Tuesday, January 19, 2010
"White Collar" returns; thankfully I don't have to start hating it
It's fair to say that the mid-season finale of USA's new caper drama "White Collar" contained one of the more polarizing cliffhangers of recent years.
Up until the last episode of the fall, the series was basically a cheerful, fast-paced buddy comedy about brainy FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) who recruits world's-smartest-thief Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) to be a consultant on tricky theft cases. It was a charming, fun romp, fueled mainly by the great chemistry between (and wonderfully loose performances of) the two leads.
Then came the mid-season finale in which it appeared that the straitlaced Peter was a bad guy who was keeping Neal's lady love Kate as a sort of hostage. It was a shocking possibility, and one that could have turned this light caper into something dark and sinister. Like many, I had no idea how I felt about it. On the one hand, I would like this show to have a little more substance. No, I don't expect it to suddenly turn into "The Wire," but I'd like there to be more at stake for the characters.
On the other hand, the Peter-Neal relationship is one of the show's strongest assets, and I can't possibly support anything that messes with that.
Well, the show returns for the second half of its season tonight at 10 and, without spoiling anything, let me just say that I'm pleased by the new episode. It manages to add a little more depth and mystery to the show without spoiling that central relationship.
Plus, there's a fun mystery of the week in which Neal has to go undercover to bring down a boiler room scam. The show's at its best when it lets its two leads show why their characters are the best at what they do. Both Bomer and DeKay get nice showcases here, and Willie Garson is still a joy as Neal's paranoid sidekick Mozzie. It's an enjoyable episode and it should satisfy those who were scratching their heads at the fall finale.