You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Burn Notice

In "Burn Notice," USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel's short-lived 2004 drama "Touching Evil"), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can't come in from the cold and must survive on his wits.

With:
Michael Westen - Jeffrey Donovan Fiona - Gabrielle Anwar Sam - Bruce Campbell Madeline - Sharon Gless

In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from the cold and must survive on his wits. Graced with a sly voiceover and strong supporting characters, it’s the kind of breezy romp that dovetails nicely with the cabler’s most popular fare and which manages to look more effortless than it surely is.

Donovan is Michael Westen, a resourceful spy inexplicably given a “burn notice” by his handlers that essentially severs any ties to him. As a consequence, he’s stranded in Miami without a clue as to why he’s been cut loose. In desperation, he occupies a vacant loft, turning for help to an old girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar) who has former ties to the Irish Republican Army, and a semi-retired intelligence officer pal (Bruce Campbell) whose favorite pastimes are drinking and ogling women.

Westen is even forced to interact with his nagging mom (Sharon Gless), and take a private eye-type gigwhile seeking to unravel his fall from grace.

What really sparks “Burn Notice” is Donovan’s Rockford-like mix of comedy, action and roguish charm, augmented by a dry narration through which he delivers a kind of “how-to” guide to spying — explaining his preference for fighting in bathrooms, for example, because they have “lots of hard surfaces” into which one can slam an opponent; it’s easier on the knuckles.

Donovan plays Westen with an arched eyebrow, but series creator Matt Nix adds several humanizing touches, from the spy teaching a bullied kid how to defend himself to lamenting how his well-honed combat skills haven’t equipped him to handle mom. (Bruce Willis was a producer on “Touching Evil,” and Donovan exhibits a similar flair for tossing off one-liners in between dispatching bad guys.)

The opener kicks off with a strong introductory sequence set in Nigeria, in which Westen discovers at the worst possible moment that his support system has abruptly evaporated. After that, it’s fun in the sun, prompting the fallen spook to compare his initial Miami digs to a “Girls Gone Wild” video.

USA has labored to replicate the wry rewards of “Monk” in fulfilling its “Characters welcome” campaign, and if the network can market a series graced with an understated premise and mediocre title, “Burn Notice” comes closer than most of its recent offerings to achieving that whimsical tone, featuring a leading man who lives up to the slogan — one with charisma to burn.

Burn Notice

USA, Thurs. June 28, 10 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Miami by Fox Television Studios and Fuse Entertainment. Executive producers, Mikkel Bondesen, Matt Nix; producer, Jeff Freilich; line producer, Terry Miller; director, Jace Alexander; writer, Nix.

Crew: Camera, Roy H. Wagner; editor, Casey Brown; music, John Dickson; production designer, J. Mark Harrington; casting, Wendy Weidman, Barbara Fiorentino, Rebecca Mangieri. Running time: 90 MIN.

Cast: Michael Westen - Jeffrey Donovan Fiona - Gabrielle Anwar Sam - Bruce Campbell Madeline - Sharon Gless

More TV

  • Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes -

    'Walking Dead' Star Chandler Riggs Breaks Down Emotional Midseason Premiere (SPOILERS)

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

  • THE BACHELOR - ÒThe Bachelor: The

    'The Bachelor' Recap: 6 Takeaways from 'The Women Tell All'

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

  • ATLANTA -- "Alligator Man" -- Season

    Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of Feb. 26, 2018

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

  • Fireworks light up the sky during

    TV Ratings: Winter Olympics Hit Back-to-Back Lows in Final Days

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

  • Cinema Audio Society 2018 Winners: 'Dunkirk,'

    'Dunkirk,' 'Game of Thrones' Win Cinema Audio Society Awards for Sound Mixing

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

  • 'Seven Seconds' TV show premiere

    Regina King Talks Heaviness of Role in 'Seven Seconds'

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

  • John Oliver Lawsuit Dismissed: 'Last Week

    John Oliver Victorious: Coal CEO's Defamation Suit Dismissed

    In “Burn Notice,” USA delivers a pleasant surprise, if only because so little about the concept indicates how much fun the 90-minute premiere is. Recognizing the star quality in Jeffrey Donovan (last showcased in the channel’s short-lived 2004 drama “Touching Evil”), he returns as a spy who, for unexplained reasons, suddenly can’t come in from […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content