Con man Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) has spent months and months now in the service of the FBI alongside Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), serving his sentence by consulting on his wide-ranging areas of criminal expertise. Nealís girlfriend was in hiding, controlled by a corrupt FBI agent, until Neal thought he had set up a deal to let them escape together. An explosion killed Nealís girlfriend Kate, though, and Neal attempts to recover and solve the mystery of who killed her for the entire season. Other cases pass quickly through Neal and Peterís way, and each are solved with clever teamwork between the two, but Neal must find a way to move on from his loss.
For quite some time now, the trend started by the pay cable channels like HBO of offering their own original scripted programming has been taken up by nearly all cable stations. Basic cable network USA has distinguished itself as one such channel with series worth making time for. The second season of White Collar sharply advances engaging plotting and character development with every sleekly produced episode.
Some of the series on the USA network are in an unusual situation because the way the channel schedules its seasons, breaking them up into two halves. For instance, half of one season of White Collar airs in the summer, the second half during winter. From the very beginning, the writers cunningly used this to their advantage putting a bit of a feint of a cliffhanger at the end of the middle episode of the season. This second season continues this with a stunning moment I wonít spoil. What I will note is that the fact that these plot points feel like an extension of the tone of the series--cons done well--and not a contrivance is a credit to the sharp writing of this show.
Essentially, itís the characters that are central to this show, as are the relationships between them. The issue of whether Peter can trust Neal is always underlying everything but they have a solid friendship that hangs in the balance. Neal goes through the death of Kate but by the end of the season has acted on an attraction between him and insurance investigator Sarah, played by Hilarie Burton. Matt Bomer carries this storyline mostly by himself as Burton is a bit bland, but they manage an adequate chemistry.
The central relationship of this show is Nealís with Peter, of course, Bomer and Tim DeKay truly making their friendship soar. They get a chance to explore their characters during their first ever face to face meeting in a flashback episode, and the audience is also treated to a cheeky episode where circumstances force them to switch identities.
Television doesnít get much more entertaining than White Collar, and the second season has the fabulous writing and cool performances that distinguish the show from all others.
White Collar is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer of the 16 episodes of season two onto these four discs is spectacular, with a perfect preservation of brightness and contrast throughout. In terms of DVD quality, the picture here is as sharp as Nealís suits!
The soundtrack is transferred excellently in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track in which every quip comes through loud and clear! No other language tracks are offered, but there are English, Spanish, and French subtitles available.
Audio Commentaries: Three episodes get commentary tracks on these four discs. Creator/executive producer Eastin joins with lead actors Bomer and DeKay on each track, and they are joined on a couple of episodes by actors Garson and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who plays PeterĎs wife Elizabeth. The affection between all of these people is clearly evident on these tracks, and they all have clever quips to make about whatís going on in a scene. Bomer and DeKay, for example, jokingly pretend the sub hatch they open in the finale is extremely heavy. We also learn just how much Bomer did of his own stunt in the ďPoint BlankĒ episode. Very fun to listen to these tracks.
So Hereís the Deal: Anatomy of an Episode: This excellent extra is akin to the making-of docs you find with films on DVD. The affection these actors and crew members have for each other is palpable as they detail what went into the filming of the second season finale. The New York locations used are discussed, as well as the fact that everything showing the sub in the episode in full size is green screen. It is also so great to see DeKay hear great things about the show from a fan and be so appreciative to her. Also, look for the FUNNY bit by Bomer at the end when heís talking about the crew!
Slick Willie: For about five minutes, actor Willie Garson and his memorable character Mozzie get the focus they deserve in this extra. Some of Mozzieís adorable lines are shown as Garsonís co-stars praise him. It is also fun to hear that Garson says Mozzie is the character most like him he has played. Definitely watch this one.
Deleted Scenes: A handful of episodes feature some excised scenes. They would make a tad more sense shown with an indication of what scenes precede and follow them but they are of as high quality as the show itself. I particularly like the Mozzie and June scene from the middle of the season and the scene where Peter has to ďCaffreyĒ his way out of a sticky situation in the episode where he and Neal have to switch identities. Itís GREAT!
Gag Reel: Aside from Bomer cursing quite a bit when he flubs a line, this reel of outtakes is simply the usual on-set antics that actors engage in and mess ups youíll find on any such reel. It is still funny, though.
White Collar Roasts Burn Notice: This is a funny extra in which the creators/executive producers of Burn Notice and White Collar get together and rag on each otherís shows. Here, the White Collar writers point out the characteristics of Burn Notice that are ripe for mockery. Itís shameless cross-promotion for USA but thatís to be expected. Cute and funny.
Burn Notice Roasts White Collar: This is the flip side of the above extra. The writers of Burn Notice take digs at the characteristics of White Collar. Makes less impact than the complaints about Burn Notice from the White Collar writers but that may just be my bias!
White Collar follows up its slick first season with a second that progresses the characters and plots beautifully, while the performances are a delight and the visuals crisp. It is just a cool show in every way and the nice array of special features make purchasing this set an even better deal for fans. Many viewers will want to enjoy Neal and Peterís adventures in seasons one and two before tuning into the third season which just began airing of White Collar.