A while back, while announcing the season premieres for 'Burn Notice' and 'Royal Pains', I briefly mentioned the reason why these original USA network programs, as well as their other offerings, work so well. As I thought about it some more, I realized that it wasn't just the focus on characters and the mix of comedy and drama that made these shows click with audiences. There was more to it. In fact, three more 'its' to make a TV Squad list. How's that for ironic!
So, if you'll indulge me for a moment, here are the five things that make USA network shows resonate with viewers.
1. Actual character-driven shows -- When USA uses the tag line "Characters Welcome" they aren't kidding. Every original program since 'Monk' has been character driven. They haven't relied on special effects, or musicals, or unanswered questions that, when answered, produced more unanswered questions. It's characters that drive the shows and move them forward.
(S01E01) USA Network likes to remind us that characters are welcome. Thankfully, that's not just a slogan, as all of their shows actually do have great lead characters. And this holds true for the latest light comedy-action drama White Collar.
Sure, there's similar DNA that runs though a lot of the USA shows. Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and White Collar all have a similar setup and feel to them, but when the shows are actually good (like all of these shows are) that's not a problem. I don't know if there's anything "deep" about this show, but it's entertaining as hell.
(S01E01) Never ever, ever go into work on your day off. It could just cost you your job. Especially if in doing so, the man who's name on the building dies and it in any way can be blamed on you. Just a friendly tip from the blogosphere. In these tough economic times, because I just had to start an article about a show set in the Hamptons with that, there's nothing better for people struggling to make ends meet than a show about people whose biggest struggle is ... well nothing, really.
I went into this show kind of expecting to be too annoyed by the fact that it's in the Hamptons to enjoy it, but dammit, I really started liking it. A big part of that is thanks to the dynamic between Mark Fuerstein and Paulo Costanza. Fuerstein, as Hank Lawson, is our lead who did the whole guy dying losing his job thing. And Constanza as his brother Evan, is the kind of guy who can breeze into a German Consulate's party with a bad accent and a fake ID.
Just in time for tonight's second season premiere of Burn Notice comes this little piece of news from the studios at NBC.
Two guys on the staff of Late Night with Conan O'Brien are so ticked off at the ads for the USA show (USA is part of the NBC Universal family) that appear in the building that they decided to deface them. The insults range from dialogue bubbles that say "It 'Burns' when I pee" and "Thanks for the 'Notice' " to this entry on the Late Night blog where the staffers complain about the ads and explain their actions. It is kinda funny how many of these ads NBC puts in their own building.
Of course, the blog entry isn't all bad and acts as a nudge-nudge wink-wink push for the show. Despite the graffiti, the Late Night guys do say that the show is "awesome," "smart," and "funny," and they even want to make sure you watch the show tonight. (And I'd like to repeat that too - watch Burn Notice tonight at 10 on USA!)
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