"White Collar": Mid-Season Review

12/08/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Max Tedaldi

No doubt you’ve already seen the posters for USA’s newest series, “White Collar.” They can be seen on any urban street corner or advertising space and feature the show's star and People Magazine’s “Sexiest Rising Star,” Matthew Bomer. With his “I could care less” facial hair, photo-shopped electric blue eyes, perfect hair and Devore suits complete with tie bar, Bomer’s iconic look is nothing short of eye-catching (think a young Don Draper). USA is clearly banking on Bomer’s impending star-power to anchor the show and why not? If AMC’s “Mad Men” has taught us anything, it’s that audiences are smitten by charming womanizers who dress like members of the rat-pack.

Bomer plays Neal Caffrey, a recently escaped convict who specializes in using his extensive knowledge of art and culture to swindle his way to riches, while using his charm and good looks to make his heists look good and charming. After a failed escape from prison, Caffrey finds himself working for the FBI’s White Collar crime unit under the supervision of the agent who apprehended him. Tim DeKay plays Agent Peter Burke with the perfect amount of goofiness and guile to make his character endearing yet dangerous. Each episode follows the exploits of new partnership as the duo track down art and jewelry thieves while making good use of Neal’s knowledge as a con-artist. The capers the two attempt to solve are fun and occasionally creative, but it’s really the relationship between them the makes the show worth watching. The dichotomy between crime committer and crime solver is intrinsically strained, and this makes their partnership an entertaining one, to say the least. Neal and Peter have a "Lethal Weapon" Riggs and Murtaugh relationship, but also loathe what the other one represents. Watching the two former rivals work together is a satisfying experience that is only improved by the uncomfortably comedic interactions between them.

"White Collar" is a flashy show, and for the most part, it has done an acceptable job of luring me in with its potent combination of buddy comedy and heist genres. At the close of its fall season, “White Collar” has created two dynamic characters but has failed to add any sort of dimension to its secondary cast. When Neal and Peter are on screen together, the show sizzles with excitement and humor, but removing either one from the mix is like watching a 3-D movie without the special glasses--you know exactly how much you’re missing. Never is this more apparent than when Peter leaves the office to spend time with his wife Elizabeth, played with excruciating hollowness by Tiffani Thiessen. What is undoubtedly an attempt to show Agent Peter Burke’s sensitive side is in reality a mushy, overly sentimental lesson in how poorly Kelly Kopowski has matured as an “actress.”

Even with a mostly anonymous supporting cast, “White Collar” is crazy fun. As long as Neal and Peter continue with their intriguing affiliation, Elizabeth stays offscreen, and they have more episodes that prominently feature models (see Episode 2, “Threads), I’m hooked. Hopefully, we will also get some answers to the fall finale shocker when the show returns at its new time, 10 p.m. on January 19, 2010. Until then, if you’re still looking for a reason to watch the show, I pose this question to you: What would happen if Ferris Bueller grew up and started working with Mr. Rooney?

Such is “White Collar”

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  1. Chris said...

    I tried to like this show, I really did, but it falls flat on many levels. The characters are a bit strained, as are the relationships they're forced into. I don't really see enough development in this to really be a big fan.