Question: A TV show that (almost) fills the void left by my dearly departed Alias, USA's Burn Notice has become my new favorite show. While it's not as flashy as Alias, and the twists and turns not nearly as breathtaking, it does manage to seamlessly blend the best of all worlds: action, comedy, espionage, sexual tension, family dramedy, escapade-of-the week storylines and a series-spanning mystery to solve (who put out the "burn notice" on Michael and why). It's as if someone threw Alias, Moonlighting, CSI: Miami and MacGyver into the spin cycle and out popped Burn Notice. Jeffrey Donovan, whom I only remembered as the smarmy client in Hitch, delivers such a charmingly witty performance as burned CIA operative Michael Weston. The spectacular casting of his cohorts — bold-n-brassy yet sexy former-IRA assassin (Gabrielle Anwar), washed-up alcoholic ex-spook with uncertain loyalties (Bruce Campbell), not to mention his formerly estranged, not-as-helpless-as-she-seems mother (the magnificent Sharon Gless) — give Donovan some of the best straight-man moments I can recall in recent TV history. And getting back to the overall series mystery, maybe I've just watched too much Alias, but wouldn't it be interesting if somehow it turned out that Michael's father is actually alive and had something to do with the burn notice? Maybe that's too long a limb to climb out on. In any event I am just excited to have a fun show, finally, that I look forward to each week with eager anticipation. It seems to me that USA Network is becoming quite an original-series contender, throwing this new entry into the foray alongside Monk and Psych. What do you think?
Answer: I've covered some of this ground before, but it can't hurt to reiterate, while we're on the subject of summer TV, what a pleasant surprise Burn Notice has turned out to be. (Especially given the fact that I too hastily dismissed it when I first reviewed it in late June.) I think I prefer Psych most weeks, which for some reason really tickles me, and I wish Burn Notice would ramp up the tension a bit at times. But USA Network truly has created a niche with these lighthearted crime comedy-dramas, and finding a way to expand the franchise into the spy world was undeniably smart. This one's a keeper.