White Collar – TV Review

TV continues to offer the most varied and satisfying entertainment for people who are willing to invest some time learning what they like. This variety of quality programming can be found either on-demand or on DVD – all you have to do is make an effort to look for it.

One show to look for is the USA drama “White Collar.” In its third season, “White Collar” is a traditional procedural drama that resolves by the end of every episode. Seasons 1 and 2 were driven by a second plot thread that provided some flimsy momentum through the season’s arc. This thread has been wisely abandoned in season 3 to focus more on character development.

Season 3, now airing in the USA and available through many on-demand services, maintains the high bar set by previous seasons delivering another solid set of pure-entertainment television. What “White Collar” achieves is rare and in direct contrast to much of today’s “heavy does it” critically lauded shows. “White Collar” entertains. Imagine that! 

“White Collar” offers no commentary on today, no shocking or explicit scenes of violence, and no pretentious aspiration for edginess. “White Collar” is the epitome of a guilty pleasure – succeeding at being merely entertaining. It is like a delicious piece of non-nutritious yellow cake with chocolate frosting – and just as satisfying!

This is because “White Collar” owes more to “Gilmore Girls” than “Law and Order.” It’s witty, often zippy, and the dialog is checkered with obscure references that will send you to Wikipedia during the commercial break. There is even a white-collar glossary website to help viewers understand them. This smartness is what makes the show so much fun.

Creator and producer Jeff Eastin is a writer writing for himself and having a blast doing so. Penning the majority of the episodes, his scripts never dumb down plots or dialog. He assumes the audience is intelligent and paying attention.

For those who don’t know, “White Collar” tells the story of the impossibly charming former conman Neal Caffrey (played by appropriately impossibly-handsome Matt Bomer). Caffrey is released early from prison to aid the FBI, under the guidance of Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), in thwarting the weekly parade of fraudsters by outwitting them amid their various schemes. Burke tries to keep Caffrey’s formidable skills in check and on track but finds himself falling under his spell, questioning what Caffrey is really up to. The excellent ensemble is rounded out by Caffrey’s former partner-in-crime, Mozzie (Willie Garson), and Burke’s wife, Elizabeth (Tiffani Theissen).

The show’s energy and drive are primarily derived from the relationships between these four main characters. There is a warmth and sincerity in these relationships that seems authentic and something new to TV. The relationship between Burke and Caffrey, agent and criminal. It is engaging in the mutual respect they have for each other. To a similar but lesser degree, Mr. and Mrs. Burke’s successful marriage has a natural warmth and a sense of fun toward each often not seen. It’s a credit to the cast that these and the other supporting players never stray into camp or silliness.

The real star here is in the character of Neal Caffrey and the irresistible turn given by actor Mr. Bomer. If you ever scratched your head when your parents retold the virtues of Cary Grant, watching Caffrey might help you understand what they were talking about. With Caffrey, you will see the closest embodiment of Grant in a very long time. Caffrey/Bomer is suave, sophisticated, intelligent, confident, and handsome – the person who would typically piss you off. Yet, in the hands of Bomer, you somehow like him.

So if you want pure entertainment and want to be charmed – you should check out “White Collar” – you too may be surprised to look forward to the next episode.

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