We gave it a B
The best reason to watch USA’s new spy drama, Burn Notice, is Jeffrey Donovan. Donovan has spent years inhabiting modest roles on shows like The Pretender and Crossing Jordan, but his best part to date was as a witty, disturbed detective on the short-lived USA drama Touching Evil. Donovan is playing a slightly glibber version of that same detective on Burn Notice, which is totally fine by me. His Michael Westen is a spy who gets ”burned” — abruptly blacklisted by the CIA. Westen returns to his hometown of Miami to pick up some odd crime-solving jobs while he tries to find his betrayer. Burn Notice employs lots of flashy cuts and way too many of those printed titles introducing each character: Barry the Launderer, Dan the Handler, Walter the Art Dealer. But it also features Donovan’s knowing narration, which is a great blend of old-school, earnest noir and new-school, smart-ass sarcasm. Donovan is backed up by a solid supporting cast, particularly Gabrielle Anwar (Scent of a Woman), playing a former girlfriend who’s ex-IRA. Together, the two blasé badasses have a nice Mr. & Mrs. Smith vibe. Add Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) as Michael’s boozy buddy and Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey) as his neurotic mom and you have a standard detective story that’s brightened by unusual characters and snazzy dialogue. Donovan should never go back to those modest roles again.