor should teach a class,” line.

MS: The only thing that got me about that was the fact that, um, was that Michael stood in front of the Claymore while she was disarming it till she said clear, and then he moved out of the way of the Claymore.

MN: You’re fired again. (laughter)

BC: Hey guys, can I make a quick note? I saw the Captain Crunch back there, uh; Captain Crunch has a very negative connotation for me.

MN or MS (sometimes I cannot tell and will denote as or): Oh?

BC: I was eating a bowl of Captain Crunch, which was my favorite cereal and was then notified that my dog had died.

MN: Oh no!

BC: And I’ve not touched, literally, Captain Crunch, since.

MN: How old were you Bruce?

BC: This was last week. (laughter) No, I was like 10.

MN: Oh, wow.

BC: It was my favorite cereal and I can’t look at it. So thanks for putting it in the show.

MN: Sorry! Well, it’s associated with a tragic loss, that’s why it’s in there, Bruce, we’re mining your emotional history.

BC: Are there other people you think that their animals have died while eating the same cereal?

MN: I think it’s just you.

MS or MN: This is just for your therapy this has got nothing to do with… (Can’t hear the rest as Bruce begins speaking again)

(On screen: Victor and Sam enter cage for interrogation)

BC: I like this place to torture Michael in this scene cause it’s a great cage, it’s just a giant cage, and look, there’s more weaponry lying around, there’s a vice, what’s that? There’s a vice and a wrench… (laughter)

MS: Careful, careful, he can still fire you. (lots of laughter)

BC: Good! Uh, yeah, actually, there’s lots of stuff up on the shelves too. (Someone else says something indistinguishable here too.) That’s right, he’s tied to his chair so it’s all right. But, I like, you know, how he’s a good adversary, because he messes with Sam cause he knows – he knows all the drills, so he knows that Sam is going by the book. Which is good, what I think when a bad guy is as smart as the good guy, then it really gets tough, then the bad – the good guys have to work for a change.

MN: Yeah, we had to look up all of the actual numbers in the uh, at least that version of the military interrogation manual.

BC: Oh, right, of how many, uh, techniques there actually were.

MN: Cause there are all these different approaches and you know some are more popular than others.

BC: And the episode we just shot, which I can’t reveal yet because it’s very secret, has a new technique, a completely different technique still to come. So, viewers, after watching the amazing techniques in this episode, there’s more amazing stuff yet to come. When you guys gonna run out, Matt?

MN: Uh, I don’t know. I mean I think that, uh…

BC: Are we ever gonna do a waterboarding? (laughter)

MN: No, I think that’s off limits, actually.

BC: Really? Can’t really go there?

MN: Yeah.

BC: That would be less comfortable. (Someone, probably Matt, says something in here that I cannot make out – since he was talking the same time as Bruce, who is louder.)

(On screen: MW and Fiona have just gotten out of the car, and Sam comes down the ramp to meet them.)

MS: I’m thinking as much as Victor was a rival for Michael for spy skills, I think he’s a rival for Sam Axe for bad fashion choices. (laughter – this is where Sam is wearing the red shirt with the big appliqué) I was looking at that last scene – that was visually assaulting.

MN: Well, now, wait a second… (laughter) you’re touching a nerve there!

BC: Yeah, I’d go easy on that, because me and Tommy Bahama are very close.

MN: Yes. (laughter)

BC: I am not endorsing Tommy Bahama, I’m just saying I think, it, meaning Tommy Bahama, suits me pretty well.

MS: I’m just gonna leave that floating in the breeze there…

BC: What more is there to say?

MS: Yeah.

(On screen: Madeline exercising to Jack LaLanne)

MN: And here we go, this is the beginning of the epic Madeline and Sam…

BC: That’s right!

MS or MN: That’s great. (Can’t hear, someone else is also talking.)

BC: Yeah, I think I shot one scene outside of this, um, house, for the whole episode, me and Madeline, but it’s great, you know, look, again, working with Sharon Gless is – what can you ask for? She, she is iconic and yet she’s still a very dedicated actor. She loves it, she gets excited, you know, we would like, she got like nervous, she was nervous sometimes and uh, I just thought that was so cute, a woman who busted her butt on a really, you know, on Cagney and Lacey for so many years, I still get excited working with her cause I go, she’s from a different time period, she’s from a different, you know, she really – she set her own landmarks in their own world, they were, they, she had her version of an iconic show.

MN: I mean, it’s amazing watching her just bring it. It’s like a switch goes on or something.

BC: Uh huh, uh huh.

MN: It’s pretty – really incredible!

BC: But, typically, you know, on screen, you know, she’s barking orders and chain smoking, and off screen, she’s kid of sweet and goofy.

MN: Yeah.

BC: Typical. It’s all the good guys who are the jerks.

MN: I love watching her rake you over the coals too.

BC: Ha ha! Well, cause what’s good is she is Michael’s mother so she’s not a dummy.

MN: Yeah.

BC: And, she had a kind of an idiot husband, Michael’s father, so she’s had to deal with all of this before. That always amuses me.

(On screen: Michael enters cage to talk to Victor. They allow dialogue to play briefly – Victor’s line, “Four? That seems high, oh, come on, you’re counting earlier with the chair!”)

MN: A fine delivery, Michael Shanks! That was great. (laughter)

MS: Oh, look at my face though; I only really counted to three, so delivery fine, math not so good!

MN: Yes. (pause in talking here) Yeah, this was, this was a… I think kind of a tricky scene, because it’s uh, you’re coming clean with him in a lot of ways and it’s you’re not entirely trusting each other and it’s…

BC: Now, Matt, significant of the season 2 DVD compilation is that as opposed to last year, we have a new director of photography.

MN: Yes, yes.

BC: Which I’m not sure if folks will, uh, hopefully they’ll notice, uh, it’s a different style.

MN: The fabulous Bill Wages, yes.

BC: Yeah, Bill Wages came in and uh, it looks to me – well, first of all, I can see on the set again. (laughter) Because, uh you know, the first season had a fabulous look, but it was done with a different style with the big old lights shining in your face, kind of like it was in 1964.

MN: Yeah, it was much brighter.

BC: Much different story, and uh, this season I can actually take my sunglasses off and you know, play a scene, so it’s… We’re enjoying working with Bill, he’s a real hardworking guy, he gets in there too whenever it’s a lot of hand held stuff – not all directors of photography will actually shoot stuff – he’ll grab the camera and just get in there and go – so he’s a real “let’s pick this up and do this” kind of guy.

MN: Very hands on, yeah.

BC: Yeah.

(On screen: Victor and Michael get in car and drive off quickly.)

MN: Now this, actually, uh, Tim Matheson really pioneered the use of shooting the interiors of the car on the stages and the actual driving stuff, some of this is second unit, some of this is, uh…

BC: Is it you’re saying, Matt, the rear screen stuff?

MN: The rear screen stuff, yeah. We hadn’t really… we’d done a little bit of it but this was really…

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BC: Which I have to say works really well, we just did it in the episode we just shot recently and it’s so good for actors because actors can then just act and not worry about causing a traffic accident, and it’s really good for the sound guys and the camera guys can get very controlled and it’s really easy to get more shots because you’re just all controlled on a stage and you know if you keep it moving like this and you only show it periodically I think it works perfectly fine.

MS: Oh, it does, I… I…

BC: You wouldn’t really know. (I think in context he is referring to the viewers.)

MS: I’d never done it before, um, in the studio, and what I found out about shooting the stuff, obviously the stuff that was done by the stunt guys on second unit, the – all the real driving stuff, I felt so foolish when we were doing it in the studio. I think I remember telling you that, Matt, and um, cause – but I’ve also done so much spaceship (laughter)…

BC: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah…

MS: … poor man’s (I think this is what he said, it was hard to make out) process which is – would seem to be more absurd because you’re running around and the set is sparking but you also don’t actually see through the windows and see what’s sort of happening and it’s not a contemporary sort of situation so you can suspend disbelief a little bit more. I was actually feeling more foolish in this because it’s just the two guys in the front seat and you’re wondering how silly you guys look sort of doing that shift back and forth and um I was amazed at how well it tied together – uh, it really looks seamless and nobody notices at all.

BC: Another thing is, you know, it’s really good for TV shooting because it allows you to do more stuff in a stage which is always more controlled.

(On screen: The big explosion, and car rolling over onto its side and top through the flames.)

BC: Well, Matt, I’m still half amazed in this modern world that we are still actually blowing stuff up.

MN: I’m very proud of the fact that – and we do almost no CGI. We’ve probably done…

BC: Yeah, and these are big!

MN: Cleanup stuff, yeah.

BC: You know, Jeffrey and I were in the front of a couple of big ones and I think it’s exciting because the whole – I mean, it makes a massive concussion and you have to be extremely careful, but these guys, all the effects guys, get very excited when it’s time to blow something up. They get giddy like children!

MN: And so do we all!

BC: Yeah, but I guess there’s no doing a real fireball vs. a digital one where you know you see a car driving through it, the fire interacts with the car…

MN: Yeah, you can tell!

BC: There’s no way you can do that in the digi-world. But, see, yeah, Michael, that stuff all works good, you know, you think you’re hanging out to dry there shooting it, but it’s all in context.

MS: Yeah, I know. Stuff like this, just when he points and the shifting and all that stuff cuts together so well.

(On screen: Driving into garage.)

MN: Now it wasn’t until we actually got onto the set and started doing the meetings that we realized that we have a car chase that spans from before the commercial, through the commercial, then this is sort of the break in the car chase and then it continues after – it’s like the longest car chase ever! (laughter) Ah, the fuzzy pink, uh, rear view mirror…

MS: That was a great treat. (laughter) It seemed that everything Victor – I loved about the character, it seemed that everything Victor touched turned pseudo homoerotic. I don’t know if (can’t make out) meant it that way or… (laughter) But it was great that the set guys came up with that!

(On screen: Madeline and Sam in her kitchen.)

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BC: Meanwhile, back at mom’s house…

MN: What I love about what you did in this Bruce, was the really playing – it’s like she’s playing a scene from earlier in the season and there… Sam doesn’t want a drink!

BC: Oh, yeah, then there’s key! You know Sam’s serious when there’s no alcohol involved.

MN: Yeah.

BC: Cause then something matters to him. (Pause to listen to dialogue in episode – Sam says, “Crap,” as he looks out the window.) That’s my favorite word in the show, Matt; anytime I see the word crap in a script I get very happy. (laughter) It’s just such a great Michigan word “Ah, crap!”

MN: Exactly.

BC: What’s your car like? It’s a piece of crap. Everything in Michigan was a piece of crap where I grew up. That’s why I don’t live there anymore, but… (laughter) … it’s just a great – I love that term, anytime I can sneak it in it’s a beautiful thing!

(On screen: Sam shooting through the front door of Madeline’s house.)

BC: I love the fact – I was just on that set the other day – there’s a brand new front door.

MN: Oh, yeah, we…

BC: Because I keep forgetting the carnage and mayhem that we did.

MN (I think): It was pretty significant.

MS: Oh, yeah, how did that get explained away, the entire loss of the front and side of her house?

BC: It had to be fixed and in the upcoming episode, we’re going to try and fix it. (laughter)

MN: Yeah, Sam spends how many episodes at Madeline’s in season 3 working on fixing the place up? (laughter)

BC: Yeah, so they are going to try and fix it… (someone else says something that I can’t make out).

MS: That’s great.

(On screen: Back in garage – Michael throws a brick through a car window.)

BC: Did you know that Michael Westen breaks a lot of car windows? (He then says something else, but I can’t make it out.)

MN: He does, he does. We don’t have a whole lot of respect for property!

BC: Uh uh, because things are important, you gotta move!

MN: And this was your first scene you shot in the episode.

MS: This is the first scene, yeah, and it was… this is where you really realize how much I sweat in Miami!

BC: No, no, Michael, I’ve got you beat, sorry, I mean, we’ve had to create high tech undergarments to wick away the moisture that comes off my doughy body.

MS: I thought for me, I thought that because we were shooting it in a carpark, (ed note – you can tell he is not from the US by that term!) I thought, well, it will be shaded and kind of cool. (laughter) No, it’s a brick pizza oven in there, so I’m – it was, uh, you know, for me trying to remember my lines on top of everything else…

BC: No, but it’s funny, obviously your first day of shooting, it’s like the, you know, halfway through the episode – that’s always my favorite!

MS: yeah!

MN: We’re actually, uh, paying for some of the episodes by selling actor’s sweat by the quart (laughter) (can’t make out) fans.

BC: Man, I got gallons then for you – I’m good!

(Something else is said in here, but I can’t make it out.)

(On screen; back at Madeline’s house.)

BC: And it’s funny – that Madeline is slowly learning the spy business. I mean, she was really out of it for a while, missed all of it, but now it’s kind of all slowly dawning on her, and I think over time she’s starting to recognize guys – she’s a little more accepting who Michael brings home.

MN: Yeah.

BC: He’s always coming home with weirdoes.

MN: Season 7, she’ll be like, “Sam, is this a Mark 5 fragmentation grenade or a Mark 7?”

BC: Exactly. (laugher) “I wouldn’t do that Sam, that’s a bad choice!”

(On screen: Sam and Madeline preparing explosives.)

BC: Now, these montages are always kind of, they’re interesting to watch and to shoot, you kind of just, do it in real time.

MN: Yeah.

BC: Uh, you know, we’ve talked about the prop guy Charlie before, that uh, he makes this so you can kind of just do it and so we just shoot us doing it knowing that will be, you know, crunched down to 37 seconds.

MN: I think it’s always fun though seeing when he sort of takes you through it and says, ok, so here’s how it actually works.

BC: Yeah. (laughs)

MS: Now here’s a question – Is that actually plausible, is that the non-dairy creamer mixed with the gunpowder?

MN: Yes, uh, the explosion that it makes in the show is a little bigger…

MS: Right.

MN: … than uh, than it would, but it makes a pretty impressive fireball, um, cause it’s, you know, it’s very – it’s a fatty substance, there’s a lot of energy in non-dairy creamer and it’s got so much surface area because it’s a powder, it makes a big, uh, big poof!

BC: But, Matt, when you do these things you always have to like leave out like two vital ingredients, right?

MN: Yeah, I mean, the – that particular arrangement, you could probably make it work, under certain circumstances, but you’d need a lot more stuff. We don’t want people hurting themselves.

(On screen: Car exiting the garage and crashing into the parked cars at the bottom of the ramp.)

BC: You know, Artie the stunt guy must have had a smile on his face for this entire episode.

MN: Oh, yeah, yeah.

BC: I mean, he never had a bad day when we were shooting this.

MN: Now you’ll notice that the piece of concrete on the floor there says “OTTER” on it, which is an homage to Tim Matheson’s character in “Animal House.”

MS: Right.

BC: Wow, that’s good!

MN: Yes. Dr. Flotterman was the uh…

BC: But will Tim leave a hint of him being on “Leave it to Beaver.” (laughter) Will there be something there? (more laughter)

MN: Well, no, I threw that in. Maybe we’ll put “Leave it to Beaver” in the uh, coming up.

BC: I think we should. We gotta dig deep – go to IMDB and figure out Mr. Tim Matheson because he goes waaaay back! It’s really nice too, working with Tim, because he has been on film sets since he was like five, so he kind of lives on a film set…

MN: Yeah.

BC: And it’s really nice. He’s seen it from every angle. I’m gonna bug him because he just mentioned he did some movie with Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason – I’m like, ok, come on, where are the stories?

MS or MN: Wow! (laughter in background)

BC: Yeah, can you believe that combo?

MS or MN: Woooow!

BC: Trying to get those guys out of their trailer?

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MN: That was, uh, after we saw the, I’ll confess, after we saw the explosion that the effects guys gave us there, we added part of the line that it was, you know, these chemicals plus some other stuff because it was such a gigantic explosion. (laughter) I mean, it’s really – you can’t complain about big explosions, but, uh, that was a…

(On screen: Fi sets off charge that blows up a car as they drive by.)

MN: I was itching to do this all season. (laughter) Boom, Boom!

MS: It’s great!

BC: Wow, that’s a very serious explosion, cause you’re flipping a car too.

MN: Yeah.

BC: Yeah, wow! Ok, sorry, cars (emphasis on the s).

MN: Yes, cars.

BC: Wow!

MN: I actually, uh, full disclosure, I was working on a feature script that for various reasons uh, ended up getting shelved by the studio and I had a raining, flaming cars scene in the feature (laughter in background), then uh, this came along and I was, there was part of me that had just fallen in love with that scene and I just decided, yes, we are going to do raining, flaming cars…

MS: On television.

MN: On television!

BC: Just cut and paste, easy…

MN: But honestly, I’m really proud of the fact that we did a, you know, what I felt like was a really respectable version of what is really a big movie stunt!

BC: Yeah.

MN: You know, raining, flaming cars is not really something you see a lot on television.

BC: Yep.

MN: And I think it’s a credit to our uh, stunt guys, who you know, I mean Artie came up to me the other day after I asked him if he could do this – some stunt in one of the episodes and said, I want you guys to try to write something I cannot do. I challenge you in this!

MS: Whoa!

MN: And – but that attitude is just, it’s just great. Now of course, he knows that if we, if we try to do that then he’ll have to, he’ll make a lot of money doing that stuff. (laughter)

BC: Yeah, yeah!

MN: But, uh, but nonetheless, I admire his moxie.

BC: And I still think, Matt, we should continue to go on record here; this is the only show that is still in Miami.

MN: Yes, yes.

BC: We are officially in Miami, dictated to be outside quite a bit, which is why – you know you’re in Miami. I mean, uh, there’s no mountains anywhere!

MN: Yeah, even most of our inside stuff was outside here and most of our outside stuff was car stuff in this episode.

BC: Yeah.

MS: It’s just so strange, because when you really do see the outside, how unique and beautiful it is – it’s amazing that it’s the only show that’s uh, taking advantage of that!

(Pause in commentary to watch what is on screen for a few seconds – On screen, Michael Westen is in the car, using the On Star.)

MN: So now, yes, this is our On Star integration with Saab. (laughter) Um, and I will say, for anyone who, uh, doesn’t like product integration in television, shows, uh, that little chime that you just heard, uh, was the reason we were able to do this entire episode. (laughter) So…

BC: Right, right.

MN: So, thank you GM, we love you Saab!

BC: That flaming wall of cars, you mean?

MN: Yes, flaming wall of cars…

BC: Courtesy of General Motors…

MN: Courtesy of General Motors, yes.

BC: Well, you guys did a, I have to say, for as hokey as product tie-ins are, you did a pretty good job of working it in within the weird spy context.

MS: No, unless you said that, I never would have really noticed that, so…

BC: Right.

MS: Because it makes perfect sense. It’s actually another great spy trick, if you will.

BC: Yeah, I…

MN: My attitude about it is I don’t mind doing it as long as it makes sense.

BC or MS: Yep.

(On screen: Madeline’s house explodes.)

MN: Now here’s the big explosion, boom! (laughter) Now what everyone should know is, we cut out the big part of the explosion. (laughter)

BC: Because it was too ridiculous?

MN: We really did, it was too big, but that was on our stages as well, so we had to do a significant rebuilding after that.

(On screen: Looking at classic red car.)

MN: That is the look of love in Sam’s eyes.

BC: Yeah, baby! And the funny this is about these old cars, they look great, they got a great feel, you look good in them, but man they are a big bucket of rust and you know (laughter) transmissions that don’t work, and leaking…

MN: Cause you were just driving that one again in the…

BC: …leaking fluids, I just drove it again, and I had to just pull out recently from a parking spot, just pull out and follow a guy, and I’m like, ok, let’s see if I can do this, you know, it’s like (Bruce makes funny car noises and sounds – impossible to spell out but you get the idea), so anyone that thinks they want to run out and buy one of these cool vintage cars, uh, save up twice the amount of money, buy it with half, the other half going to fix up that piece of crap. There, I said it.

(On screen: Sam and Madeline in car, just before she gets out to “blend” in downtown.)

MN: Now this scene – were you aware Bruce – I just want to Shout Out to Sharon Gless, I think this is possibly her best scene of this series thus far and we shot this pretty quickly. I mean, did you feel something special there, I mean, it’s really, it’s affecting, at least to me!

BC: Yeah, Matt, you know what, scenes come so fast and furious, you hope that they have the intention that you want and then sometimes in context I think sometimes they get stronger cause we guessed correctly you know…

MN: Yeah.

BC: …that the tone was right at that moment or whatever.

MN: Cause I remember that…

BC: …so…

MN: …we banged that out before lunch, it was (voice trails off, can’t make out).

BC: It was a very, uh, very quick scene, and the one thing I, the only thing I wanted to do in that scene was to not totally lecture her the whole time because she is still Mike’s mother…

MN: Uh huh.

BC: …so Sam would treat her with respect.

MS: Yeah, no, that reads to it.

BC: Kind of chiming at her.

MS: That’s one of the things that’s so touching about it too.

BC: Well, cause Sam, you know, he gets all weepy sometimes. (laughter) He’s a very touching character.

(On screen: Victor, Michael and Fiona driving in little black car.)

BNcap05

MN: Alright, now Michael, I’ve been, I’ve been burning to ask you this, you’re going in here, and we’re doing this stunt, and then you jump up onto the car and you decide you were going to leap into the back of the Saab? Because you didn’t tell anybody you were going to do it, did you decide you were going to do that?

MS: No, Tim, actually – I did it in rehearsal and Tim told me not to and um, I said well, you know, I hate to say but, but um, I would, probably would have done it anyway, I won’t, I won’t lie, but because you guys did such a hand cuffing job of um, having that Parkour guy…

MN: Uh huh.

MS: …do Victor in the uh, whatever episode that was, (laughter) that I said I can’t puss out of this…

MN: Yeah.

MS: …look, you’ve got this guy that’s been able – crawling up buildings, he’s Spider Man in another episode, (laugher) but now I’m gonna old man it into the back seat? I said I think I better jump into the back there and give the character some credibility back, but uh…

MN: Well, I don’t know if you heard the crew, because we were pretty far away, but you got spontaneous applause on that.

MS: I did, I did, and I was, I think I was too busy – worried about trying – not kicking Jeffrey in the back of the head when I jumped in the back seat, so…

BC: Well, everyone was applauding except the director, Tim Matheson. (laughter)

MS: You don’t say? (laughter)

BC: He was very pissed off.

(Pause in commentary – On screen: looking through a file.)

BC: And the prop guys, I’ll tell you, they must have files and files and files of newspaper clippings, fake IDs, I mean these guys could get into any club in Miami now!

MN: Oh, yeah, absolutely. (laughter)

BC: You know, some of these, our prop guys, I think they – I’d watch ‘em on weekends, cause I don’t know, I think they’re taking that stuff, because they have to make some of it look good enough to shoot on camera.

MS: Uh huh, the detail of it, yeah.

BC: Yeah, and so it’s always – and I’ve always begged them, whenever Sam has to explain a bunch of stuff, I’m like, please, Dear God, give me something I can hold in my hand and they’re usually pretty good about putting photographs in dossiers and files and county things and government stamps, it’s really, they do a really good job.

(On screen: Michael and Fi discussing his leaving for Cuba.)

MN: They really do. Now I was really disappointed, unfortunately Gabrielle was actually going to be with us today but she, uh, her schedule got moved up and so she’s shooting right now as we’re doing this, but this was, uh, I think, one of their best love scenes, if you will.

MS: Unh huh.

MN: Umm…

BNcap06

BC: Well, these guys, look, it – they have chemistry, you got two leading actors and that, as Michael well knows, sometimes you’re gonna pass the chemistry test and sometimes you’re gonna fail.

MS: Unh huh.

BC: And these two, for whatever reason, they got it, and it’s critical, so I mean I don’t know that you, you can’t fake that, you really can’t fake that chemistry.

MN: And what’s fun is a part of the chemistry is that slap, and it was interesting, cause I wrote that scene without the slap and then it was actually Tim Matheson who said, it feels like it needs a, something, there and I was like, Iiiiii… I think I know what it needs and then I wrote in the slap and everybody – Yes, the slap, perfect! (laughter) But I love that it manages to be more romantic with the slap and not less.

MS: Unh.

BC: Well, there always seems to be a little violence with love.

MN: Yeah.

BC: you know, in the, in the trenches you know it’s always, uh, life and death.

MN: Combustible.

BC: Exactly.

MS: Well, especially for those two it seems to be the MO.

BC: Yes, well, it’s explosive. (pause in commentary) And Matt, I must say with this new season coming up – doesn’t seem like it’s changing, seems like it’s still explosive and good chemistry.

MN: You know, it’s true.

BC: Just saying is all, just saying.

MN: I know, yeah, they got it, they got it!

BC: And you know what’s funny, um, a friend of a friend of a friend is a police officer, and you’d think that he would only want the stuff that blows up. He very specifically, uh, left a phone message that he was very happy that the Michael and Fiona thing was continuing because that was one of his favorite parts of the show, coming from a tough cop!

MN and MS: Uhn, yeah!

MN: Well, I mean, it matters to us too and people think we’re less into it than we are, but we spend a lot of time thinking about it, just out of…

BC: And the funny thing is, if you don’t have it, then all you really have is stuff blowing up.

MN: Yeah, if there’s no context you don’t care, you need to care about the people.

BC: So I think it, yeah, it’s the, yeah, it’s the underpinnings of that and what I think is coolest about the show is yeah, stuff blows up but ultimately at the end of the day it’s all about spies just dealing with their miserable lives.

MN: Yeah.

BC: And you have to care, like you have to care that Michael Westen will be killed, if you don’t then the show’s over.

(On screen: Victor and Michael getting on Victor’s boat.)

MN: Well, and that’s actually, I mean in this scene’s – that’s coming up, it was really all about, and you know you did a great job with that Michael, making that character someone that you’d come to care about, and I’ve had more people than I can count bemoan the death of Victor and here it is, oh…

(On screen: Victor is shot.)

MS: Oh, ouch!

BC: Oh my God!

MN: The shock!

BC: What just happened?!

MS: There she is, Tricia…

BC: Oh, good old Carla…

MS: Canadians with guns! (laughter)

BC: Yeah, exactly, a Canadian with a gun, what are you going to do?

MS (I think): Evil…

BC: Unbelievable! That’s a good shocker, though Matt, I must say, that’s the kind of – you gotta, even, even though Michael was a very good guest star, if you don’t do stuff like that, I think this really mixes it up, because now people go, oh, he’s probably not coming back, you know?

MN: Yeah, well, that’s the thing, I really feel strongly that you gotta be willing to go there and it shows people that you’re serious and that the stakes on the show are for real.

MS: Yeah, yeah.

BC: Yep, I think that the best thing of the Star Wars series was Luke Skywalker getting his hand cut off.

MN: Yeah.

BC: When that happened, I cheered. I’m like, oh, he can be hurt.

MN: Unh, hmm.

BC: And then of course, three seconds later it became – he got a new hand, mechanical hand.

MS: That must have been an awkward moment in the theater there, Bruce. (laughter)

BC: It was a little awkward, but, uh, you know, I had to react to something.

(On screen: Helicopter flying around.)

MN: We had so much fun with these helicopters. (laughs)

BC: Well, no, it’s always funny how, um, on the day helicopters arrive, how many producers show up insisting that they’ve gotta supervise.

MS: Right, right, right.

MN: It was very important that I be in the helicopter supervising.

BC: I know and Matt, the funniest thing is my assistant, Mike, who’s down here with me, uh, really dreams of being a stunt man and, and you know, he’s got a pretty good look and he finally got to be a helicopter pilot and so he didn’t have to do anything really other than kind of sit in the passenger seat, but he got to basically bomb around and, uh, fly around in the helicopter all day. I’m like, dude, I’m not paying you too!

MN: He looked great!

(On screen: Carla is shot.)

BC: So – Oh, wait, what is going on here?

MN: That’s Artie our stunt guy as the sniper there. Ah, yes…

BC: It is somehow, uh, fitting, that it is Fiona. I mean now, frankly Sam – Matt, I gotta say I’m a little disappointed there…

MN: (laughs)

BC: …because Sam is usually the guy with the gun, with the rifle and scope…

MN: But she’s been itching to do it, she’s been asking to do it all season.

BC: I know it, I’m sure of it. I’m sure, but I’m just a little it upset because I found it a little inappropriate, but I’m gonna let it go because I understand. (laughter)

MN: Next time you can shoot all the guests. For next season you shoot all the guest stars.

BC: Shoot all the women.

MN: Kill them all.

BC: Thank you! And, helicopters are fun, but as you know Matt, if you have one helicopter, it means you have to have two.

MN: Yep, yep.

BC: Right? Because you gotta, to shoot from one helicopter to the other. And did you get to ride, Matt? Did you get to ride?

MN: I did. I was in the second helicopter.

BC: Cause you had to supervise.

(On screen: Michael Westen goes over to Victor to help apply pressure to his wound.)

BNcap07

MN: Now this, for the folks at home, we shot all of this stuff inside the boat on the stages. And then all of the helicopter stuff was a different day. And then all of the exterior boat stuff was at a different time. And then all of the commando stuff was at a different time, so it was a very, uh, we were piecing this together in the editing room. I was really pleased with how it came out, but it was… You had a long talk with Tim, did you not about this?

MS: I sure did, uh, I credit a lot of the good stuff in this to Tim because, uh, he made me feel like a rookie, which is great, because, uh, I’d worked this out in my head of how I was going to do this and he reminded me of certain common actor mistakes that I was falling into and I went, Oh my God, I should have seen that a million miles away, so uh, it changed the dynamite with the scene and effectively…

BC: Now, Michael, give us a tidbit…

BNcap08

MS: Well, he just, he just said… (can’t make out, both MS and BC are talking at the same time)

BC: Give him his props here. What did he do to save your performance?

MS: I was playing, I was playing if a lot of the stuff like that, where you see me backed further in the corner, um, that was the first take we did and it was a lot of me playing the pain and the hurt and the playing the wound, and he said, play against it, go after your objective, what do you need him to do? And that’s what, uh, the, all that – the aggressive stuff came out of, was him saying, you know, go get, go after this guy and what was great about it, he was absolutely right, um…

BNcap09

BC: Look, Donovan’s getting all gooey here too.

MS: Yeah.

MN: No, and you could see the – I remember watching this scene, and when your voice, Michael, hit that kind of uhhhhhh, that it hit Jeffrey.

BC: Now he’s got some weird thoughts here guys, he was…

MN: Yeah, well, he didn’t tell anybody he was doing it.

MS: No.

BC: Did you see what he did with that gun?

MN: This was, he did this once…

MS: Yeah.

BC: That was creepy.

BNcap10

MN: We were watching that, and I was watching it and I was like, is he going to shoot himself?

BC: Right, right, because it’s those moments where you go, this is all just not, this is not worth it. This is the downside of the spy business.

MN: Yeah, and the aw… and, and we were shooting that at one AM the morning of the last day of shooting of the entire season. (laughter)

BC: I don’t think Donovan could even stay awake that day.

MN: It was really, it was really late, and everyone was really tired, and then he did that and the whole crew just burst out into applause.

MS: Um hmm.

(On screen: Michael Westen walks from the boat to the helicopter.)

MN: Everyone was hugging him and high five-ing him, it was cause we knew, bam! And then that transformation, even though this was shot on a different day, of him walking out and just being cock of the walk sells it all the more.

MS: Yeah.

MN: Really exciting.

MS: No, it’s great because you’re, that reaction to it, to the shooting – appropriate and everything – it really sells the fact that what Victor was, which was a cautionary tale, and it really helps with this scene in terms of telling the story, uh, in an internal level for him about why, what Victor, what, what – watching Victor do what he’s done, how it has affected him and it effects the choices he makes.

MN: Yeah, and it says, I think, there’s a bit of, there but for the Grace of God go I.

MS: Yeah.

BC: And… (can’t make out)

MN: We added that, uh, Bruce, the uh, good luck Mike.

BC: Good luck Mike.

MN: It just needed it.

BC: We um, in keeping with my theory about bad guys, uh, John Mahoney is playing management here, uh, John Mahoney – I worked with him on the “Hudsucker Proxy” for the Cohen brothers and he again, you know, he’s playing this you know, bad, evil manager guy and again probably one of the sweetest guys on the planet.

MN: He is ridiculously nice. (laughter) Yeah. And also, I don’t know if you know the story, he was, uh, he basically called his agent and said, I really like this show, Burn Notice, if they have anything for me, tell them to let me know.

MS: That’s great!

MN: It worked out great.

BC: Now I hear, uh, Matt, that Michael Bolton is also circling the building.

MN: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Cause he so (can’t make out).

BC: So perhaps you could address that at some point?

MN: One of these days, we will uh… (can’t make out)

BC: Wh… what a coke dealer or something like that.

MN: Yeah, yeah.

BC: You know, cause they always want to play the off types, the romantic singer always wants to be the bad guy.

MN: Ah, we’ll find something.

BC: Maybe it can be a very special Michael Bolton episode.

MN: People make their way down to Miami.

(On screen: Michael Westen and Management discussing his future in the helicopter.)

BC: Now how much did you go up in a helicopter, Matt? I’m not sure; did you fake some of this on a stage?

MN: This was, they were sitting on top of, for this stuff, because you can’t do the sound…

BC: Right, right.

MN: …with the helicopter going, this stuff was in on top of a truck, it was on top of a big container truck, they landed the helicopter and shot this.

BC: Oh, so you could get the sky in the background!

MN: Yeah.

BC: Oh, that’s great!

MN: So we shot all this and then we actually went up in the helicopter, um, to do the actual jumping.

BC: And then you’re doing the herky-jerkies with the camera here?

MN: Yeah, the herky-jerkies…

BC: Right.

MN: …exactly, that ‘s the camera shaking, right.

BC: You’re just trying to keep that camera steady in this moving helicopter.

MN: Right, right. Well, that’s uh, it’s a cool effect.

(On screen: helicopter door opens over water.)

BC: Ok, now Matt, what’s up with this idea, it’s a pretty cool idea.

MN: This was actually, this sort of came, this came very late, it was not in the original version of the script and I was talking with the network and they said, I was talking with the head of the network, uh, Jeff Wachtel, and he was saying, ahhh, I just want something bigger, you know, I don’t know, like a volcano, a helicopter, and I said, helicopter, that’s what we’re doing!

BC: Man, so it’s a pretty high fall, I gotta say.

MN: That’s, that’s uh, about 90 feet, 80-90 feet.

MS(?): Ohhh.

BC: And Dean Grimes did that right?

MN: Dean Grimes, the double, did the full fall and Jeffrey did maybe a 20-30 ft leap off a tuna tower.

BC: That’s enough, that’s enough.

MN: Yeah, that was a really…

MS: Unhh.

MN: …that was a scary fall. Uh, Dean also, the double, had to do the uh, had to do the jump twice because…

BC: Uhhh.

(On screen: Michael Westen underwater.)

MN: …he didn’t nail it. And this is Jeffrey – we were out in the middle of the ocean with an underwater camera doing that. It’s really great having an actor like Jeffrey, who you know, will say things like, I wasn’t under the water long enough… (laughter)

BC: Oh, right.

MN: …I need to be deeper!

BC: He’s into it, he’s committed.

MS: I’m glad, by the way, just for the record, I’m glad you chose helicopter vs. volcano – thought I would mention that to you. (laughter) I… personal preference.

MN: I don’t know that he said volcano, I may be exaggerating, but, and there we go.

BC: Matt, it’s a good ending to that season, because it’s all…

MS: Great music too…

BC: Carla is gone, the whole burn thing is now, nothing is ever going to be the same.

MN: Yeah, scary things are coming.

MS: Now I just want to point out for the record, uh, when I watched the show, it may just be an error of editing, but when Jeffrey looks back at Victor on the ground, Victor’s in a slightly different position he was in when he got shot.

BC: Hmmmmmm.

MS: I’m not saying, I’m just saying…

MN: I think, I think you were totally set up for a post jump the shark episode where robot Victor come back. (laughter) Uh, we are very, we’ve already written the robot Victor episodes and uh, but we really have to squander all of our credibility before we do that. (laughter)

MS: I’m not playing any more robots, been there, done that, forget it. (laughter)

MN: All right, well, thank you very much.

MS: Thanks Matt Nix!

BC: Guys, it’s been a pleasure, thank you Matt!

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1 thought on “Special Feature: Burn Notice Commentary Transcript”

  1. The transcript is wonderful! Daniel4ever did a great job! And, I like the extra touch with the screencaps. Thanks!

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