Following so much disappointment, I had just one series yet to look forward too. One series that had earned good early reviews. One series that starred Matthew Bomer. Matt's (he's credited as Matt for White Collar) Bryce Larkin was one of my favorite things about Chuck. During the pilot for Chuck, I thought, "He can't be dead!" Fortunately, he wasn't. Part of me wished he could be a regular, although he would prove distracting from Zachery Levy; part of me thought it would be awesome if he landed the lead role in a good series. A series I would eagerly look forward to each week. And it happened. :)
White Collar's pilot isn't perfect, but it's as well developed and produced a pilot as any I've seen. The mistakes it makes are small and handwaveable given a) it's a pilot and b) the writers needed to quickly establish the premise.
I'm no expert on the U.S. prison system, thankfully, but that was NOT a super max prison. Certainly it would cost more than $700 a month to house a prisoner in super max. It looked more like a medium security facility. And while Neal is prone to escaping custody, he's a non-violent criminal. I don't think they needed to be so specific as to where he was being housed.
I also question, given they are in New York City where everything you need can be found within a few blocks, Neal would be allowed a two mile radius with the anklet. The government is being rather generous.
But those are small quibbles. Everything else is awesome.
The pilot is beautifully photographed and filmed on location in New York. No CGI cityscape or recognizable Vancouver landmark in site! And there is a remarkable attention to detail. June's mansion is gorgeous and representative of a bygone era. Even the much more modest Burke home feels lived in and representative of who they are. Tidy, but not cold, with small, personal touches throughout.
Neal's wardrobe is fabulous and Matt looks fabulous in it. Neal's penchant for vintage clothing and classic tunes (Bobby Darin for the win!) isn't a random quirk assigned to him, it's a natural and essential part of who the character is. Neal Caffrey may be a criminal, but he's a gentleman criminal, and a romantic. He does what he does because he's gifted at it and, yes, to make lots of money, but he's not out to hurt anyone. When he does hurt someone by his actions, his wife Kate, he's devastated. And not because she abandoned him, but because he failed to keep a promise to her.
I feel I need to say that even though I find Matt Bomer devastatingly easy of the eyes and charismatic and with oodles of screen presence, the boy can act. I can't get sucked in by just a pretty face. It just makes me take notice. ;)
But Neal isn't the only unexpected and very welcome character. Tim DeKay's Peter Burke is not your typical FBI agent. He may be the most original FBI agent on TV since Fox Mulder.
Neal may aggravate and frustrate Peter, but Peter also likes him. In a nice twist, Peter isn't saddled with Neal by the FBI; Peter goes to the FBI and presents a case for how Neal could be useful to them. And he's not upset when it's Neal that uncovers a clue that helps catch the bad guy. Peter wants results and isn't bothered if it's him or Neal or anyone on the team that brings them.
Peter reminded me of House in a way. He's a kinder, gentler and hell of a lot happier version of House, but. like House, he enjoys solving puzzles and he's good at it when he has all the pieces. But also like House, he's not particularly good at reading people. That's where Neal helps. He understands the mind of a thief and, more importantly, artist. He knew to look for the "CH" printed on the bond and it was telling that in Peter's pursuit of Neal, he never saw the "NC" hidden within Neal's work.
Ultimately, what I enjoy most about the series is the friendship between Neal and Peter. There's respect between the two. There's admiration. Peter's impressed when Neal uncovers a piece of evidence; Neal's impressed when Peter recounts capturing him. I love it was Neal's plan to be taken into the warehouse that cracks the case and that the two men can hang out on the desk, proud of what they accomplished, together. And I suspect it was Peter who signed off on Neal becoming an FBI consultant rather than just being the con helping them out.
I was going to talk about what a great idea it was to make Diana a lesbian so we could avoid years of UST and will they/won't they, but I'm not sure if Diana is in future episodes. I didn't see her in any previews and imdb only lists the actress as appearing in one episode.
I did love Peter's, "We don't ask; we don't care", line regarding Diana's sexuality. It made me think about this past week's FlashForward in which a female FBI agent talks about feeling compelled to stay in the closet. I wonder which show is closer to the truth? It probably depends on who they are working with.
I'm not sure I'll be so verbose in the coming weeks, but, dammit, I need a show to talk about!
Last week, Entertainment Weekly reported that Hulu looks to begin charging for content in 2010. There are numerous 'How dare they!' and 'I'm through with Hulu as soon as they start charging!' statements left in comments. I love how people feel they are owed free TV and movies. How do they think the product they are watching is paid for? When I clicked on the Broadcasting and Cable link within the article I saw the situation is not as dire as EW reported. I've long assumed the day would come when content would become tiered. For instance, if you want to see episodes the day after they air on the network, you'll have to pay. Want to watch a thirty year old episode of Barney Miller? It's free. I'm actually not put out by the thought of possibly having to pay for some content. Maybe I'll cancel part of my cable package.
And forgive me in aadvance for being spammy this evening. I have two BSG related posts I plan on getting finished tonight. :)