'Burn Notice' Returns with Pleasures and Frustrations Intact

A good formula can be a show's salvation. It can also start to seem, after a while, like an albatross. 

The flashbacks that 'Lost' employed seemed so clever when the show began. Of course, midway through season 3, they started to grate when they were clearly being used to stall for time. 'Lost' was able to pull out of that slump, though, by changing up the game plan and finding new and different ways to remix and reconfigure its storytelling elements. As the flashes evolved, so did the show. 

'Burn Notice,' which returns 10PM ET Thursday on USA, doesn't copy 'Lost's' formula, which a a dozen island experts could never codify even if they wanted to. In any case, 'Burn Notice' is comfortable telling fairly straightforward Robin Hood tales about Michael Westen and his merry little band of justice-dispensers. 

Still, as was the case with 'Lost' circa early 2007, a formerly enjoyable central element of the show has begun to feel like a muddled, repetitive afterthought.

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