Monday, October 26, 2009

White Collar rollicking good fun

     This past Friday, USA premiered the 6th of their ‘Characters Welcome’ series lineup. While Monk can be a great procedural, the problem with procedural dramas is that it can feel like you’re watching the same episode over and over again. It is also the only consistent USA series to be up for any kind of Emmy. Psych was a procedural that added more serial elements, and Burn Notice took it a step further. Both shows can sometimes become rote, but both also produce several episodes per year that break the stale cycle. Unfortunately, In Plain Sight and Royal Pains copied this formula so well that they don’t seem fresh. Which brings us to the newest attempt, White Collar.

      The promos that had been running for this newest show were not that enticing, but White Collar definitely felt like it could bring USA out of the rut. It deserves a season pass on your DVR, for now. It is witty, has interesting characters (of course), and may not be the same show every week. Serial elements such as Neal’s uneasy position with the FBI and his missing lover should kick it up to Burn Level style excitement. Better yet, it doesn’t copy Burn Notice or any of the other USA shows, bringing a stylistic element and interactions that are more complicated than other leading characters.

      The show is led by Matthew Bomer (Chuck) and Tim DeKay (Carnviale), and the supporting cast certainly only raise the shop up. From Peter’s assistant, to Neal’s landlord, and the informant played by Willie Garson, there were characters who could stand on their own, and weren’t just bit players in another man’s story. There was actually depth and back story already implied by their small scenes in the pilot. Plus, the previews for future episodes showed Kirk Acevedo, fresh off of his run on Fox’s Fringe. Not to mention that the villain of episode one was the wickedly entertaining Mark Sheppard, veteran of 24, Battlestar Gallactica, Dollhouse, and a slew of guest spots including in the other USA shows.

      All in all, while this show may end up ultimately disappointing, it certainly has the ingredients to help put USA back on the map, and possibly taking over as the award winning flagship when Monk goes off the air soon.

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