Summer is a tough time for fans of serialized television. The landscape is pockmarked with cheapo reality shows ("America's Got Talent"? -- I think not) and uninteresting Lifetime fare ("Army Wives" doesn't float my boat).
But this summer, emerging from the murky mists of off-season TV, comes a new show: "Burn Notice."
Airing on USA, "Burn Notice" is a nouveau "Magnum, P.I." crossed with a Guy Ritchie flick. It follows Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), a smart-assed spy who's just been blacklisted ("burned") by his government employer. Westen is dropped in Miami -- his hometown -- and given ambiguous orders to stay put. With no money, no job, no credit history and no prospects, he hooks up with an ex-girlfriend, Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), and a retired spy buddy, Sam (the always awesome Bruce Campbell), to hack through private investigator jobs.
Westen's spy pedigree makes him overqualified for the meager investigations he's forced to run, but that's part of the fun. Run-ins with low-rent criminals and kingpins who overestimate their own intelligence set Westen up for Whedon-esque comebacks. Couple the sarcasm with Westen's inability to ignore the underdog, and you've got one of the best lead characters around.
New episodes of "Burn Notice" air Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA.