In the US: Fridays, 10/9c, USA Network
Three episodes into White Collar and I haven't changed my mind much about the show since I previewed the first episode. In fact, it's gone slightly down in my estimation, not by being worse per se, but by becoming blander.
The trouble with the show is that there's nothing really compelling about it. The cast isn't bad, but it's not compelling; the characters aren't bad, but they're not compelling; the plots, dialogue, production values, direction, etc aren't bad, but they're well you can fill in the blank yourself, can't you?
I think the biggest problem is that there's no real chemistry between any of the cast. There's no chemistry between the leads, Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay; there's none between DeKay and on-screen wife Tiffani Thiessen; and there's none between Bomer and criminal friend Willie Garson. The characters all just exist in rooms together, talk, and that's about it.
Even the addition of Natalie Morales has failed to cause any sparks anywhere, despite her obvious ability to create sparks in The Middleman. The blame for that falls mainly on the series' story arc in which Bomer is trying to track down his girlfriend: it's glacially slow and uninteresting, and means Bomer's character can't really try to seduce any female characters.
I'm not sure if that would be insurmountable, if it weren't for the fact that the crimes being investigated by the dazzlingly brilliant criminal and his FBI partner aren't especially interesting and they're not solved in an especially smart way. I really wish that Thiessen and Morales had more to do, since it's also a bit boys' club at the moment. It tries to be smart, it really wants to be smart and it gets very close. It just never quite makes it.
Still, if the "turn off your brain and relax" character-based TV that USA Network specialises in (honourable exception: Burn Notice) is your cup of tea, or you just like the boyish charms of Matt Bomer, then you'll probably enjoy White Collar.
Sudden thought: the whole thing would immeasurably more interesting if it was Matt Bomer partnered with FBI agent Natalie Morales, who's married to regular joe Tim DeKay. Just a thought.
Carusometer rating: 3
Rob's prediction: If In Plain Sight can get a second season, so will this