Sunday, November 15, 2009

White Collar

For a few years now, the USA Network has used the catchphrase, "Characters Welcome." Among the characters that have been created on this network are Adrian Monk, the detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Shawn Spencer of Psych, a fake psychic with extraordinary skills of observation, and Michael Weston of Burn Notice, a spy with covert-operations skills who found himself kicked out of the CIA. The network didn't create the character of Johnny Smith from The Dead Zone (see book by Stephen King and feature film), but I think it is fair to say that his home was on USA. USA was also the home of a fairly inventive science fiction series, The 4400, a show that was sadly canceled too soon.

What you may not know about the network is that it is under joint ownership with NBC. As mentioned earlier, NBC just gave away five hours of prime time to Jay Leno for a fairly conventional and unfunny talk show. How ironic that its sister-station is known for creating some decent dramas.

All the dramas aired on USA (with the exception of The 4400) more or less fit a standard mold. There's usually a small ensemble cast, which orbits around one usually eccentric character. The ensemble may start out as adversaries or strangers, but eventually they become a tight-knit unit, or even a family, despite their attempts to avoid becoming so. Although each episode is stand alone, there is often an arc that is mentioned in just about every episode, though there is often never a resolution. In Adrian Monk's storyline, it is the murder of his wife. The fare that is offered is usually light and frothy, and often completely enjoyable.

White Collar is no exception. The orbital character is Neal Caffrey, a roguish, impossibly handsome con-artist who has only been arrested and convicted once. His new family includes the man who caught him not once but twice, Special Agent Peter Burke, who agrees to let Caffrey out of jail to work as a consultant with the FBI. Peter's wife, Elizabeth, is an event planner who has helped with cases. Mozzie is Caffrey's partner in crime, known to Burke (so far) as Mr. Haversham. Lastly, the beautiful (of course!) and brilliant Agent Lauren Cruz who transfers to the White Collar Unit to work with Peter Burke, but finds herself somewhat attracted to Caffrey. Each episode a case is solved. In the meantime, Caffrey is trying to find his girlfriend, who he believes to be in trouble. I don't know all the details of that, because I've only seen the fourth episode.

So, just what the network ordered. Yes, there are holes the size of craters in the story, but it is not intended to be viewed with a skeptical, discerning eye. Instead, it is to be enjoyed, which I did.

Chuck fan alert - Neal Caffrey is played by the impossibly handsome Matthew Bomer. Bomer, of course, played Bryce Larkin, who arranged for the intersect to be downloaded into Chuck's brain. Larkin was possibly truly and finally killed in the season finale, so his new job shouldn't interfere with Chuck.

Carnivale fan alert - Peter Burke is played by Tim DeKay, Jonesy the crippled co-manager of the carnival. DeKay has appeared in a number of movies and dramas, including The 4400, Tell Me You Love Me, and Everwood. He was also Bizarro Jerry on Seinfeld.

Tiffani Thiessen stars as Peter's wife, Elizabeth. Thiessen is, of course, famous for her roles on Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210, as well as numerous Lifetime movies. Why she removed Amber from her name is lost on me.

Finally, a Sex and the City fan alert - Willie Garson, Stanford Blatch, plays a charming Mozzie.


  1. I keep meaning to watch an episode of this show. Now that you've endorsed it, I definitely should!

  2. Wow - that would then double the amount of shows that we both watch!