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April 16, 2014

MichaelWesten

Five Ingredients That Make USA Network Shows Work

by Rich Keller, posted Apr 14th 2010 3:11PM
The character-driven shows of USA Network...'Burn Notice,' 'Royal Pains,' and 'Psych'
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.

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Madeline Westen Slaps a Cop on 'Burn Notice' (VIDEO)

by Jane Boursaw, posted Mar 5th 2010 2:46AM
Burn Notice, Madeline Weston, Sharon Gless"If Michael wanted to kill you, you'd be dead." Right on, sister. If we ever land in the slammer for any reason, we want Madeline Westen as our wing man, er, mother. Because we know she'll stand by us through thick and thin, talk back to the cops, and even slap one if necessary.

Madeline may have no idea what her son is up to on 'Burn Notice' (Thu., 10PM ET on USA), but she's ready to take the fall for him. Or send the cops on a wild goose chase to the Sawgrass Mills Mall. That works, too.

Watch the video after the jump.

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'Burn Notice' - 'Devil You Know' Recap (Season Finale)

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 5th 2010 1:57AM
burn_notice_michael_fiona_season_finale
(S03E16)
If you wonder where the excitement is in entertainment, you're probably not watching 'Burn Notice.' However, if you're reading this review, you probably are a watcher and you have just gorged yourself on what was mostly called a season finale.

In some ways, it was a typical 'Burn Notice' finale, leaving Michael in a seemingly puzzling situation. This was ranked up there with one of the more intriguing ones. It was everything creator Matt Nix promised it would be. More on that, the client named Simon, and how to hot-wire a jet ski after the jump.

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'Burn Notice' - 'Partners In Crime' Recap

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 12th 2010 1:38AM
burn_notice_sam_michael_usa_network
(S03E13)
'Burn Notice' is generally more serious dealing with spy business than a show like 'Chuck', which is more playful. There's more blood on 'Burn Notice,' and the killing is not done to popular music. Both shows are fun, but for a tougher brand of espionage, 'Burn Notice' is the way to go.

This was one of the better 'Burn Notice' episodes because it put Michael somewhere he hasn't been in a while -- a very vulnerable position. And Larry was back. You remember Larry, played with menacing lunacy by Tim Matheson? More on Larry, the Colombian cartel, Jack Fleetwood and -- oh yeah -- Michael's brother, too, after the jump.

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Review: 'Burn Notice' - 'Noble Causes'

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 5th 2010 12:45AM
burn_notice_car_usa_network
(S03E12)
Does Michael Weston work and play well with others? Umm, not really. He prefers being at the controls and calling the shots. Have you noticed that with Fiona and Sam, Michael is usually the de facto lead? And remember how he disliked working for Carla? Hence this relationship with Gilroy is problematic to say the least. This week was an example of just how difficult it's likely to be.

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Review: Burn Notice - Friendly Fire

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 29th 2010 2:05AM
burn_notice_chris_vance_jeffrey_donovan
(S03E11)
For a nice change of pace, Burn Notice played up the local color. Lots of Little Dominica (not Little Havana) and action, including multiple explosions, a little face-forward repelling and a new somewhat mystical character for Michael to play. No Southern boy this week. No tank tops or muscle shirts. Nope. Michael was looking like Mr. Applegate, the devil in the musical Damn Yankees.

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Review: Burn Notice - A Dark Road (mid-season premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 22nd 2010 3:00AM
burn_notice_cast_carlito_cafe_usa
(S03E10)
"People get hurt and things get complicated no matter what you do." - Fiona

Welcome back, Burn Notice. We've missed you. The story picked up a day or two after the resolution of the Strickler thing, with Fiona still on the mend and Michael more than a little miffed by the missed opportunity to get back in the spy game. And if sore feelings and healing wounds weren't painful enough, there's a new threat for Michael.

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Burn Notice: Long Way Back (summer finale)

by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 7th 2009 1:43AM
Sam_Fiona_Burn_Notice

(S03E09)
Wow! Talk about a powerful finale. There were a lot of plot points and emotional issues addressed, and if you had any question about Michael's true loyalty, this show answered it. Burn Notice goes on hiatus -- is that what they call it? -- till the winter, and it's going to be a long rest of the summer and fall waiting for the story to resume. There was change in the air, what with Michael inching closer to a return to the CIA -- or so it seemed. More on all that and the blistering finale after the jump.

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Burn Notice: Friends Like These

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 31st 2009 3:02AM
Mike_Sam_Burn_Notice_USA

(S03E08)
In the latest Michael adventure, our hero was hell-bent on getting back into intelligence work – nothing new, really. However, that meant dancing with Strickler, a foxtrot that Fiona was reluctant to take part in ...

More on Fiona's vulnerabilities after the jump. Meanwhile, another job popped up when Barry, money launderer and occasional member of the Michael troupe of operatives, called in all his favors and became the client.

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Burn Notice: Shot in the Dark

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 24th 2009 10:02AM
burn_notice_shenkman_donovan
(S03E07) Burn Notice
usually stays on the fun side of spying. This episode was all about getting back to doing a Robin Hood job, and since it tapped into Michael's psychology so perfectly, it added a good dollop of emotion to the fun.

And there was also that preview from last week that left fans gasping. Was one of the gang of three going down? Fortunately, in the world of spoilers and such, if that were true it would have been all over the net. Fortunately, it was all part of the con. More on that after the jump.

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Burn Notice: The Hunter

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 17th 2009 7:55AM
Burn Notice(S03E06) It seems like this season of Burn Notice has been all about friends and family. You know, like the cell phone deal. Michael has been relying more and more on family -- and yes, that means Fiona and Sam to me -- and picking up new friends week in and week out. As Michael has pointed out a few times, he's more valuable as a friend than an enemy. By the time we reach the end of the summer, Michael may have to throw a party to celebrate the new friendships he's made.

We also now know what can stop Michael Westen in his tracks; a Taser to the neck. Yes, for one of the few times, bad guys got the jump on Michael and he was snatched.

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Burn Notice: Fearless Leader

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 26th 2009 9:33AM
Michael_Burn_Notice_Jeffrey_Donovan(S03E04) That pesky Detective Paxson of the Miami PD continued to be a thorn in Michael's side, to the point that Michael decided it was time to extract her from his life. To get Paxson -- one royal pain in the butt who doesn't believe that Michael's one of the good guys -- Michael concocts a plan to help her close her case against Rick Matheson, a real bad guy.

Matheson was a one-note Rock look-alike, without Dwayne Johnson's charm. Mostly Matheson was a scumbag who deserved to be brought down.

Tommy, on the other hand, wasn't really a nasty moke. He was broadly hammed up by former NYPD Blue star Nick Turturro, and turned out to be Michael's way into Matheson's organization.

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Burn Notice: End Run

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 19th 2009 9:24AM
Fiona_Michae_episodic_Burn_Notice
(S03E03)
It seems as though everyone wants to be Michael's boss. Everyone but the CIA or the NSA or some other international spy agency, including whatever organization burned him in the first place. But characters like Carla last season or the rogue Management group at the start of this season, as well as Brennen, tonight's guest handler, they're all for Michael.

Seth Peterson was back as Nate, Michael's brother with a propensity for great-rich-quick schemes and getting into trouble. This time, though, he was a pawn in Brennen's game to get Michael to do his bidding.

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Burn Notice: Question and Answer

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 12th 2009 9:40AM
Bruce Burn Notice(S03E02) I love Sam Axe, which is another way of saying Bruce Campbell makes watching Burn Notice a pleasure. Especially an episode like this one that was all about the chemistry between Sam and Mike when working undercover on a case with a nut job criminal intent on leaving Michael swimming in a pool of his own blood.

It's not just Sam that keeps me coming back for more from this show, or the tense but compelling subtext between Fiona and Michael's "is it love?" relationship. By and large, Burn Notice is smart TV. It shows me scenes I haven't seen before on other shows or on the big screen. More on the specifics after the jump, so if you don't want to know because you haven't watched yet, be warned.

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Burn Notice: Friends and Family (season premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 5th 2009 10:27AM
Fiona and Michael Burn Notice
(S03E01)
You knew from last season's finale that Michael taking the plunge into the Atlantic from a helicopter, thus turning down an offer to work with Management in some organized ops position, he was taking a big chance. The leap was a metaphor and the danger for Michael Westen was about to increase exponentially.

Well, in this opening episode, it's clear that creator Matt Nix has upped the volume for Burn Notice. In Spinal Tap terms, we're at eleven, and that's more than ten. For Michael, a five-mile ocean swim in suit pants was just the kind of discomfort trained operatives have to learn to endure. When he landed on Miami Beach, one of the busy, bikini-clad girls and kids making sand castle types, he was all in. But no rest for the weary. In short order, Michael was on the run and in a world of trouble.

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