I don’t usually have much to say about White Collar, but I continue to review it for two reasons. 1) It was the first show that I ever reviewed at this blog, and I’d like to keep that tradition alive. 2) Writing down my thoughts on each episode is the only way that I can remember what happened from week to week. White Collar isn’t a particularly memorable show. That’s not a criticism. I enjoy breezy, quirky procedurals. If that makes me easily satisfied, then so be it. I like what I like.

And that brings me to this week’s episode, “Power Play.” Rationally, I know that I shouldn’t have liked this episode. It was silly, clumsy, and all over the place. But damn if the show didn’t win me over with its usual wit and charm (kind of like Neal Caffrey himself). “Power Play” proved that when all else fails, banter can save the day.

I might as well just rip the band-aid off and start by talking about the extremely contrived manner in which the plot kicked off. I just didn’t buy, not even for a second, that Brooke, the witness, would be soooooo scared to talk to the FBI that she needed special reassurances from Elizabeth. After all, Brooke had done some digging of her own, and if she was that scared, why the hell was she meeting FBI agents at her workplace, where Stansler1 could see the meeting? Clearly, things were done this way to set up the Neal/Peter switch, complete with Peter!Neal2 kissing Elizabeth, and to get in a spot for some Ford product that I’ll probably never purchase, but was the situation really that urgent? Would it have been so hard to ask Brooke to come to the FBI building? And can we please, please find a better way to do product placement for Ford?

But with that incredibly clumsy setup out of the way, the rest of the episode was fun and breezy, with a lot of great banter between all the characters, not just Peter and Neal. That’s exactly how White Collar should be. I had a lot of fun watching Peter execute the theft, and Neal as an FBI agent was a hoot. I should also give this episode points for not using the Neal/Peter switch as an opportunity to drop too many “Look! Peter realizes that things can be morally grey!” or “Look! Neal has renounced his life of crime!” anvils.

I should probably comment on the Sara/Neal romance, given that I suspect that there’s a lot of RRAAAAAAAAAGGGEE about it in the Twitterverse right now. Sara has appeared in only four episodes. To be frank, that’s not enough to make me care about the Sara/Neal romance or even care about Sara as a character. The story she told about her sister running away was just a failed attempt to humanize her. But that being said, in principle, I’m not opposed to a Sara/Neal hookup. What I don’t get was why Neal and Sara’s kiss had to lead immediately to sweaty, hot library sex. Seriously, keep it in your pants, you horny-ass schoolkids! Thank God for Mozzie’s coitus interruptus.

Speaking of other things I don’t really care about: I think I’ve written off White Collar’s mythology by now. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and I can never remember what’s going on with it anyway. That being said, this week’s twist about Alex was incredibly lame. We’ve seen no indications that there’s anything special or important about her. And that creepy hooded guy following her around? Oooh…scary.3

So, we’re near the end of this review, and I haven’t even talked about all the stupidity yet. I could talk about how dumb it was for Brooke not to just quit her job and talk to the FBI if she thought her boss was going to be arrested anyway. I could also talk about how stupid it was for Stansler to fire guns inside a museum. (Yeah, real smart, Stansler. No one would ever suspect you of committing those murders.4) But I think that we’re done here. I’ve already criticized this episode far more than is warranted. If an episode is fun, who cares if the pieces don’t exactly fit? Perhaps it’s because I’m not a jaded television viewer who has been watching the tube for 40 years, but I have a high tolerance for weak plotting and general stupidity, and I think that “Power Play” worked despite having copious amounts of both. Maybe I have poor taste and White Collar is just a guilty pleasure now. But you know what? That’s fine. I don’t need every show to have compelling character development, an intriguing mythology, and airtight plots. Television’s job is to entertain, and there’s no better way to get your entertainment on Tuesday night than watching White Collar.

But I have to admit: watching Charlie Sheen rant about “bi-winning” comes awfully close.

 

1 Did I spell that correctly? Never mind, I don’t really give a rat’s ass.

2 And Peter pretending to be Neal will be referred to as Neal!Peter.

3 I wish that sarcasm translated better to print.

4 Again, e-sarcasm.

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