While USA Network certainly was no stranger to original scripted programming (classics La Femme Nikita and Pacific Blue quickly come to mind), the last couple of years have seen them have an excellent track record in developing hit, quality television. Though not as barrier busting as FX or AMC, USA takes its “Characters Welcome” slogan and runs with it in various light, fun, and just plain enjoyable shows.
While USA also has done well with more serious fare like The 4400, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and In Plain Sight, their lighter dramas and comedies have been the ones to really hit home.
Monk finished its highly successful eight season run last month to record ratings. Not only that, it got Tony Shalhoub three Emmys. In 2006, they premiered buddy crime dramedy Psych starring James Roday and Dule Hill. In 2007 came the witty action/drama Burn Notice starring USA alum Jeffrey Donovan. Last year, USA premiered the huge hit Royal Pains and likewise well-received White Collar.
After keeping their original series on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays the last decade, USA is branching out even more starting tonight as for the first time, they will have an original series on each of three nights during the week at 10pm.
White Collar returns for the 2nd half of its premiere season tonight and airs Tuesdays. Wednesdays will belong to season 4.5 of Psych and Thursdays sees the return of Burn Notice on its regular night with season 3.5.
It is a great move for USA that allows them to expand their programming possibilities, especially as they have ordered several more new pilots, as well as minimize season breaks for their shows, which could result in USA having original programs year-round.
As for the three series returning this week, each of them brings the fun in their own distinct ways. While you can spot the awesome buddy comedy/chemistry in each of them, they all take the procedural and put a fresh spin on it.
White Collar, about an FBI agent now working with the very white collar con-man he tracked three years to capture, is able to enter the world of the elite, a world where million dollar paintings and priceless artifacts are what the criminals go after, a world of luxury. Mix in the dynamic between special agent and wife and the on-going search for the con-man, now government employee’s love of his life, you’ve got a fun, enjoyable show. And the cliffhanger from the midseason finale is sure to be the launching pad for an exciting 7 episodes.
Psych takes crime-solving and buddy comedy to the next level. Our hero’s “heightened observational skills,” interpreted as psychic abilities by others, add that quirky extra that sets it apart from the usual cop series.
Burn Notice uses its Miami setting to its highest potential. Sexy, smooth, breezy espionage, with its charismatic protagonist have made it the hit that it is.
If you’re looking for something to watch at 10pm Tuesday through Thursday, USA Network would be a great place to start, and the way things are going for them, it might be a great destination for a long time.
WHITE COLLAR airs Tuesdays at 10pm, PSYCH airs Wednesdays at 10pm, and BURN NOTICE airs Thursdays at 10pm all on USA Network… Characters Welcome.