By Ken Tucker
Updated June 05, 2009 at 07:37 AM EDT

Burn Notice came back with a fine third-season opener written by creator Matt Nix entitled “Family and Friends.” When a TV series gets back to its basics, when the people working on it say to themselves, in effect, “Hey, you know that stuff we did the first season? That worked, and we’ve gotten away from that” — that’s when you get some satisfying TV. Burn Notice did exactly that. There was a lot of BN trademark stuff: Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael Weston making disguises and weapons out of ordinary stuff at hand (love that briefcase tricked out with a knife); Michael goofing around with Fiona and Sam while obsessively scarfing down yogurt, Michael throwing a lot of elbows and bashing bad guys in well-choreographed fight scenes. (Tim Matheson, whom BN fans remember as playing Larry, directed this episode.) Call me a simple man, but I’ll take that over the fancy shimmying on So You Think You Can Dance or new crap like The Listener any day.

At first, it seemed as though Michael Weston was back at square one: “You’re as burned as ever,” as Sam put it. Yes, he’d rid himself of the “Management” group that had been bedevilling him last season (and which became too intrusive and action-slowing, for my taste). But he’s still taking on clients; he’s still being betrayed regularly. (I was glad that guy Harlan doesn’t look as though he’ll become a regular; I like that actor, Brian Van Holt, but I want my core characters. As Michael’s mom said, “You three need to stick together.”)

It was a little odd that the episode’s main villain, the big bad rich guy with the most to lose, was overshadowed by his henchman, but when that henchman is played by the fantastic character actor Jeff Kober, just about anyone in the frame is going to be upstaged.

Next week, we meet Michael’s new ongoing nemesis, a Miami cop, Det. Paxson, but I’m not giving anything else away.

No, I want to know what you thought: Did you watch the Burn Notice season premiere? Did you like it? Does it seem like an improvement on last season? Let me know; thanks.