They go with summer like baseball and Cracker Jack. Six-packs and barbecues. The binoculars you got when you were 13 and the divorcee next door’s liberal definition of swimwear.
They’re USA’s “Burn Notice” (9 p.m. Thursdays) and “Royal Pains” (10 p.m. Thursdays), and they just may be the perfect summer series.
In case you’ve missed the first two seasons of some of the most fun that’s allowed on TV, “Burn Notice” follows former spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who’s been marooned in Miami — with its sparkling pools, postcard-perfect beaches and clingy little dresses that almost cover co-star Gabrielle Anwar — until he can restore his good name.
Thursday’s premiere picks up where last season’s finale left off, with Michael realizing that now that he’s out from under the shadowy organization that blacklisted him, he’s also no longer under their protection. Suddenly his whereabouts are common knowledge to every spy or government he’s ever crossed — or double- or triple-crossed.
He also turns up on the radar of a sexy police detective (Moon Bloodgood) who’s looking into his two-season trail of mayhem — all in the name of helping the helpless, mind you — throughout South Florida. And if Tricia Helfer’s guest appearances last season proved anything, it’s that TV’s coolest leading man is somehow even cooler when he’s confronting a hot adversary.
“Royal Pains,” meanwhile, not only feels like summer, with its long walks on the beach and surfside clam shacks, it takes place in a world that only exists in summer.
Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) is dumped by his hospital and his fiancee after a wealthy donor dies while Hank’s saving a more critical patient. Blackballed from every major trauma center, Hank spends the next several weeks hiding from the world like he’d just gotten Kate Gosselin’s haircut.
“It smells like a moose had sex with a bucket of Chinese food in here,” his brother Evan (Paul Costanzo) declares during a visit to Hank’s now rancid loft. “And you kind of look like Jesus and Patrick Dempsey had a child, and that child grew older and then got really sick.”
Evan’s there to drag Hank back among the living with a Memorial Day trip to the Hamptons. And much like their weekend, the series really doesn’t get interesting until they get out of the city.
There’s a fun, anything-can-happen vibe once they hit the swanky enclave, mostly thanks to the scheming Evan. Because even while crashing a lavish party that would have rivaled Chuck Bass’ Sweet 16 bash, Hank’s a regular Johnny Wetblanket. “I have no money,” he tells one of the irrationally high number of women who hit on him, “no job, and my Saab is older than you.”
Hank eventually saves the life of a party guest and becomes the hit of the Hamptons. But despite the fact that he has mounting debts and fewer job prospects than the cast of “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!,” he spends the rest of the weekend rejecting models, job offers and untold riches at every turn.
In fact, Hank spends so much of Thursday’s premiere turning down work as a concierge doctor, a private, on-call physician to the wealthy, that you may find yourself wanting to shake him and scream, “Dude! I’ve seen the promos! The show’s about a concierge doctor, so just take the job already!”
But when a cute hospital administrator catches his eye, Hank finally loosens up, accepts his fate and moves into a German duke’s guesthouse, setting the stage for a summer of fun.
In case neither of those sounds like what you’re looking for, but you still want to spend your summer the way God intended — indoors, in front of the air conditioner, with a bag of ice in your lap and popsicles under each arm — here’s a look at some of cable’s other warm-weather offerings:
• TNT has new seasons of “The Closer” (9 p.m. June 8), “Raising the Bar” (10 p.m. June 8), “Saving Grace” (10 p.m. June 16) and “Leverage” (9 p.m. July 15). It’s also adding the Jada Pinkett Smith nursing drama “Hawthorne” (9 p.m. June 16) and “Dark Blue” (10 p.m. July 15), an undercover cop drama starring Dylan McDermott.
• HBO has another season of “True Blood” (9 p.m. June 14) and will introduce “Hung” (10 p.m. June 28), with Thomas Jane as a well-endowed-but-down-on-his-luck high school basketball coach.
• Showtime has new episodes of “Weeds” (10 p.m. June 8) and the new Edie Falco comedy “Nurse Jackie” (10:30 p.m. June 8).
• Sci Fi has fresh installments of “Eureka” (9 p.m. July 10) as well as the new series “Warehouse 13” (9 p.m. July 7), about the secret location housing every strange relic the government has ever collected.
• Lifetime is bringing back “Army Wives” (10 p.m. June 7).
• and A&E will have more episodes of Benjamin Bratt’s “The Cleaner” (10 p.m. June 23).
Christopher Lawrence’s Life on the Couch column appears on Sundays. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Elsewhere
The judges will narrow the field of contestants down to the final 20 during the Vegas callback round on “So You Think You Can Dance” (8 p.m. Wednesday and 9 p.m. Thursday, KVVU-TV, Channel 5).