Review: White Collar - Pilot (series premiere)
by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 24th 2009 1:29PM
(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.]