The first thought that popped into my head when USA debuted 'White Collar' last season was, 'So, they made 'Catch Me If You Can' into a TV show, eh?' With my already packed TV schedule I didn't make it a point to watch the series. Then I was assigned the Blu-ray to review. This is the first time I've laid eyes on an episode of 'White Collar,' and I've got to say, I'm very impressed. As a matter of fact, I downright love this show now!
Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a world-renowned con-man. He's smooth. He knows how to work the system. In the pilot episode he escapes from a maximum-security prison like it's a walk in the park. There's nothing he can't do. His nemesis is FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). He's the one who put Caffrey away in the first place. Burke works for the White Collar crime unit in the Bureau, investigating everything from mortgage fraud to art theft. Caffrey cuts a deal with the FBI after his escape attempt and re-incarceration, after he finds out that Burke is looking for a con-man that he can help bring in. A life-long smooth criminal is now in Federal custody, wearing a tamper-proof ankle bracelet, helping the FBI nab the world's most clever con-people.
'White Collar' works on a few levels, one being the charisma of Matt Bomer and the chemistry he has with Tim DeKay. Their interaction is one of the many highlights of this well-written show. Bomer looks like a con-man. He looks like a person who could fake his way into being anything he wanted himself to be. DeKay is a by-the-book FBI agent, but there's nothing about him that's formula.
The formula for the show is similar to series like 'Burn Notice.' There are a few storylines that are pulled into season-long drama, but each episode stands alone with the over-reaching story arcs sprinkled throughout. Here Caffrey is desperately searching for his girlfriend who he thinks might be in danger. Most episodes start and end with tidbits about where she is, while each episode focuses on a different case Burke and Caffrey have to solve together.
Usually the case solving means that Caffrey must go in undercover by assuming an alias and infiltrating crooked groups of people doing illegal things. This is easy for Caffrey, because it's what he did for a living (allegedly). One plot hole that did nag at me is the fact that Caffrey on more than one occasion refers to the world of con-men and art thieves as a very small world, but Caffrey is hardly recognized by people dabbling in the same industry.
Despite the one discrepancy, 'White Collar' is a fun, exciting, and entertaining show. The episodes fly by, and the stories are original. This series is a nice surprise indeed.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The Blu-ray series of 'White Collar arrives complete on three 50GB Blu-ray discs. It comes in your standard keepcase packaging, with a disc holder that swings in the middle, which houses two of the three discs. Each disc has its own section for extras which contain the commentaries for that disc, but the bulk of the special features are found on the third disc.
The first disc is the only one with advertisements, which play before the menu. The other discs go straight to the the menu. A word to the wise, the menu music is pumped up at full volume and can be jarring after coming back from a soft special feature from which you had to turn up the sound to hear, like the "Gag Reel."
After watching the show on Blu-ray I turned on USA and watched some of the high-def broadcasts of the show. I have Comcast, but as with most shows broadcast in high-def the inadequate bandwidth provided often results in a presentation full of all kinds of digital artifacts, mostly very annoying macro-blocking. The Comcast delivery isn't any different. While 'White Collar' looks great in high-def, when shown on TV the image is littered with blocking almost the entire time.
Bringing the show to Blu-ray shows exactly what we were missing. One thing 'White Collar' does so well is showcase so many different, stunning angles of New York, I can't believe this is the same city I've seen over and over in shows like 'Law and Order.' 'White Collar's low angle shots take in the New York skyline like no other show on TV. Its wide angle shots show off Central Park and the surrounding areas in dazzling detail. 'White Collar' has a smooth, polished look and Blu-ray is the perfect place to show it off.
Here you'll get none of those pesky digital artifacts you get during while watching it on TV. The 1080p transfer of 'White Collar' is pristinely clear and deeply detailed. While there are a few soft shots here and there, for the most part each shot in 'White Collar' has fine detail popping out everywhere. Did I mention that almost every episode you get to see Tiffani Thiessen in HD? That's never a bad thing! Black levels are dark, shadow delineation is very strong and detailed. Crushing is never a problem during darker interior or nighttime scenes. Detail pops off the screen from the textures of Neal's fine suits to the delicate facial features of a matured Kelly Kapowski. Nighttime scenes suffer from some slight source noise, but other than that the transfer is clean.
I still can't get over some of the shots of New York in this though. While some fly-overs feature a bit of aliasing while the camera pans over skyscrapers full of tiny rows of windows, each and every one of their city shots looks spectacular.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 packs just as much punch as the 1080p video. From the theme music that booms during the menu, to the end credits, this is one fine sounding TV sound presentation. While the show lacks the sort of explosion-filled action that made a show like '24' sound phenomenal on Blu-ray, it still plays nice with what it's got.
Heavy on the talk, 'White Collar' finds itself with a perfectly intelligible dialog mix that never sounds hushed or muted. Dialog is always presented clearly through the center channel, finding its way into the front side speakers whenever directionality of voices is needed. LFE is constantly going, mainly due to the bass-heavy musical soundtrack that interjects whenever there's a fadeout where commercials would have been. If anything a little too much attention in the mix is paid to the music. The menu gets downright distracting to listen to if it plays in its set loop for more than two or three times. Maybe the music is pumped up to give the show more of an action-y feel, but it doesn't need to be. Going along with the TV origins and the fact that most of the movie takes place inside Burke's house, or the FBI offices, we don't get much in the way of ambient sound coming through the rear speakers. Some parties, crowded city streets, and restaurant scenes lend themselves to light surround sound, but nothing spectacular. Again, this really isn't the fault of the mix, rather its just a product of it being a TV show and the fact that the show really doesn't have much going on in the periphery most of the time.
"Pilot" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen, and Willie Garson
"Free Fall" – Features Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Willie Garson, and Tim DeKay
"Hard Sell" – Features Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, and Tim DeKay
"Vital Signs" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKa, and Tiffani Thiessen
"Out of the Box" – Features Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer
'White Collar' was a nice surprise. I couldn't fit it into my busy TV watching schedule, but viewing it on Blu-ray is the way to see it anyway. No pesky commercials, no irritating blocking artifacts. I've fallen in love with the show partly because of the story, partly because of the characters, and partly because of Tiffani Thiessen (I admit it! Kelly Kapowski still inhabits my dreams!). The video on here is excellent, and the audio is pretty good for a TV show. This set comes recommended, and seeing the recent trend of TV show to Blu-ray, fans of the show need to buy this one or we'll see the studios pull another 'Burn Notice' on us. I for one don't want only one season of 'White Collar' on Blu-ray, so please buy this set. For the good of us all!