Monday, 9 November 2009

WHITE COLLAR 1.3 - "Book Of Hours"

Monday, 9 November 2009

[SPOILERS] Oh, the beauty of Twitter. After watching this third episode, I posted a quick response about my qualms over continuing with White Collar, only to get a response from creator Jeff Eastin drop into my replies box. This led to a brief two-way chat about what I considered the pro's and con's of the show so far, which hopefully Mr. Eastin found helpful. It's certainly a worrisome time when a new show makes it to air, as the writers are still finding their feet and trying to hit a groove as quickly as possible before audiences grow weary. We're a fickle bunch...

"Book Of Hours" was split into two distinct chapters for me. I didn't really care for the premise (about an expensive Bible stolen from a mob boss' local church, apparently by a hobo who thought it could heal his sick dog), but I was eventually won over once the show started to add some more intriguing layers. This was primarily achieved by making Cafferty's (Matthew Bomer) intentions quite ambiguous, as the search for the missing Bible eventually led them to sexy art historian Maria Fiametta, with whom Cafferty convinced he could help move the book if she helps him escape his FBI custodians.

The subplot also pushed along the mystery over Cafferty's girlfriend's disappearance, as a map of the New York subway appeared on the label when in close contact with heat from a candle. It feels a little ridiculous that she's gone to this much trouble to leave clues for her boyfriend to find her, but it's certainly intriguing and a more compelling lead for Cafferty to follow without arousing suspicion in Burke (Tim DeKay). I just wish we really cared about their relationship, as she's little more than a cipher right now. It may have worked better if we'd had a few flashbacks to their life together in the pilot, as I don't feel emotionally invested in Cafferty's plight yet. Hopefully we'll get a few episodes from his girlfrend's current perspective soon, to help make her a real person in our minds and not just "the girlfriend". Seriously, even her name escapes me...

Overall, "Book Of Hours" was better than last week's episode but it still didn't have the swagger and charm of the pilot. I really want to believe in Burke as a brilliant FBI agent and Cafferty his counterpart from the opposite side of the tracks, but neither seem exemplary right now. There should be a compelling Ying/Yang feel to their characters, both men should learn something from the other, and there should be a certain degree of real tension in their relationship, but it's all a bit too comfortable and smooth right now. Sometimes I forget Cafferty's even supposed to be a genius conman/hustler, as he hasn't brought many of those skills to bear on the past two episodes. He's charming and suave, but the danger's missing. It took guest star Kirk Acevedo (formerly of Fringe, now typecast as a Fed?) to remind us that Cafferty's mere presence is supposed to be a bone of contention in the department.

I'll stick with White Collar for a few more weeks at least, as everything deserves a chance and "Book Of Hours" was a definite improvement over "Threads", but I personally hope they start having fun with the idea that an exemplary FBI man has been partnered with a genius swindler. So far, this isn't quite the Catch Me If You Can, Midnight Run and 48 Hours mash-up that the pilot appeared to introduce.

6 November 2009
USA Network, 9/8c

written by: Tom Garrigus directed by: John T. Kretchmer starring: Matthew Bomer (Neal Caffrey), Tim DeKay (Peter Burke), Natalie Morales (Agent Lauren Cruz), Willie Garson (Mozzie) & Tiffani Thiessen (Elizabeth Burke)