Years ago, Calvin Trillin suggested that a good political slogan was "Never Been Indicted." I feel similarly about "Burn Notice." Even though its second season, beginning Thursday on USA, is an improvement over the first, I still end up thinking, "Not the worst show." Or, "Roughly the same quality as 'In Plain Sight,' maybe."
In the two new episodes I've seen, the series has settled nicely into some things, particularly Michael's relationships with his sleazeball buddy Sam (Bruce Campbell) and with his mother (Sharon Gless). in fact, some of the best scenes involve Michael and his mom; Gless has a really good combination of abrasiveness and vulnerability.
And the show is moving along the who-burned-Michael story, as he has to deal with a mysterious new handler, Carla (Tricia Helfer). By the way, for you "BSG" fans who just want to, uh, admire Helfer, she's not onscreen until the last scene of the "Burn Notice" season premiere. She has more to do in the second episode.
I like Jeffrey Donovan well enough as Michael; he's convincing as a good guy -- though not too good, since it's perfectly plausible when Michael has to show an unscrupulous, nearly villainous streak. And I enjoy the little how-tos along the way, although I don't think I'll never to kill someone with nitrogen.
So, as I said, I don't mind watching. But neither am I likely to flip through my onscreen channel guide and think, "Hey, 'Burn Notice' is on," let alone set the DVR to get it automatically.
It's just a little too slick, for one thing. Michael seems to have very little trouble infiltrating groups (a drug gang in the second-season premiere) or offices (a security company). And his friend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) bothers me, both as a character and in the way she looks as if she had very serious work done on her face.
So I'm just not all that amped up one way or another about the show. On one of those nights when I can't sleep, if I happened across it, I could spend an hour. But that's the TV equivalent of "never been indicted."