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Fox / 395 Minutes / 2010 / Unrated / Street Date: June 7, 2011
White Collar: Season 2 starts off quite seriously, and this tack doesn't serve the show all that well. I mean, Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a handsome, debonair leading man and his mentor Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) makes a great foil for him - I guess what I'm trying to say is that the setup of White Collar has the potential to work just fine without the addition of this second season's wildly prevalent dead-girlfriend plot device.
Yeah, it turns out that at the end of the show's first season, Neal's ladyfriend kicks the bucket, throwing both Neal and his vortex of quirky crime-fighting into a veritable fog. Theoretically, this is a good thing - any twist or turn that can make things challenging for a protagonist creates a breeding ground for grand drama - but in White Collar's case, it simply doesn't need it (and would probably be better off without it).
See, for this writer, White Collar has a fresh, post-Catch Me If You Can sensibility to it that sounds fantastic. A young, irresistible thief and forgerer gets lassoed by the FBI and eschews prison time in exchange for working for the government, helping a crackerjack team dive deep into some seriously heinous white collar crimes? I'm in. To be fair, this definitely is White Collar's default - the show falls into its description fairly often - but it's nowhere near as successful as one might hope.
However, we get a delicious baddie turn from Andrew McCarthy here, as well as enjoyably off-the-wall performances from Tiffani Thiessen as Peter's wife and Willie Garson as Neal's BFF Mozzie, so there are diamonds in the roughs of White Collar. There should be more here, but as it stands, even with its 'coulda been...' shortcomings, the show offers passable, often engaging entertainment.
Just ditch the dead girlfriend next time, fellas....