There are genre formulas. If you’ve watched network police procedurals, medical dramas, or nighttime soaps, you know this. Now, with branding so critical in the age of a zillion TV channels, many channels have developed their own distinct formulas, too. Think Bravo, whose every series seems to feature impossibly superficial people, fabulous furniture, and fast editing; think TLC, with its carny freak atmosphere.
And think USA, which has become the sunny caper channel. With dramedies such as “White Collar,” “Psych,” and “Royal Pains,” USA has created a distinctively chipper line of shows. The plots are breezy, the locations are vivid, the sky is blue, and the bad guys aren’t particularly scary. The writing must be only moderately ambitious — it cannot exceed that.