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TV Review: White Collar – “Prisoner’s Dilemma”

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Developing a show about high class criminals may not seem like such a difficult task. After all, if one turns on any news channel, examples are shown on a fairly regular basis. To spread things out over an entire television season, though, takes a bit more planning. While storylines are pretty fresh each time, the trick is when to develop characters as well as inserting new ones into an episode. Viewers could get tired of the same recurring character week after week, so a break every so often is a good thing.

For “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” Joe Morton of Eureka fame, takes on the role of FBI Agent Bancroft. Considering his current science fiction hit is not ending for the season quite yet, making him an upper level bureaucrat is a wise move. In terms of the show, he is the boss of Reese Hughes (James Rebhorn), who oversees the White Collar Division of the FBI. Nothing is said about Hughes being transferred out or fired, so I assume Rebhorn will return at some point.

Morton is no stranger to strong roles, which is helpful as he must navigate the possibility of an FBI guy, Jack Franklin (Jeremy Davidson), engaging in unethical behavior. To make matters worse, Franklin has disappeared. This brings in the U.S. Marshals, whose job it is to bring back Franklin for disciplinary action. Interagency conflict is always interesting to watch, and Tim DeKay handles his part of it with the firm but fair tactic viewers have grown to love.

Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) is back! After giving birth, Thiessen’s maternity leave kept her in Los Angeles for several weeks. Time to call up green screen technology. In other words, make it look as though she is actually in New York with everybody else. The effect is obvious, so it’s nice to see her in person.

The scenes with Elizabeth and Mozzie (Willie Garson) are cute, as they bond over Peter not being around, as he is out on a sting to catch the person truly responsible for Franklin getting the raw end of the stick. It’s a bit obvious after Franklin’s last case is examined. Sometimes, the writers must think viewers need to be told what is going on rather than letting people figure things out for themselves.

Take the idea of who Kate, the longtime girlfriend of Neal (Matt Bomer), calls before the plane she is on explodes (“Out of the Box”). While I understand the reasoning, the plot makes little sense. Why does she need to, especially when the other person knows good and well there is a hitch in the arrangement? Sheesh.

Learning about Kate’s call is much less intriguing than what is learned about Mozzie. He has several places to stay at, but he’s a Buddhist. Well, sort of. I have to smile at his raking a Zen garden with a kimono-style robe on. Also, the note left when Peter brings over a replacement rake.

Two more episodes remain in the summer season. This show then goes on break until January, when it finishes out its run. USA does several shows in this manner, intelligently. Once the fall premieres start, cable could get lost in the shuffle. In this fashion, episodes can be aired in two groups, with no need for repeats or programming hitches.

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