What off-season?

Five quality shows running right now

Burn Notice (USA, Thursdays, 9 p.m.) Now in its third season, this breezy spy drama has developed a level of character complexity slowly over time, nicely complementing its standalone stories of ex-spook Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) helping ordinary folks. It’s got humor, action and solid acting all around, and you can pretty much jump in any time and catch up.

Better Off Ted (ABC, Tuesdays, 9:30 p.m.) Unexpectedly renewed for a second season, this quirky, sneakily subversive workplace sitcom is running new episodes over the summer before returning in 2010. It’s a hilarious mix of sitcom conventions, corporate satire and overt weirdness, with a great performance by Portia de Rossi as the world’s most unfeeling boss.

Kings (NBC, Saturdays, 8 p.m.) Casually discarded after earning dismal ratings in its first few airings, this complex, lavishly produced alternate-history drama is playing out its first and only season over the next several weeks. Based on biblical tales but far from preachy, Kings is a grandiose, beautiful mix of sci-fi, soap opera and classical drama, too unclassifiable for mass audiences but perfect for people who prefer their TV shows with layers.

The Closer (TBS, Mondays, 9 p.m.)TBS’ veteran procedural has had its ups and downs, but even when its week-to-week mysteries aren’t compelling, the diverse cast of characters carries the show. After last season’s sometimes silly build-up to LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson’s wedding, the show has a new status quo with plenty of potential, and a whole slew of new murders to solve.

Ideal (IFC, Sundays, 11:30 p.m.) This British import about the world’s saddest drug dealer is dark in the extreme and rather claustrophobic (the entire show takes place in lead character Moz’s apartment), but it’s also absurdly funny and casually daring, besting most of the supposedly edgy comedies on American cable.


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