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From the Couch: “White Collar”

You know the story: detective meets partner. Partners meet criminal. More attractive partner meets pretty female supporting character and engages in harmless flirtation.

The whole crime scene drama has been done so many times for one reason and one reason only – it works. Audiences flock to the cutting and witty humor of those pseudo-cops who always seem to be filled with sexual tension. But audiences are also getting smarter and crave a show that is different than the one on that “other” network. Enter USA’s “White Collar,” a deliciously fresh drama involving an ex-white collar criminal turned good guy.

Neal Caffrey (played by Matthew Bomer) is that suave bad boy every self-respecting woman is looking for.

In exchange for no jail time, he has offered to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals like himself. Every crime drama, or drama in general, needs a pretty face to look at, and Bomer fills that role. He is also loyal to his partner in crime, Peter Burke (Tim Dekay), ironically the very man who caught him in the act.

This show definitely works the suspension of disbelief angle, as I would hope the FBI doesn’t frequently help the criminals they catch by offering them a job. At any rate, this show works by taking advantage of Burke’s whip-smart attitude and the voyeuristic sense of looking into a criminal’s mind the viewer gets from Neal.

Tiffani Thiessen also makes an appearance as Peter’s wife. The pair enjoy a disgustingly cute relationship, unrivaled since her days as Kelly on “Saved by the Bell” with Zach Morris (sigh.)

For now, the show is riding on its sexiness, but eventually it is going to have to amp up the humor if it wants to gain any kind of a foothold with more fickle, humor-deprived audience members.

Fortunately, it is in a perfect position to do that with Mozzie (Willie Garson), a short, bald supporting character who aids the FBI agents. His character is pretty out there, as all good supporting characters are and should provide a platform for entertainment in the future.

I will also take this opportunity to say USA does a remarkable job reeling its viewers in, showing similar crime dramas right after this one. I shouldn’t admit this, but it’s always after midnight before I finally shut the channel off. Blasted niche marketing.

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