WHITE COLLAR: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Matt Bomer as NEAL CAFFREY
Tim DeKay as PETER BURKE
Willie Garson as MOZZIE
Tiffani Thiessen as ELIZABETH BURKE
Sharif Atkins as CLINTON JONES
Marsha Thomason as DIANA BARRIGAN
Hilarie Burton as SARA ELLIS
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Created by: Jeff Eastin
BY KEVIN CARR
There’s something comfortable about basic cable shows, especially those that air on USA Network. While they’re not always great (looking at you, “Burn Notice”), they’re disposable series that make breezy television watching.
The bottom line is that sometimes you don’t want maximum intensity for your series. Sometimes, the shows on FX are just a bit too much. USA Networks offers a nice slate of series that you can enjoy comfortably without things getting too heavy.
“White Collar” is my go-to show for this type of television viewing. For the most part, the series is a fun and clever bit of police procedural with a solid cast and some unique elements to it. A lot of it hinges on the stars – Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay – who have great chemistry and balance each other out well. Of course, Willie Garson as Mozzie is one of the best supporting characters you’ll find on television today, and he adds that extra fun to the mix.
With the exception of the episode or two at the top and bottom of the season, most of the fourth season of “White Collar” lives up to what I expect from the series. Like any series dating back to the 80s, the end-of-the-season cliffhangers always infuse a bit of escalated drama. I’m not wild about that because I prefer the even keel nature of the show. However, with a successful series, you can always expect things to simmer down by the third episode in. Predictability is an asset in a series like this.
We come into season four with Neal Caffrey (Bomer) on the run, and a ruthless agent (Mekhi Phifer) is trying to bring him in. Peter Burke (DeKay) travels around the globe to bring Neal home safely, and soon things are back to normal in the “White Collar” world.
There are some moments in this season where things get more intense for the characters, including the death of a side character that sets the second half of the season in motion. This brings up some elements of Caffrey’s past that shed more light onto his character. Some character development here is good, though it does send the show down the “shit gets real” path that can make things overly intense and mess with the dynamic of the overall series.
Another fly in the ointment of this series is bringing Hilarie Burton as Sara Burton into the show on a more full-time basis. I never was a fan of her character, and even though she’s easy on the eyes (though a bit too skinny for my tastes), she just isn’t an interesting enough character to justify her existence in the cast. Don’t get me wrong, she’s no Jesse from “Burn Notice,” but I hope they reduce her screen time considerably in season five.
The only other complaint I have are the occasional episode that serves as an excuse to bring forth fandom from one of the writers or actors. In this season, it’s the episode entitled “Empire City,” which brings back the Cotton Club and features Diahann Carroll in a spotlight role. Others may like this, but I’m grumpy about these things, I suppose.
Still, even with the warts that can come with a fourth season struggling to keep thing moving forward without messing too much with the week-to-week comfort of the series, “White Collar” is still quite enjoyable.
The fourth season DVD set includes all 16 episodes on four discs. Special features are still decent for the show being in its fourth year. These include deleted scenes, a gag reel and a featurette on Tim DeKay as the director of an episode (the aforementioned Cotton Club episode I didn’t like). Finally, there’s a commentary track on the season finale featuring DeKay, Bomer, Garson and series creator Jeff Eastin.