Wednesday, January 27, 2010

White Collar, "Bad Judgment": Quit bugging me

Still not likely to write about "White Collar" regularly, but I found last night's episode an improvement enough over the last few that I have some thoughts coming up just as soon as I find a tailor in the middle of the night...

"White Collar" has two obvious strengths in the rapport between Tim DeKay and Matthew Bomer and the idea of a lawman working with a con man, but it has two fundamental flaws: 1)The show has yet to give us any reason to care about Kate, other than the fact that Neal cares about her; and 2)White collar crime (or, at least, the way the show has so far depicted white collar crime) isn't all that interesting.

"Bad Judgment" worked around both those flaws while playing up the series' strengths. We got a lot of Neal and Peter working together well - and, at times, working towards the same goal with one party not realizing it was happening - we got a whole lot of Moz moving in Peter's world, and we got a lot of glimpses into how Neal and Mozzie's cons work. At the same time, Kate didn't appear at all (though she was, as usual, talked about a lot), and the mortgage fraud case was treated as a MacGuffin-ish excuse to have Peter and Neal go against the judge and Fowler, and not as something we should care about in and of itself.

I don't know if they can downplay the cases this much every week, particularly with Fowler heading back to Washington for the time being, but this was still a much more satisfying episode than last week's "Hard Sell" or many of the later episodes from the first half of the season. If Jeff Eastin and company can find a way to either make Kate interesting or ditch her for good, we might be cooking with gas eventually.

What did everybody else think?


Amy said...

I have never watched any crime procedural for the cases. For me, a show like this is all about the relationships and Peter & Neal are just fantastic together. As for Kate, I've believed she was bad from day one and still do, but am curious where the show will go once she's finally out of the picture. This is my new favorite show for so many reasons (having somehow displaced NCIS for my affections) and I'm really looking forward to seeing where Jeff Eastin will take it in the next couple of seasons.

Andy L said...

I really want to like White Collar more than I do, primarily for the reasons you mention, Alan: Bomer and Dekay, plus the premise. But the fact of the matter is I never buy that the show has any real stakes, I am not the least bit interested in the over arching storyline, and Moz is becoming more and more of a cartoon character or worse, just a prop to show up with the right skill or the right information just when necessary.

And the inclusion/exclusion of Tiffani Thiessen is getting rediculous. They realized early on that they didn't want her to be the typical shrew wife nagging her husband to stop working so much, but by going so completely in the opposite direction they forgot to give her anything else to play. She shows up in every episode always chipper and supportive and caring. Tiffani Thiessen might be a good actress for all we know. They just haven't given her a chance to do anything.

And what happened to Natalie Morales? Is she off the show? Her function seems to have been replaced by the black agent whose name I never seem to remember.

Steph said...

I'm still split on Kate. If it turns out she's been playing Neal, it really gives us no reason to be so invested in actually hating Fowler. It's really just two corrupt people working together and then -- boom -- off to jail they go.

Now if Kate is being held by Fowler (I'm assuming it's through a tracking device much like Neal is forced to wear), it gives us every reason to want to see Fowler go down in flames and still have Neal get the girl.

I'd really have no problem with the second option playing out only to have Neal turn around and walk away from her because he realizes he needs to really start leaving the past behind. It would show a lot of growth in the character, while still protecting the assets he has. (Thereby keeping the show interesting because he's still walking that tight rope).

As I said last week, I really love this show. I think the comedy is well-played and Garson is just hilarious in the role. I have a feeling we'll start to see more of his underground connections soon enough -- yet another reason to keep watching.

cgeye said...

It's weird, but this week a crime actually *mattered*, solely because the economy we live in made so many bubbles that we had to see Peter change his mind about whether it was a crime or not.

Some high-rollers being scammed by a boiler room is almost predator-vs-predator -- there's never something for nothing, right? But a collusion between a judge and an FBI agent to keep the looting of people's homes and futures going? Hang 'em high.

The scam might have been pushed to the side for you, but for me it highlighted just how scummy Fowler was. He might not benefit personally from the mortgage scam, but he sure didn't mind having a judge in his pocket in order to pursue his own agenda, which sure as hell can't be explained as a lust for a silly McGuffin music box. Where the anger should be is at the system, and if Eastin's good, we'll get there. In the meantime, we've got the pretty and the witty, and that can sustain.

But I still want this show to go deeper, and a handsome boy modeling and pining over his vapid symbol of a gal sure ain't it. We've haven't seen the victims, not the ugly ones, not the angry ones, only the ones with enough poise to enter a FBI office.

As with DAMAGES, the crimes don't seem real because the victims don't seem real -- but then, that would damage the pretty high-gloss both shows feature as a guilty pleasure.

Red said...

I can take WC or leave it. When I manage to catch it, I like Neal and Mozzie. However, regarding cons, I prefer Leverage, which is appointment TV for me.

I do have a gripe about the characters, specifically the missing female characters. Peter's wife has very little to do, Morales has disappeared, Diahann Carroll has disappeared. Kate's the enigmatic woman who Neal's obsessed with, she's not a character, she's a concept. Jones (the black guy) barely has any lines.

What do we have left? A bunch of white guys. Granted I like the I trust you/I don't trust you going on between Peter and Neal, and Neal's hair and blue, blue eyes. But I also need more.

Chad said...

I think the "Kate problem" with White Collar stems from the pilot. Specifically, I think it was a creative mistake to limit the number of Kate scenes in the premiere. Now, this may be a result of factors besides storytelling (e.g., casting/contract complications), but the pilot desperately needed to provide sympathy for Neal's desire to reunite with her despite the near-conclusion of his prison sentence.

Kate has been cast now, and the show can still provide reasons to care, but the writers seem more interested in keeping the mystery than providing the emotional substance. And with great chemistry between Bomer and DeKay, that is a particular shame.

Anonymous said...

OK, this is a strange question, but did they mis-spell the title? I swear my TiVo listed it as "Judgement." (Not that this really matters to anyone or anything...)

Anonymous said...

I like this show and I especially like the interaction between "the suit" Peter and Peter and his henchman Moz. I agree that females are not represented well on this show but then again is the FBI in "real" life a beacon of gender and racial intergration? Maybe not. This show always brings a smile to my face. I don't delve too much in the mechanics of it, I just sit back and enjoy it. And Peter is so very easy on the eyes!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry In my prior post I meant Neal, although Peter is not chopped liver, Neal is easy on the eyeballs!! LOL Especially when he wears a hat!!!

cgeye said...

"I agree that females are not represented well on this show but then again is the FBI in "real" life a beacon of gender and racial intergration? Maybe not."

This show's pilot? Was filled with women. Interestng women; women of different ages and desires; women who were part of the lives of the main characters. They made Kate sorta superfluous, but now that all but the wife are gone, Kate's hollowness is too obvious to ignore.

Did she run cons with Peter? Why did she wait for him, during prison? Did she have her own scams going on? If we don't know these answers -- hell, if she ever had a conversation that passed the Bechdel Test -- then we don't care for her beyond her role as a MacGuffin.

Anonymous said...

Could Kate be related to Elizabeth and/or Peter?

DeeTV said...

OK, this is a strange question, but did they mis-spell the title? I swear my TiVo listed it as "Judgement." (Not that this really matters to anyone or anything...)

My dictionary has it both ways:
judgment |ˈjəjmənt| (also judgement)
1 the ability...

Maybe they were using the spelling with the 'e' as a play on words? As in "Bad Judge", since the judge was crooked.

As for the show, I think it's getting a little better. Last week I wrote I was getting tired of it, especially of Matt B's acting. But this week, I thought the leads played against each other better and I found Neal a little more appealing.

Lilly said...

I like White Collar, for the Peter/Neal chemistry, the way they investigate and, I have to admit Matthew Bomer with a hat. BUt I agree with what has been said, I don't care at all about Kate and wish Neal would just move on already.

The one thing I don't like at all is how female characters seem to disappear without an explanation. In the pilot, there was this strong, beautiful, lesbian agent who just never came back and now the character played by Nathalie Morales seems to be gone. I thought they got rid of the first one because the audience would rather had have a character neal could have a romantic relationship with (and that made sense if Kate is a bad guy) but why take off the air the only female so far who at least pretended to resist Neal's charm??

Anonymous said...

Usually I do not enjoy criminal shows like White Collar. However, I truly enjoy the show. I find Neal's clever plans, their constant alluding to his past criminal life, and his different disguises hilarious. As for Kate, I never really cared for her. As for the lack of female empowerment, it would be odd to have a woman as Peter or even a woman as Neal because, the bond that the producers have developed between Neal and Peter works better with two men. There are women, such as Kate, June, Lauren, and Diana, plus the occasional woman in the plotline of that episode. Frankly, I could care less what gender the characters are just so long as the show is…good. And White Collar is a good show.