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Setting for USA Network's terrific 'Burn Notice' evokes memories of way-cool 'Miami Vice'

To those dweeby guys still walking around in pastel shirts and sockless loafers, dreams of Don Johnson dancing in their heads, this will sound like heresy.

But a new show is ready to take the title as coolest Miami TV series: USA's Burn Notice.

As the sorta funny, sorta action-y sleeper hit returns for its second season at 10 p.m. Thursday, I've got three reasons it's the hippest show about the Magic City since Sonny Crockett ditched his hair gel:

Michael Westen, played by Jeffrey Donovan, above — Stuck in Miami after someone issued a "burn notice" ruining his reputation, Westen is a savvy, talkative superspy with a soft spot for hard luck stories and a knack for predicting his opponent's next move. As the new season starts, he's manipulated by a beautiful, impossibly savvy "handler" named Carla, who seems connected to whoever burned him.

Bruce Campbell — Known as the king of B-level movies and TV (Evil Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.), lately Campbell has made a sideline of stealing scenes in support roles (he's the annoying announcer, annoying waiter and annoying usher in pal Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies). Here, he's Westen's boozy, on-the-make, ex-Navy SEAL pal Sam Axe. Every great spy series needs a good sidekick, and Campbell always delivers.

The ladies — No Miami series would be complete without pretty women, and Gabrielle Anwar's saucy sidekick Fiona Glenanne — Westen's ex-girlfriend and a former IRA operative — combines intoxicating beauty with a taste for mayhem. Toss in Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer as Carla, and you have two more reasons to miss ER reruns on Thursday nights.

TiVo

The Office Webisodes, 3 p.m. Thursdays, NBC.com: Usually, the term "Webisode" is French for "boring stuff we cut out of regular episodes." But the bite-size bits of hilarity that begin streaming this week play like a live-action Dilbert cartoon. Hapless Kevin (Brian Baumgartner) lies about a bank loan for an ice cream parlor so he can pay off a bookie. The blank look Baumgartner gives the loan officer when asked why he keeps emphasizing the business' "mobile component" is worth firing up your Web browser all by itself.

Coming Home: When Parents Return From War,

9 tonight, Nickelodeon: The heart-wrencher here isn't the kids talking about the moment they knew a parent wasn't coming home. Instead, it's the mother in tears lamenting how her soldier husband's mental issues brought "a whole lot of Iraq" into her kids' lives. We also see the daughter who wishes for her "old mommy" when her mother returns with post traumatic stress disorder and the son who wonders if his dad will ever play soccer with him again when his father loses a leg in a rocket attack.

Ti-NO

Stargate Atlantis, 10 p.m. Friday, Sci Fi: This Sci Fi channel spinoff from a spinoff of a cult film is turning into a Home for Old Science Fiction Actors. Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager) and Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise) re-enact plots that could have been lifted from an old Next Generation episode. When did TV sci fi get so predictable?

the list

Local TV audiences seem to love Fox this summer. A look at the 10 highest-rated prime time shows in the Tampa Bay area for the week of June 23, provided by Nielsen Media Research, shows five programs on WTVT-Ch. 13, fueled by Fox's hit So You Think You Can Dance. Here's a partial list:

1. So You Think You Can Dance, June 25, WTVT, 225,000 viewers.

2. So You Think You Can Dance, June 26, WTVT, 209,000 viewers.

3. The Fox13 10:00 News, June 26, WTVT, 207,000 viewers.

4. America's Got Talent, June 24, WFLA-Ch. 8, 195,000 viewers.

5. Celebrity Family Feud, June 25, WFLA, 179,000 viewers.

Setting for USA Network's terrific 'Burn Notice' evokes memories of way-cool 'Miami Vice' 07/05/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 6, 2008 1:09am]
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