Bri Castellini: How My ‘Burn Notice’ Podcast Made Me a Better TV Writer

TVWriter™ fave indie filmmaker, Bri Castellini, has turned her talents to several creative arenas, and she has impressed us every time. It’s with true joy that we present this article on her ongoing  – highly successful – experience with podcasting.

by Bri Castellini

We started “Burn, Noticed,” a weekly rewatch podcast for the late 00’s USA television show “Burn Notice,” as a joke. I tweeted the title of what is now a two-year-old show spanning 73 episodes because the concept of a podcast about “Burn Notice” was funny enough to me, let alone a “Burn Notice” recap podcast called Burn, Noticed.

Then, as I so often do, I bullied my dear friend Christine Cherry into doing it with me, and despite all odds it has become one of the most creatively fulfilling projects I’ve been a part of since we started it back in July, 2019. Not only that, but exhaustively recapping and analyzing this Miami-based spy procedural has actually made me a more thoughtful TV writer.

It’s all in the details.

We rate every episode of “Burn Notice” as either a) an episode of television, b) a great episode of television, or c) a great episode of “Burn Notice”—C is not mutually exclusive to A or B, and has its own set of rules (the spy voiceover needs to have a least five distinct, practical tips for even laypeople like Chris and I, Michael Westen needs to unveil a new alias, etc. etc.), but the difference between A and B is more subtle. Usually, what keeps an episode of television from being great is how detailed both the individual scenes and the overall plot threads are.

When I say, “It’s all in the details,” what I mean is that there should be no throwaway beats or moments; if Michael Westen is pretending to be a criminal to ingratiate himself with a crime boss he’s trying to take down, he can either be a generic, unnamed loan shark who yells a lot or he can be Trey, a loan shark who uses a lot of idioms but just a little bit wrong. “It’s like getting juice from a stone” is one of my favorites.

Are the incorrect idioms important to the overall plot/case of the week? Not at all. But they elevate every scene they’re in, turning what would otherwise be perfunctory exposition dumps into a memorable exchange between two characters with distinct points of view. It’s not new to write an episode of a procedural about a fishy loan shark (pun intended), so what sets it apart is all in … the details.

The weirder/more specific, the more memorable, and as a writer currently seeking representation and paid opportunities, the more memorable my scripts can be even when exposition-dumping, the better….

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