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October 6, 2015

Review: White Collar - Pilot (series premiere)

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 24th 2009 1:29PM
White Collar
(S01E01) USA Network likes to remind us that characters are welcome. Thankfully, that's not just a slogan, as all of their shows actually do have great lead characters. And this holds true for the latest light comedy-action drama White Collar.

Sure, there's similar DNA that runs though a lot of the USA shows. Burn Notice, Royal Pains, and White Collar all have a similar setup and feel to them, but when the shows are actually good (like all of these shows are) that's not a problem. I don't know if there's anything "deep" about this show, but it's entertaining as hell.

White Collar is a bit of It Takes A Thief mixed with those other USA Network shows, as we have a charming con man (Neal Caffrey, played by Traveler's Matthew Bomer) released from prison so he can help out Detective Peter Burke (played by Tim DeKay - "Bizarro Jerry" from Seinfeld) with white collar crimes (art forgery, theft, money crimes, etc). He has to wear an ankle bracelet and likes to escape from jail, so it's not exactly a relationship based on 100% trust, but that's part of the show's strength. The two leads fight and banter and try to best each other, but there's also real affection and respect between them too.

The two leads are really fantastic. This is easily Bomer's best role to date, and I'm not sure how many shows I've seen DeKay in but he's excellent here. Remember earlier I said that White Collar might not be deep? That's not entirely fair. This isn't just fluff. It does the serious stuff well too, and the dialogue is 87 times better than I thought it was going to be. You love these characters immediately and you want to spend time with them (that's true with other USA Network shows too).

Willie Garson is here too, playing the anti-hero helper character that he plays so well, and Diahann Carroll is great as the woman who helps Caffrey out (I wasn't even aware she was in this show as a regular so when she appears it's a nice surprise). It's rather quick and convenient how her character just happens to be in the store to help out Caffrey so he doesn't have to live in a dive hotel, but it's a plot point that won't bother you. Just go with it.

The only character I haven't completely bought yet is Tiffani Thiessen's character. She's supposed to be married to DeKay's character but DeKay has more wrinkles on his face than she does and they often seem more like father and daughter instead of husband and wife. Maybe I'm having too many flashbacks to Saved By The Bell.

Oh, did I mention that it's also filmed in a very stylish manner, on location in NYC? That helps immensely.

Here's the episode. I'm hooked.

[Watch clips and full episodes of White Collar at SlashControl.]

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I think Matthew Bomer is actor Paul Gross's illegitimate love child! It was totally freak'n me out how much they resemble each other including mannerisms!! You think I'm lying? Look at the center photo. http://paulgross.org/indexlow.htm

I hadn't seen Bomer in anything else so his face was new to me. I kept thinking this guy reminds me of someone ... who? Anyway, I loved it and will be back for more. I hope the rest of the eps live up to this pilot. And, yes, a lot of the plot about how he escaped wasn't feasible but sometimes you like to have potato chips and ice cream for supper instead of your veggies. It's not a crime and something like this is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than "Reality" TV any freak'n day of the week! I'm also intrigue by the "mystery" surrounding Bomer's character's wife/girlfriend.

October 28 2009 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I *REALLY* liked this pilot. I thought the acting and the writing were fantastic. I was, quite honestly, blown away by how much I liked it, as I had zero expectations going in.

October 26 2009 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone get the feeling that if NBC put the USA lineup in prime time, they'd likely have a smash hit network? Aside from Royal Pains, which turned boring after the first three episodes (please don't happen to White Collar), it's easy to look at Burn Notice, Pysch, Monk, et. al. and see how well they'd fit on network television and would likely do well.

October 26 2009 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i was having the hardest time remembering Bomer's character name.
I kept referring to him as "Bryce Larkin" in my head.

October 25 2009 at 1:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to tingrin87's comment

Haha, his character's definitely got that "Bryce" feel, except for the fact that this character's likable.
Love Matt Bomer, liked the tension Bryce brought to "Chuck", hated Bryce (or at least he was the character I loved to hate).
Either way, am definitely loving this show and hope it stays awesome!

October 25 2009 at 5:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had the same problem with Mark Sheppard and Marsha Thomason. I was like "Badger!" and "Nessa!" everytime I saw their characters.

October 26 2009 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great start here - if they can keep the stories good from week to week, this will be another must-watch show for me. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'll take consistantly good/really good shows over occasionally great ones. There's only a few of those out there, and many that have started out that way, like Monk, only to start going downhill in the quality and consistency of the writing. I hope they can get a least a full season of good episodes, much like Royal Pains did. I'm in agreement with the review of Tiffani Thiessen's performance, but she came close to pulling it off. She needs to bring a bit more realism, maybe toning down the makeup a bit more, but she did make the connection to Mr. Burke believable enough for now. And... Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.... tighten up that fake accent - you had some Jersey "flare-ups" in there that really threw me off.

October 25 2009 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

An idiotic show for people with brain disease. I lasted maybe 15 minutes.

We are shown the hero walking out of jail using a uniform he ordered over the internet. So, in this special "jail" he gets an unmonitored internet connection (are you kidding?) packages delivered to his cell unopened (you have to be kidding!) and after four years there, no one recognizes his face, or the fact they have never seen his face on a police uniform before? Not even to mention he knows instantly from a fiber on someone's suit, that it is a security fiber on a new Canadian bill that is top secret, and he knows this (because "Its what I do.") after being in jail the last four years. Yeah, right.

This is the stupidest opening I have ever seen, and anyone who can let this kind of nonsense slide, should see a brain specialist immediately.

October 24 2009 at 10:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that these USA Network shows are a bit formulaic. But it works.

It's a terrific show. And since it has been in near-constant re-runs since its premiere last night, I've managed to watch it once in its entirety and twice in parts.

October 24 2009 at 7:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Jessica - I actually thought that DeKay and Thiessen had great chemistry, and a very believable relationship. I thought how nice it was too see a former child actor successfully pull off an adult role, making the charactor real.

Takayo, Marcia Thomasson was Naomi on Lost for a handful of episodes. The only problem I had at all with the show was that I remembered her in the first few seasons of Las Vegas as Nessa, and I could tell she was hiding her English accent in White Collar.

This is definitely staying in rotation on the DVR at our house!

October 24 2009 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was pleasantly surprised by this series. I don't know why, but watching the promos it always seemed kind of lackluster, but it blew me away. I don't think it'll be quite the hit Royal Pains was, but I think it will blend well with Psych once Monk ends its run.

Also, was the lesbian FBI agent from Lost? I can't remember her name in either show...

October 24 2009 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Diahann Carroll isn't a regular cast member, but a recurring guest star. This actually makes sense. June isn't needed for the crime stuff, which is the whole point of the show.

October 24 2009 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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