Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crime Drama That's Criminal to Miss

I've had a lot of time to watch TV these last couple weeks. In fact it's one of the few things I can do once I get home from work. I find that most of the time I'm too worn out for any real writing and reading hasn't sounded all that good. So the TV goes on and I become a blob on the couch.

Most of the time I don't watch much though. If the TV's on I'll check out a old Mythbusters episode, or a rerun of NCIS. But that's really it. And I never plan my evenings around a show. That is, until recently. Jeff and I have become completely enraptured with USA's new series White Collar. The show follows the exploits of Neal Caffrey (a master forger and white collar criminal) and his brand new boss Peter Burke (FBI agent). Peter is the only person that's been able to capture Neal before and when he escapes from prison, Peter is brought in to recapture him. But this time, Neal isn't sent back to jail. He's given an tracking anklet, a two mile radius, and begins to work with the FBI solving forgery and other white collar crimes.

Like that other Odd Couple series from days ago, this show is all about the differences between the two characters. Peter is incredibly smart but by the book and a little on the dull side. Neal, on the other hand, is charming, manipulative, cocky, and impulsive although he's just as smart. The two play off each other beautifully. Peter is constantly frustrated by how easily things come to Neal and Neal is always trying to get Peter to see things in less than black and white. Each episode is a different case although there is one thread that runs through the whole series. Neal escaped from prison to save his girlfriend Kate. He has had contact with her but she is being held by someone. The series interlaces the crimes with the hunt for Kate.

It's hard to imagine that the premise of this show would make it all that good. When we first saw previews for the show not only was I not really interested, I was a bit annoyed with how frequently they were played. But after the first twenty minutes of the first show (Neal's amazingly daring escape from prison) I was interested. In the first episode, when Peter leads Neal to his new home (a seedy motel) and then returns the next morning to find him living rent free in a Penthouse apartment (must be nice to have charm), Jeff and I were intrigued. And the end of the first episode sealed it for me. After that, Jeff and I made no plans for Friday night. We had a date with White Collar. The new season starts tonight and from now on I won't have any plans for Tuesdays. I never expected to like a series this much. But it's just too clever, too witty, and too engaging to pass up. A guilty pleasure but a somewhat intelligent one.

Main Cast from left to right: Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), Elizabeth Burke, Peter's wife (Tiffani Thiessen), Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer), and Mozzie, Neal's friend and fellow con (Willie Garson)

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