Written by Caballero Oscuro
USA Network has carved out a niche of breezy, charming shows over the past few years and White Collar is no exception. Joining the likes of Burn Notice, Psych, and even newest arrival Covert Affairs, the series offers up easily digestible standalone episodes with very little cumbersome ongoing plot to keep track of, allowing viewers to pop in for a brief and mindless visit at any time.
With a flimsy plot device pairing a dashing con artist with no-nonsense FBI agent, the show takes off on a new investigation every week. The nature of those investigations is also light, just like the series’ title promises, with a focus on crimes like art thefts and counterfeiting that leave very few dead bodies in their wake.
The con artist gains release from maximum security prison to help the FBI agent catch another master criminal, and their success on that first case opens the door for their continuing adventures with only a tracking anklet keeping the con honest. Of course he could easily flee at any time if he really wanted to, but this is TV so he has a heart of gold and the integrity to uphold the terms of his conditional prison release.
The con (Matt Bomer) is a suave pretty boy who uses his looks and charms to wiggle into and out of all manner of sticky situations, while his Fed partner (Tim DeKay) is a boring, conservative agent with a stable married life, improbably pairing him with a much better-looking wife (Tiffani Thiessen). The con isn’t in the romance market as he’s still pining for his ex-girlfriend who left a trail of mysterious clues in her wake when she vanished from his life. So, while the odd couple work on their weekly investigation, he also spends a few minutes on his big picture mystery in the hopes of reuniting with his lost flame and their joint hidden treasure.
This is not the show for viewers interested in complex plot mythology or deep character studies. However, for what it is, it gets the job done quite well. There’s little to complain about here, other than the con’s somewhat forced fondness for Rat Pack-era fashion including form-fitting suits, funky fedoras and skinny ties. In the context of their New York City surroundings, he can get away with his fashion choices, but in reality the costume designer’s wardrobe choices seem more constraining than defining.
On Blu-ray, the 14 season one episodes really pop compared to DVD, with a rich color palette, crisp photography, and an immense depth of field that shows off their New York locations so well that the city becomes an integral character of the show rather than just a setting. The sound mix is not noticeably better on Blu, but is offered in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
As for bonus features, there’s a gag reel, deleted scenes, audio commentaries on selected episodes, and very brief featurettes focusing on the fashion, the two stars, and the New York City location scouting.
White Collar is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.