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White Collar: The Complete First Season(TV) (2009-2010)
When Neal escapes from a maximum-security prison to find his long-lost love, Peter nabs him once again. Rather than returning to jail, Neal suggests an alternate plan: He'll provide his criminal expertise to assist the Feds in catching other elusive criminals in exchange for his eventual freedom. Initially wary, Peter quickly finds that Neal provides insight and intuition that can't be found on the right side of the law.
For more about White Collar: The Complete First Season and the White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on July 19, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Willie Garson, Hilarie Burton, Annet Mahendru, Murray Bartlett
» See full cast & crew
White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
USA’s stylish buddy drama debuts on Blu-ray…
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, July 19, 2010
Not many risks get taken on network or basic cable television. Occasionally, some out-of-the-box producer will give us a Twin Peaks or a Lost, a Mad Men or an Arrested Development—I've also got my finger's crossed for AMC's upcoming adaptation of The Walking Dead graphic novels—but most television can be summed up tidily: take the word cop, medical, lawyer, or family, and append it with drama and/or comedy. You know—the tried and true, the stalwart, the formulaic. Year after year, networks introduce new series that fall into these familiar genres, and year after year, most of the shows are cancelled after only a half-season run. Yet a few have just enough verve and personality to succeed into a second season and, perhaps, beyond. Such is the case with USA's White Collar, which brings little new to the buddy cop drama/comedy genre, but subsists on the likeability of its stars and the sharpness of its episodic storytelling.
The premise of the show, as set out in the pilot episode, is pretty simple. Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is to the criminal world what a renaissance man is to the arts and sciences. He's an expert thief, a crack safe cracker, a brilliant forger, and a master in just about everything master-able. Above all, he's impossibly handsome and a devilish charmer, able to talk himself into—or out of—almost any situation. Except, of course, the one that landed him in jail for bond fraud. With three months left to serve on a four-year sentence, he escapes to look for his ex-girlfriend Kate (Alexandra Daddario), but he's quickly recaptured by the man who put him into the clink in the first place: FBI agent Peter Burke (Carnivale's Tim DeKay), a by-the-book "suit" with a surprisingly uncanny ability to penetrate the criminal mind. Faced with the prospect of going back to a state penitentiary for four more years, Neal helps Peter solve an especially difficult case, and finds a legal loophole that allows him to stay out of prison on an FBI work-release program. The downside? While he assists Peter in the FBI's New York City white collar crimes unit, he has to wear an electronic anklet that keeps him on a tight, two-mile leash. A leash that he strains against, like a dog in heat, looking for ways find his lost love.
If it sounds like just another buddy cop scenario, well, it is. Peter is the "straight" character, bound to protocol and procedure, while Neal is the "rogue," jumping headlong into tricky cases and foregoing most legal necessities—like, say, search warrants. In the grand tradition of "buddy" films and TV shows, the drama and comedy of Peter and Neil's relationship is defined by their differences, but what keeps them together is their mutual respect and affection. And White Collar works because its two leads are inherently likeable. Matt Bomer, with his windswept hair, chiseled Superman jaw, and wardrobe of Mad Men-esque 1960s Sy Devore suits—which he lucks into in the first episode—is definitely meant to draw a female audience. He's raffish and unstoppably confident, and nearly every woman he encounters on the show gets caught in the tractor beam of his impossibly blue eyes. (This does get a bit tiring, for us and—possibly—him.) Tim DeKay's charms are more of the consummate professional and bumbling husband variety, and his wife on the show, played by 90210 alum Tiffani Thiessan, is a frequent presence, checking in on Peter and often sticking up for Neal when he circumvents the law to crack a case. Neal also finds help from his longtime friend Mozzie (Willie Garson), a criminal jack-of-all-trades—and the show's requisite "quirky" character—with a deep distrust of the FBI. The performances can get somewhat overstated—especially Garson's—but the chemistry that develops between the actors over the course of the season is infectious, and definitely presents a reason to keep watching.
The other reason is the episodes themselves, which generally stick to the episodic, mystery-of-the- week formula, but stand out from the pack of TV police procedurals thanks to snappy dialogue and white-collar crimes that are more glamorous than the grisly murders and abuse cases you get on shows like C.S.I. or Law & Order. Peter and Neal go after Fashion Week scammers and boiler room stock fraud con men; they track down stolen paintings and diamonds, bust up an organ transplant donation scheme, and even rescue an antiquarian bible that can supposedly heal people. The individual episodes are tightly constructed and often cleverly resolved, but the overarching narrative of the series feels a bit sloppy. Some time at the end of each episode is devoted to Neal's ongoing quest to find Kate and rescue her from the control of the mysterious "man with the ring"—his only distinguishable feature is a unique ring spotted in a surveillance photo—but we're never really given a reason why Kate is so important to Neal. Sure, he says he loves her, but he also has a wandering eye and fawns ridiculously over sexy female FBI agents and NYC models in nearly every episode. If the second season can pull back the curtain on the whole Kate business and give us a more compelling emotional through-line, White Collar will have a better chance of surviving in the basic cable wilderness.
White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Limited by bandwidth, cable broadcasts are often host to macroblocking, banding, and other compression artifacts, but on Blu-ray, White Collar looks as clean as, well, a white collar. Shot on high definition video, the episodes have been given solid 1080p/AVC encodes that look great— maybe not as stunning as Lost or Mad Men or some of the other high profile TV shows that have to Blu-ray, but genuinely impressive for a basic cable drama. Occasional softness creeps into a few scenes, but overall the episodes are tightly resolved, with defined facial textures and fine detail visible on Neal's Devore suits. The series has a very realistic aesthetic marked by cool grays and blues, the occasional burst of strong color, and natural skin tones. Black levels are deep but never crushing, contrast is spot on, and while white highlights are often blown out, this seems like an intentional choice. Video noise levels rise during some of the nighttime sequences, but unless you're viewing on an insanely large screen, it shouldn't ever be a distraction. And, as I said before, there are no overt compression problems to worry about. This is by far the best way to watch White Collar.
White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like most 20th Century Fox releases, each episode of White Collar features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Though these are TV mixes through and through, they sound great for what they are. The score is fairly generic—it seems like it could've easily been recycled from some late 1990s cop drama—but the music has decent clarity and what, for a lack of a better word, you might call oomph. It also bleeds into the surround channels, giving the otherwise front-heavy presentation a bit of reach and immersion. Aside from the music, though, there's very little going on in the rear speakers. You'll occasionally hear some quiet ambience and the rare effect, but that's about it. I could probably count the number of cross-channel pans throughout the series on one hand. Still, the show is definitely more dialogue than action-driven, and there was never a moment when the voices sounded muffled or low in the mix. You won't be turning White Collar on to demo your speaker system, but for casual TV listening, it sounds just fine.
White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are five commentary tracks spread throughout the season, most of the them featuring show creator Jeff Eastin, along with actors Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay. (Willie Garson and Tiffani Thiessan both show up on two tracks as well.) While hardcore fans will definitely want to give these a listen, there's not much here that will sustain the interest of more casual viewers. The tracks tend to be quiet and conversational, with the participants really just following along instead of doling out pertinent behind-the-scenes information.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 10:23)
Six deleted scenes are included here, but there's nothing drastic or revealing. Worth a watch.
Gag Reel (SD, 12:21)
Oddly enough, the longest featurette on third disc is this twelve minute gag reel, which features your usual montage of flubbed lines, missed cues, and random hilarity.
Pro and Con (1080p, 6:44)
Get it? Pro and Con? Here, show creator Jeff Eastin discusses the two lead characters and the importance of casting the right people in the roles.
Cool Cat in a Hat (1080p, 5:41)
The show's costume designer leads us through the philosophy behind each character's wardrobe.
Nothing but the Truth (1080p, 2:27)
Consultant and former FBI agent Tom Barden, who worked in the white collar crimes division, talks briefly about his contributions to the show.
White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
White Collar doesn't reinvigorate the buddy cop drama or make any revolutionary changes to the episodic TV formula, but what it does—giving us likeable characters and a compelling weekly case to crack—it does well. I don't think I could recommend a blind buy on this one—TV tastes are so different from person to person—but fans of the show will definitely want to pick up this Blu-ray release, as it looks and sounds fantastic. For newcomers, I'd suggest going to USA's website and watching an episode first to make sure White Collar is something you'd like. I will say this: it grows on you.
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White Collar: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• White Collar Season 1 Blu-ray Announced - June 8, 2010
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced White Collar: The Complete First Season for release on Blu-ray on July 13 – the same day that Season Two premieres on USA Network. The 14 episodes of the first season will be presented in three Blu-ray ...
• White Collar Season One Coming Soon on Blu-ray - April 28, 2010
An early announcement to retailers indicates that, on July 13, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release White Collar: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray. This police procedural about the unlikely partnership of a con artist and an FBI agent and aired ...
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