Make us your home page

Why USA Network's 'Burn Notice' and 'Royal Pains' are soul mates

Burn Notice Royal Pains
An isolated hero Glib-but-effective superspy Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) is stuck in his Miami hometown after a "burn notice" was issued, revoking his espionage credentials and trapping him in the city. As this season begins, Westen has turned down an offer of employment by the people who burned him, prompting them to sic the police on him. Glib-but-effective doctor Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) loses his promising medical career after a hospital bigwig dies under his care, eventually leaving as his only employment option serving as a private physician, or "concierge doctor," for the super wealthy in the Hamptons. As the season begins, Lawson turns down a job offer from one wealthy socialite, only to find a flood of others beating down his door.
A soft spot for charity cases Though he tries to avoid it, Westen passes the time in Miami by helping needy folks who require the skills of an out-of-work spy. This season, that means helping rescue a kidnapped child from a brutal jewel thief, helping a woman free her father from a Venezuelan jail and dealing with an old pal who tries to make him steal weapons technology. After saving a woman's life at a party, Lawson tries to avoid a deluge of wealthy egocentrics who demand his services. But he finds their emergencies — from a hemophiliac rich kid in a shattered Ferrari to a socialite with an uneven breast augmentation — too compelling to avoid.
Eccentric sidekicks

Westen pulls off his missions backed by a team of oddball buddies, including a former girlfriend and fellow superspy who still loves him (Gabrielle Anwar), a washed-out intelligence agent pal (Bruce Campbell) and his possessive mom (Sharon Gless).

Lawson pulls off his medical work backed by a team of oddball buddies, including his lecherous accountant brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo), a superorganized Hamptons veteran as his assistant (Reshma Shetty) and a beautiful hospital administrator (Jill Flint) who helps him open a medical clinic.

A MacGyver-style knack for using found objects Westen's knack for turning everyday items into weapons or way-cool spy devices is legend. This season, he turns a few wires and a potato chip can into an antenna for sending Bluetooth signals long-range. Lawson saves a kid with blood filling the sac around his heart using a pen, sandwich bag, knife and roll of duct tape. Even Westen couldn't pull off a stunt like that.

On the surface, there wouldn't seem much connection between a quirky action-adventure show about a spy trapped in Miami and a sly comedy about a doctor forced to serve as a personal physician to the wealthy in the Hamptons. • But USA Network has crafted a new series, Royal Pains, that is a spiritual clone of the cable channel's popular series about wayward spy Michael Westen, Miami-based Burn Notice. • Let's see how the old show (returning at 9 p.m. Thursday) and the new show (debuting at 10 p.m. Thursday) stack up:


The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien, debuts at 11:35 p.m. Monday on WFLA-Ch.8: NBC's carrot-topped silly man has moved West to a glitzy, art deco-style studio on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles, succeeding Jay Leno as the fifth host in the 55-year-old Tonight Show's history. Old sidekick Andy Richter is announcing and his Late Night band is on hand to provide an amped-up theme. But every critic tempted to predict his quick demise should remember a few things: O'Brien's a lot smarter than the guy he plays on TV, and he's already defied one prediction of failure (though it took him two years to make his 12:30 p.m. Late Night show watchable). Let's hope it doesn't take that long this time.


The Listener, debuts at 10 p.m. Thursday on WFLA: Imported from Canada, this improbable series about a paramedic who can read minds is made watchable only by its star, earnest, moon-eyed Craig Olejnik. As he uses his talent to recover a missing boy and save another troubled teen from the street life, you'll be too distracted wondering why Olejnik's character drives the streets like a cop on patrol, searching out predictable adventures like a new-school T.J. Hooker.

the list

The coolest Web site I've seen recently resides on (search "Tracy Morgan").

The site lists everything Morgan's oddball movie star character Tracy Jordan has ever said on NBC's sidesplitting comedy 30 Rock (often to Jack McBrayer's overly optimistic intern Kenneth Parcell). And because so many of Jordan's lines are non sequiturs anyway, reading it all at once is a comedy experience like no other.

Here's a sample:

. "I haven't seen Oprah since she did that episode about the worst celebrity dads."

. "There's no link between diabetes and diet. That's a white myth, Ken. Like Larry Bird or Colorado."

. "I don't gotta prenup. When Angie and I got married, my only assets were a toaster oven and two tickets to a Young MC concert."

. "I hate to see you like this, Ken Doll. It's like an owl without a graduation cap. Heartbreaking!"

. "I went out with the interns. Those white boys are not kidding around. Have you ever tasted scotch? It's terrible! And this thing they call 'box seats at the Rangers game,' it's so cold. And what is Rohypnol?"

. "Ken, these interns are wearing me out. It's like I said in my non-hit comedy Cruise Boat, 'I'm getting too old for this ship.' "

. "Do you know what happens to a comedian when he gets old and loses his audience? He starts to get offered serious roles. And do you really want to see me play Arthur Ashe?"

Why USA Network's 'Burn Notice' and 'Royal Pains' are soul mates 05/30/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 30, 2009 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours