Thursday, December 3, 2009

"White Collar": Reviewing the first season

USA's charming new caper series "White Collar" has its mid-season finale on Friday night at 10 p.m. Though I haven't gotten a chance to write much about it, I honestly believe this show -- starring Tim DeKay as a clever FBI agent and Matthew Bomer as the brilliant thief who becomes his partner -- is one of the most entertaining new series of the year.
The show is the latest in USA's stable of lightweight, character-driven mysteries, such as "Monk" (which has it series finale Friday at 9 p.m.),"Psych," and "Burn Notice." All of these shows are less about meaty drama than they are about engaging personalities (with the possible exception of "Burn Notice," which gets deeper and more interesting every season). And "White Collar" features two of the most engaging personalities on TV, in the person of TV vets DeKay and Bomer.
DeKay gives just the right note of weary intelligence and dry humor as frazzled FBI agent Peter Burke, who teams up with charming forger and thief Neal Caffrey (Bomer). Both actors are terrific, but this is Bomer's vehicle. The actor has bounced around in everything from the short-lived drama "Traveler" to NBC's cult hit "Chuck," and here he has a really fun, flashy role that will finally make him a star.
There are some good supporting players as well, including the ever-reliable Willie Garson as Neal's sidekick, a conspiracy theorist with a seemingly endless talent for information-gathering.
The show doesn't always work. Tiffani Thiessen's role as Peter's sweet wife seems like an afterthought, and I never understood why Marsha Thomason's character disappeared after the pilot.
But, overall, this is a strong show. The finale is as good as everything that came before it, and ends with a shocking twist that -- if it is what it appears to be -- could turn the entire show upside down.
I kind of hope it doesn't. I like this show the way it is.

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