Impressively, Special Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) is the only FBI man to have ever managed to track down illusive con man Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) both for his initial arrest and again when he escapes from prison with just months remaining of his sentence to find the woman he loves. Nonetheless, the pursuit of Caffrey seems much easier when you realize that on White Collar, he sure walks in slow motion a lot.
However, when you have an actor as handsome as Bomer complete with piercing blue eyes and a Rat Pack wardrobe that includes a ‘40s style hat, which he’s able to flip on his head as smoothly as though he were teaching a class on the subject, it’s easy to understand just why the USA network series enjoys focusing on their charismatic lead even more than the luxurious New York City production design.
Engaging and sophisticated, White Collar plays like a cross between Catch Me If You Can and glossy Hollywood movies about charming rogues like To Catch a Thief and The Thomas Crown Affair. After catching Caffrey for the second time, the internationally renowned forger and art thief offers Burke an invaluable tip he needs on a case he’s working on in exchange for a meeting with him.
Asking Burke for the opportunity to get released into his custody with a tamper proof ankle monitoring device, Caffrey soon finds himself assisting the FBI’s White Collar Division with cases that are right up his alley, all the while privately searching for his ex-girlfriend Kate whom he believes is currently under the control of someone in the government.
And despite their initial hesitation to trust one another, the two professionals who were formerly on opposite sides of the law eventually discover that their mutual respect for each other’s work ethic and basic human decency is the solid foundation of a complex but not at all unbelievable friendship since ultimately, the two know and understand each other better than anyone else.
Having joked that she was always competing with Caffrey for her husband’s attention, Burke’s beautiful and supportive wife Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) is eager to finally meet the man who was previously a rival for her husband’s attention, becoming fast friends with Caffrey and the first to stand up for him whenever her husband doubts his new colleague’s loyalty.
Jeff Eastin’s deliciously escapist series dazzles on high definition Fox Blu-ray with one of USA network’s most involving, witty, and cinematic debuts as witnessed in the stunning pilot directed by Forces of Nature helmer Bronwen Hughes that’s sure to keep you invested.
However plot-wise, the following few episodes admittedly drop the ball before Eastin picks up the pen again to co-write the terrific “Flip of the Coin” in the first of four strong installments that usher Collar into its midseason arc, picking up additional momentum as we learn more about Kate’s disappearance, Caffrey’s real motives, Burke’s secret, and additionally encounter an FBI agent who may not be what he seems in a first season recurring guest role for actor Noah Emmerich.
Overall, the series is at its best in the aforementioned “Coin,” “The Portrait,” “All In,” “Free Fall” and “Hard Sell,” because it moves beyond the simple standalone problem solving paradigm to truly build a complicated web that must be unraveled by the end of the season.
Likewise, we wish that Caffrey’s impressive talents for forgery, theft, the con game and impossible escapes were utilized far more often instead of at times letting Collar simply go through the motions as another Burn Notice, Monk, Royal Pains, Psych style USA series where someone uses their intuitive nature and creative knack to save the day for whatever job they’re working on during any given episode so that it’s become a near network formula.
However, when the execution of this particular USA recipe incorporates this much class as well as a crackerjack cast which also includes Willie Garson, ultimately it’s hard to complain too much as we sit back, relax and watch Caffrey walk in slow motion knowing full well that like Burke we’ll catch him anytime because we can.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.