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Friday, 22 of August of 2014

Tag » White Collar

White Collar – “Wanted”

“The Suit’s here with Island Suit. It’s a double-barreled suit!”

Maya and Neal gaze at a model of the New York City skyline.

“Wait until you see my Mothra suit.”

On the carpet of his office in his penultimate season, Gregory House stared at the ceiling and considered a decision that would be snap or less than snap just a few months prior.

The issue was that House could either lie to his girlfriend or let a person die. Even to a person with romantic principles, he would seem ethically-justified to betray Cuddy’s trust. But the heart of “Office Politics” is that he is put on a decision and that he’s not really mulling these options as much as he is debating whether his relationship with Cuddy is making him a lesser doctor. It was. House was being a punk.

I bring this to your attention only because White Collar has its own romance, if a little less mushy than Huddy, that raises a question of whether the participants are better or worse for their coupling. The events of last season’s finale raises the stakes but also unabashedly pushes Peter and Neal over the edge from being merely affected by each other to being changed men.

But is it for the better? And when are these crazy kids just going to do it already?

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White Collar – “Countdown”

“Jerry would never let you get that far.”

Neal recaptures his swagger after a base jump.

Probably the most unbelievable part after base-jumping unnoticed onto a busy street is that the hat he tossed down in front of him sat on a New York sidewalk for 30 whole seconds and hadn't been peed on yet.


What a bunch of crap led up to this episode. White Collar needs to stop doing favors for their actor friends.

Letting Tiffani Thiessen’s husband be the villain-of-the-week a couple episodes ago pushed the show off the very thin tightrope they walk every week above Campy and made it come off as a monster-hybrid short of a Syfy original. And Eliza Dushku last week, bless her heart, those pouty lips, and her perky — well, everything, but, when miscast, she has the delivery of day player given her first speaking role (I honestly cringed when she quoted The Book of the Dead). Unfortunate timing for her to be in scenes where they reintroduce the closest thing to a big bad White Collar has had since Fowler.

Yeah, the lead up to the summer finale wasn’t stellar. But they have to give us something and the White Collar Writer’s Room kept demanding via Twitter for East Coast not to ruin the episode for the West Coast. So I assumed that something good had to happen, that the art treasure storyline was going to finally come to a head.

I need to stop listening to Twitter. Read more »


White Collar – “Taking Account”

“Blow it up on his face.”

Sally "the Vulture," hacker (played by Lena Headey)

Hackers don't look this good. Period. If they did, they wouldn't spend their time looking up fake nude pics of Felicia Day.


Usually the opening quote of these reviews are telling, well-crafted lines that either encapsulate the episode on the whole or it’s just a gem I want to share. This line is neither. Sometimes I’m just 14 and it makes me laugh.

That line comes from the mouth of Peter Burke and will probably be featured in a new incarnation of the “Let’s Enhance” video. He’s talking about some surveillance video he gains through a hacker in his employ, from a bank that must have HD cameras installed at all exits since “blowing it up on his face” didn’t degrade the image quality at all. But I suppose I shouldn’t be nitpicky.

My eyes roll when shows do episodes revolving around technology and hacker culture. The scripts tend to become a list of keywords and misused terminology and it’s so transparent that the writers don’t necessarily understand the solution to their story problem and just type in what the consultant tells them to write. I imagine hospital shows sound the same to an doctors. Unless sarcoidosis actually does come up in every differential ever.

However, I don’t blame White Collar for sounding like every procedural that tackles technology. Sure, they make their computer nerds gorgeous (generally not the case) and their apartments ridiculously well-outfitted (the wall of expenive 25-inch monitors in a hacker’s pad is probably way more rare than you think) but you have to expect that kind of thing with the “blue skies” look. This isn’t The Wire; gritty reality has no place here. No, my issue with the show of late comes more from it falling into tropy pitfalls. The season started off with a bang and it’s been stalling, things like Worried Wife and Syrupy Character Development (I wish I had the time to review the Mozzie-focused episode — what a cheesey/saccharine miscue that was) flooding the choke. And even that wouldn’t bother me so much if Myles McNutt hadn’t said that would be the case when I was filling my glass half-full.

I hate it when that smug, Canadian bastard is right.

What I can say, though, is that this particular episode brought a little more development and a little more drama. I would say it’s moving in the right direction. But, sadly, I know better now.

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White Collar – “Where There’s a Will”

“One sentence in and I already hate this conversation.”

Agent Melissa Matthews unwittingly spills the beans to Neal.

Watch out, Neal! You're gonna get killed by beeeeees!

So Myles and I were talking last week, you know, kicking around the old peanut, and we discussed the new seasonal problem established by “On Guard.” No, that seasonal problem isn’t Hilarie Burton being raised to season regular while Sharif Atkins still guest stars. That’s just something the troubles me. No, we’re talking about the new stakes that don’t involve Kate or the music box. This thing with the Nazi treasure and Peter cottoning to being on Neal’s tail. While I think we know that this will take a while to play out, he seems a little more pessimistic than I am, referring to the arc as being “dangled” in front of us while I felt it was going to be more integral to the plot.

I can’t say for sure that’s what Myles meant because (1) I only know him through Twitter and (2) when I say we were “kicking around the old peanut,” I meant that we exchanged about three tweets. An odd number because he didn’t answer me on the last one. Academic critics: always so high and mighty in their ivory towers.

Jury’s still out on how they’re going to use this arc against us especially since we’re so early in the season but I’m winning so far. Unlike the music box and the whole Kate fiasco, Mozzie and Neal conspiring to abscond with the Nazi treasure is figuring into a pretty heavy B-story. Neal seems to actually care what happens to this artwork (unlike the Neal-bot reacting to Kate’s death and the music box mysteries for most of Season 2) and Mozzie has a new focus. Sure, this kind of just rehashing what they did with these two in Season 2.5 but it’s better because this could actually threaten the relationship between Neal and Peter. But you know all that from last week.

This week is step 2 in raising those stakes: reestablish the Peter/Neal bond to make sure we still have something to lose. How’s the best way to do that? A treasure hunt, of course!

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White Collar – “On Guard”

“Think of it like a Kardashian: what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in cargo space.”

Neal and David watch as $60M blows out of the vents.

One step closer to the Money Bin.

It has to be a difficult task to keep blue skies in a world of ethical gray.

When it has to make the choice, White Collar tends to shift more toward “blue skies” than toward the darkness that should lie in Neal’s gray heart. The heroes and villains are clear cut, the “criminals” are more than willing to help the Feds (sometimes only needing a minor amount of arm-twisting), and Neal seems to be all but reformed. Outside of a few sideglances and the occasional twinkle in his eye when he’s impressed by a heist, Neal is the model of turning away from the dark side.

And it doesn’t feel unnatural for him to do so. He and Peter have been getting along (Bomer and DeKay’s chemistry is pretty solid) and Neal clearly loves being able to use his criminal mind without having to make an escape plan. But the show blunts its edge by making it less about “once a con-man, always a con-man” serving a the man who caught him (and enjoys the spoils) in what is essentially a glorified indentured servitude and making it more of a buddy cop show where one has the police brain while the other has the street smarts. Besides hints from Neal’s thieving buddies like Alex or Mozzie, it was starting to feel like Neal had turned his back on his past, particularly with the painful music box plot out of the way.

That’s why I’m glad season 3 looks to bring more of that edge back to the show without all that “Kate” pretense. And we don’t have to hear more about the music box. And that there is (or at least should be) more opportunities for Alex to come back, especially with Hilarie Burton being raised to season regular on the show. What a nothing character she plays.

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White Collar – “Point Blank”

“You’re looking very ‘To Catch a Thief’ tonight.”

Neal finally confront Fowler about Kate's death.

“Be afraid of my fancy-pants gun!”

I was hoping for some surfing and for Neal and Peter to come out wearing President masks, but then I realized that the title isn’t “Point Break.” And that this isn’t Psych.

You know how when you’re playing with a dog, dangling a rope toy or something? You dangle it in front of him/her and the dog, depending on age and health, will be ready to hunt for it, snapping, champing at the bit (literally) to get a piece of that rope toy. But say you keep it out of reach of the dog, either in hope s/he will go to further lengths to get it or to exert your authority over the animal or both. You never get the response you want, though. Instead of trying harder to get the toy, the dog will generally get tired of the game, lose interest, feel like the s/he’s engaged in something s/he wasn’t meant to be a part of, and then promptly find a corner to lick him/herself quietly.

That’s how I feel about Kate. Her intangibility doesn’t make me want to know more about her. It makes me care not at all. And Neal didn’t help me this season to change my mind. Because he seemed to care even less. That is until the summer finale and then, suddenly, the seasonal arc is far more important than it was all season, Neal becomes the desperate man I had an inkling he might become but to no real emotional reward. In fact, the only person that really matters to me anymore is Mozzie. Poor, sweet Mozzie.

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What to Look Out For This Week

As you’ve probably read a thousand times today in your friends’ Facebook statuses and uninspired tweets, Labor Day marks the end of summer. But that means it’s only the beginning for television. The fall season is fast approaching and, with it, a slew of new content to watch, consume, and make you feel good about life/hate the hacks that trick you into watching stuff on the picture tube. Here at Monsters of Television, we hope to help you cut through the garbage and check out the things we’re looking forward to this week.

Mad Men – “The Suitcase”

I know this aired on Sunday night but the episode is that good. If you haven’t caught it yet, set your DVRs for the re-runs this week. Then read the reviews (including ours).

Gilmore Girls

You’ve heard me mention it about a hundred times on this site, between Parenthood reviews and any opportunity I can fit it in (it’s like Lost with Matt), but it’s time you caught up. ABC Family will start the re-run cycle of Gilmore Girls this Tuesday and play the entire series in order from the beginning. Stick with it. It’s good. Swear, dude. Well, until Season 3 and then it goes bad for a while. But come back for late season 3, early season 4. I defy you to deny Lorelai Gilmore. Starting Tuesday, 5PM on ABC Family

Warehouse 13 – “Where and When”

Bridging the gap between the end of summer TV and the beginning of the fall season, Warehouse 13 continues blending historical fiction with science fiction and adding to the reasons why Syfy might actually be able to compete with network and cable original programming. Allison Scagliotti (who plays Claudia Donovan, a student of the Veronica Mars school of snark) teased via her twitter account: “Ever wonder what would happen if #Warehouse13 ate an episode of #MadMen? Tune in tonight for a blast from the past.” Tuesday, 9PM on Syfy

Hellcats – “A Word Full of Strangers”

Stars Alyson Michalka and Ashley Tisdale aren’t just trying out for the competitive cheer squad, they’re gonna have to prove to the audience that they can step up from their Disney Channel pasts. Keeping with the CW staple of very pretty pretty young people and a Top 40 soundtrack, Hellcats is hoping to help land its network at the top of the pyramid. Will it stick the landing? Wednesday, 8PM on The CW

White Collar – “Point Blank”

The summer finale looks to explore what’s inside of the music box, a lazy plot point that has meandered through this season, ranking in importance just under what happened to Kate (something Neal has only had a casual interest in this season). Interesting in the promo is Neal’s use of a gun, which, as any viewer knows, is the mark of dubious characters in the series. 98% of me says that it’s part of a con but part of me thinks it might be the act of a desperate man (plus, Alex comes back — hooray!). Tuesday, 10PM on USA

Psych – “One, Maybe Two, Ways Out”

So Psych’s summer finale probably won’t finish as strong as the season finale (or probably most of the episodes coming up on the latter half of this season) but it should be a fun romp, especially now that they’ve introduced the possibility of Shules (though odds that something important in that relationship will occur here: slim). Wednesday, 10PM on USA

Terriers – “Pilot”

The pedigree is strong with the writer of Ocean’s 11 and Shawn Ryan from The Shield. Donal Logue appears to be playing the character I wanted Jason Lee to play in Memphis Beat, a detective down on his luck, sinking to rock bottom, hustling, trying to make it all work. It looks good and has a lot of potential, even though FX is throwing a ton of marketing behind it (which, as we know from Paul Blart, Mall Cop, that means they’re not sure the show can sell itself). Wednesday, 10PM on FX

Nikita – “Pilot

Remember when USA aired an action show about a highly trained operative with vague ties to the government? No, no, not Burn Notice. Le Femme Nikita! Yeah, it aired on USA from 1997 to 2001 (right before the network’s retooling began), and has no been remade with the ever awesome Maggie Q. No doubt some things have changed, but as long as there’s conspiracy and ass-kicking, it’ll hopefully be entertaining. Thursday 9PM on The CW

Chuck Presents – Buy Hard: The Jeff and Lester Story

While not necessarily something that’s going to air on television, the people at Chuck did the thing we hoped they would by making a webisode series based on Jeff and Lester going on the lam. (Un)fortunately, they used this opportunity to also tie in some sponsorship so the series will serve as a paid advertising for Halo: Reach. You can catch the web series all this week on the Warner Bros. page for Chuck.


There is a Problem with the Pears – This Week in Monster

These are pears.

We’ll discuss it later.

It’s been a busy week at Monsters of Television. This whole “summer-is-just-another-season/no-rest-for-the-weary” thing the networks are doing is wearing me out. But we can’t really complain about some of the great television we’re getting. Well, mostly great television. Hopefully Melissa & Joey doesn’t create a great abyss that sucks the life out of everything we hold dear. Forget the atomic collider in Switzerland: that show might obliterate the universe on its own, unraveling the fabric of time and space with ill-timed canned laughter and overacting that would make the cast of SNL blush.

Sorry. I digress.

We have some really great reviews for you to take a look at this week, from Mad Men to True Blood to Sherlock to, gods help us, that aforementioned pit of despair. If you missed any, it’s new to you!

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White Collar – “In the Red”

“You must not think I have an honest bone.”

Peter and Neal discuss the mother they just arrested.

If you want to look extra condescending, you have to give big eyes.

You have to be happy White Collar came around when it did rather than a few years ago when the country was gripped by No Limit Hold ‘Em television (later remarked by several as the end of a varied game weekly poker night). You couldn’t flip a channel without seeing some poor schlub taking his cards too seriously, wearing Blu-Blockers and iPod earbuds to hide his tells, or some minor celebrity shuffling his or her chips for charity. I would imagine with the weight media outlets were throwing behind the game, we would see confidence man Neal Caffrey slumped behind a card table far more than we do now. And it’s just not where he belongs.

Clearly, that place is finding excuses to take his shirt off for visitors.

The stuff with Not-Dead Kate is starting to come to a simmer (though a lukewarm one if that’s possible) and we get an interesting nuance in the idea of criminality in the White Collar gaze. Apparently the “heart of gold” status extends further than just to prostitutes in the Old West.

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White Collar – “By the Book” and “Unfinished Business”

“Why are you in a federal building dressed like Truman Capote?”

Mozzie suddenly realizes the flaw in the Perfect Exchange: there is no middle man.

Despite his wealth of experience later to disarm the gun, Mozzie’s situation here seems pretty hopeless.

While the former is more entertaining than the latter, these two episodes fit well together in doing something other summer shows like Psych don’t often do. They willingly put their characters in situations that truly test them, drowning them in sensitive predicaments. Sure, Burn Notice puts Team Westen on compromising missions all the time but the characters are never truly out of control, especially given the nature of our current Secret/Federal Agent zeitgeist where these characters can do anything bordering on the supernatural with little to no exposition (spies are the new superheroes). What these two episodes offer, if however brief in this week’s show, are two characters we truly have affection for (Mozzie and Neal) getting in over their heads.

That seems like something simple, even formulaic, for a weekly scripted hour-long but that’s where this show walks the line between broad drama and it’s more specific kin, the procedural. Again, we find that it is the characters that develop the genre and the White Collar team uses this early season to develop those characters a little more (even if the execution of that exposition is a bit uninspired at times), unafraid to stick them in the boiling water to test a character’s mettle. And, mercifully, that means we can talk a little less about the “death” of Kate.

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