When we last left well-dressed con man-turned-FBI consultant Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), he was defending himself to his handler and friend in the FBIís white collar division, Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), over the disappearance of a vast horde of treasure. Peter thought Neal took it; Neal didnít realize his criminal partner Mozzie (Willie Garson) had stolen it as their last big score. Neal tries to keep Peter from finding the truth while they get uneasily back to solving crimes together. After that situation comes to a head, another looms on the horizon--a hearing to commute Nealís sentence. Will he finally be a free man?
After a couple of seasons of a television show, viewers can reasonably tell what to expect episode to episode. With a procedural series, whether it focuses on medical, legal or law enforcement environments, this is particularly true. By giving proper attention to the characters and their interactions, a series can provide plenty of reasons for the audience to watch every week past the second or third year. White Collar in itís third season has wisely placed high stakes on the central relationship between Neal and Peter amid all the slick, entertaining crime solving the show has established as its trademark.
Character has always been something White Collar does well--it airs on the USA network whose slogan is ďCharacters Welcome.Ē After even one episode, the distinctive personalities of Neal, Peter, Mozzie and all the rest are well delineated. Through seasons one and two, the slightly jocular tone and mutual respect of the Neal and Peter teamwork served to underscore Nealís struggle to determine his future path.
The writing of season three excellently progresses up to the point where Nealís commutation hearing becomes the make-or-break moment for this thematic thread. Without spoiling the very end of the season, I can say that a higher-up FBI agent from D.C., Agent Cramer (well played by Beau Bridges), reappears to bring the situation to a crisis point and may well make Nealís decision about his future for him. While fans will have to wait until next season to see exactly what has unfolded for Neal, the last shot will surprise viewers and will DEFINITELY incite eagerness to tune in for the next season of the show.
And that is just the core plot of the show. There are plenty of thrills to be had from Neal and Peterís individual cases and the way we learn new things about Mozzie and how the writers keep using Peterís wife Elizabeth (a solid Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) in ways that are dramatic and expected but somehow still extremely effective. Bomer owns the character of Caffrey by this point and his working chemistry with the talented DeKay as Peter excels perfectly at getting the audience emotionally invested. White Collar maintains what fans want in the series during its third season while still believably and thrillingly advancing the overall plot of the show.
The video format on these four discs is the widescreen ratio in which the series is broadcast every week. Though this is standard definition DVD format (I would love to see this series in BluRay), the transfer is still as good as possible. The fabulous use of color in this show is well-preserved, and the sharpness and contrast in each episode is excellently modulated. Only when there is movement deep in the shot is the image even slightly blurred. Given the fact that they shoot quite a bit through the glass walls of the FBI set, this is even more impressive. Great video transfer on DVD looks like this.
Audio for the originally broadcast English-language track is the usual Dolby Digital 5.1 format that comes along with DVD. The transfer is a clean one, with the volume under good control and all the great dialogue and music of the series clear. English is the only language track on the discs, but there are subtitles to choose from. Aside from English for the hearing impaired, there are also Spanish, French, and Portuguese subtitles offered.
Audio Commentary: Eastin, Bomer, DeKay, and Garson join for a track on the season finale, ďJudgment Day.Ē Garson actually only joins them a few minutes in and the rest of them rip him for being late. They have a good time talking about the finale, revealing lots about shooting. They mention the east coast earthquake that occurred during filming and they heap praise on the recognizable day player actors they worked with in this episode. Eastin also drops a hint about season 4, too. Fans will definitely want to give this a listen.
Interrogation Room: A Trivia Challenge With the Cast: The main cast members of the show face off in pairs--Bomer and Garson, DeKay and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and Marcia Tomason and Sharif Atkins--to answer trivia questions about their characters. They are quite funny throughout and give each other hints and things. Cute extra that is just long enough.
Jeff Eastin: @ddicted: This is a hilarious and brief joke documentary about how show creator Jeff Eastin is addicted to Twitter. The cast and various members of the writing team get in on the fun, and you will frequently laugh out loud watching this one.
Gag Reel: The gag reels for this show are always pretty good and this one is great, extremely funny from beginning to end. Flubs and mistakes are here of course, but mostly it is just the cast--who clearly all enjoy each other very much--having fun goofing around and enjoying their jobs. Definitely worth watching.
Deleted Scenes: At about 3 minutes long, there arenít many scenes here but they are very watchable. Most feature more of Sharif Atkinsí criminally underused Agent Jones. There is also a scene from Eliza Dushkuís guest-starring episode which highlights her good chemistry with Bomer.
The third season of White Collar manages to do what a show needs to do when moving past the first couple of seasons, and that is to retain what makes it distinctive while allowing the characters and their relationships to further the central plot. Because they succeed in this, the team of White Collar can be assured that fans will want to own--which means buy and not rent--this four-disc set of season three. The extra features are good as well. Plus, the quality of season three sets up ample anticipation for season four of White Collar.
∑ White Collar: The Complete Second Season DVD Review
∑ White Collar: The Complete First Season DVD Review