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The second season of the hit US TV show, White Collar. Follows the exploits of con man Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) in his role as consultant to the FBI's White Collar unit, led by Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay).
Created by Jeff Eastin.
White Collar is a family friendly procedural drama with a hint of comedy; it is a light show that doesn't require much commitment. Miss an episode and it will make little difference. Each episode sees a new crime being investigated by the White Collar division in New York; although Caffrey is only supposed to be a consultant, he usually ends up conning his way into getting information which helps solve the case.
The buddy cop formula works well in White Collar with Caffrey and Burke being totally different characters yet still having good chemistry and banter. Much of that has to be put down to Bomer (Tru Calling) and DeKay (Tell Me You Love Me) who clearly enjoy working together. The show is at its best when both leads are on screen together, whilst Bomer has the charisma to command the screen when alone, DeKay doesn't quite have it.
Bomer's Caffrey has a little more depth in this season but the switch from carefree conman to a concerned man in love (which happens pretty much every episode) happens too quickly and it is a little jarring, it just doesn't feel right. The writing could be a little tighter to make the character flow better between scenes and emotions, it seems like Bomer is playing two totally separate characters at times.
DeKay plays the role of FBI agent Peter Burke well most of the time, he can come across a little dull at times though. I think that is the danger of having a straight man next to a more interesting character. As with the character of Caffrey, Burke switches emotions and allegiances too quickly. He trusts Caffrey and then one minute later Burke is accusing Caffrey of all sorts. Better writing is needed to make the show slicker and the characters more consistent and believable.
Tiffani Thiessen (Saved by the Bell) plays the role of Peter Burke's wife, Elizabeth. Thiessen was pregnant for much of this season so her part in the show was marginalised to some poor green screen shots. As the season went along she came back into the show but I think they would have been better off coming up with an excuse to write her out of the beginning of the season. Fitting her in the show wasn't done in a good way; right in the middle of an episode, Peter Burke would randomly phone his wife seemingly just to remind the audience that she existed. I still don't understand why Peter tells his wife all the details of his cases, I am pretty sure confidential means do not tell your wife. I guess they have to give Thiessen a reason for being in the show.
Willie Garson (Sex and the City) is Caffrey's friend and partner in crime, Mozzie. Garson's role is bigger in the second season; he becomes a larger part of Caffrey's cons as the season plays out. Garson is good as the bumbling yet genius sidekick but the fact that he is seemingly the brains behind most of the cons takes away from Caffrey's reputation as master conman. Mozzie is the voice in Caffrey's ear telling him to go back to a life of crime, this balances out the goodness coming from Agent Burke and presents a conflict for Caffrey.
Marsha Thomason (The Haunted Mansion) plays the role of FBI agent Diana Barrigan. After appearing sporadically in the first season, she is a regular in the second season. It's always nice to see an English actress do well in America; after appearing in domestic shows Playing the Field and Where the Heart Is, Thomason has starred in Lost, Las Vegas and now White Collar. Barrigan isn't the most interesting character, although she is in more episodes, the writers still haven't put that much effort in to developing the character. During the season, the writers gave Barrigan a girlfriend, seemingly in an effort to give her some background and character.
Sharif Atkins (ER) is FBI agent Clinton Jones. More low key appearances for Atkins in the second season, he is still listed as a guest star despite being in most episodes if not all. Personally, I think they should bump up his screen time and give him something decent to do, not just hand files to people. Having more robust support characters would definitely build my interest in the show.
Hilarie Burton (One Tree Hill) is Caffrey's love interest, Sara Ellis. Giving the lead a love interest in this season was a great idea, Caffrey pining over his ex-girlfriend in the first season was not that interesting or done in a particularly endearing way. Burton is pretty good in the role; Bomer and Burton have good chemistry and are believable together.
Season 2 is another entertaining season from White Collar but still nothing brilliant, it just needs to go a bit further in my opinion and be a bit more hard hitting. I won't say what the cliffhanger at the end of season 1 was in case anyone here wants to watch it from the very beginning, but I was disappointed that it was dragged out for the full length of season 2. I like a good shock at the end of the season but then it should be wrapped up when the new season starts in a mini arc of 4 or 5 episodes. White Collar has the same mystery for all 16 episodes of season 2. Quite frankly I wasn't that interested in it by the end of the season, it needed wrapping up a lot quicker.
I have listed a few of the best episodes from season 2 of White Collar below:
- Burke's Seven (ep 10) - Burke is suspended and is forced to run a con with Caffrey and co.
- Forging Bonds (ep 11) - Flashback episode that shows how the unlikely duo both got to where they are today.
- Countermeasures (ep 13) - An old friend of Caffrey's landlady June turns up, but his motives are unclear.
- Under the Radar (ep 16) - The explosive season finale which leaves Caffrey with a big decision to make.
White Collar ends season 2 on a strong cliffhanger which leaves me with hope that the third season will have a bit more to it. It's tricky as the writers clearly want to make it accessible to all by making the series very episodic, but it can't reach the heights of great TV without either putting in more of an arc or making the individual episode storylines more robust. Better writing is needed, there are too many plot holes and undeveloped characters. It is a good show but it could be so much better, hopefully the third season will get it right.
Behind the scenes featurette
Matt Bomer - Neal Caffrey
Tim DeKay - Peter Burke
Willie Garson - Mozzie
Tiffani Thiessen - Elizabeth Burke
Marsha Thomason - Diana Barrigan
Hilarie Burton - Sara Ellis
Sharif Atkins - Clinton Jones
Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating.