I had a top-secret conversation with Ryan yesterday about TV shows. Amongst other things, we discussed the two shows that I am currently in the midst of, how you say, "catching up on." I am watching the first season of Prison Break and just finished the first season of Burn Notice last night and am greatly enjoying both. Ryan asked me if Burn Notice was as good as 24 or Lost. I didn't know how to answer that question. The reason? These shows are going for very different feels. 24 and Lost are all about the cliffhanger. They are designed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, craving to immediately move onto the next episode when the one before it ends. They also provide a puzzle-solving factor that keeps you glued, wondering what twists and turns will be thrown at you.
Burn Notice definitely has tension and some of that edge of your seat power, but it isn't inherently designed for that. Additionally, for as intelligent as the show is (and believe me, it is an intelligent show), there isn't the "rush" of trying to solve things before they happen or the wonderment of how this or that is possible. So, when asked if the show is as good as 24 or Lost, then I have to sit back and wonder if the "addiction factor" of 24 and Lost are required for other shows to be just as good. In the end, I still don't have an answer. The best I can say is that it is too hard to compare 24 to The Office, because both shows offer very different experiences. Similarly, Burn Notice offers a very different experience than 24, Lost, Prison Break, The Office, or Arrested Development. It is almost like a hybrid between the action oriented, espionage show and good old fashioned situational comedies. It is very smart, very funny, and just plain fun. It's not overly intense or dramatic (usually, although there are plenty of intense moments that come as the season develops), but does combine action, big explosions and all those special ingredients that make a show exciting. Also, it brings a sense of learning and enlightenment, because man is it cool (we're talking above MacGyver level cool) when the main character Michael Westen makes some awesome little gadget out of household supplies or explains how best to break into something.
The idea of an ex-spy having to take on odd-jobs around Miami to make money, using his skills in espionage but having to do so without the funds to buy the nice equipment is so appealing to me.