Fox // 2009 // 704 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // November 14th, 2013
"Let me give you some advice: In this life, somebody always takes the fall. Don't let it be you."
I used to spend a lot of TV time watching USA Network shows. Their lighthearted, character-driven mysteries like Psych and Monk met a need that wasn't being filled by broadcast television. While my tastes have shifted in recent years to edgier fare found on AMC and FX, I still make an effort to keep up with at least one USA series: White Collar. The NY-based procedural that pairs an FBI agent and a con-man consultant has been one of the network's best original shows since it debuted in 2009.
White Collar: The Complete Fourth Season picks up with Neil (Matt Bomer) and Mozzie (Willie Garson) hiding out on a remote island after making off with a priceless art collection. Unfortunately, their past is about to catch up with them in the form of Neil's FBI handler, Peter (Tim DeKay), and with revelations about Neil's past and the father he barely knew.
White Collar: The Complete Fourth Season has sixteen episodes across four discs:
* "Most Wanted"
* "Diminishing Returns"
* "Parting Shots"
* "Honor Among Thieves"
* "Identity Crisis"
* "Compromising Positions"
* "Ancient History"
* "Gloves Off"
* "Vested Interest"
* "Family Business"
* "Brass Tacks"
* "Empire City"
* "Shoot the Moon"
* "The Original"
* "In the Wind"
White Collar's third season finale was a showstopper. If the series had ended with Neil cutting his tracking anklet and hopping a plane, it would have been a fitting capper. That final scene was a big enough twist that Season Four undergoes narrative gymnastics to get Neil out of hiding and back to New York. The island two-parter that kicks off the season is a fun diversion, almost worth the backtracking that follows -- a solid collection of one-off episodes including the Mozzie conspiracy centric "Identity Crisis," Peter and Neil facing off in the ring in "Gloves Off," and the unusual combination of taxicab scam and Harlem jazz in "Empire City."
The best thing about Season Four is the storyline that brings Neil face-to-face with his past, through his father's ex-partner Ellen (Judith Ivey), introduced in Season Three. She gives Caffrey clues to the truth about his father, a convicted cop killer who may have been set up. The investigation has plenty of intriguing twists. It doesn't necessarily make sense that Neil and Peter sideline the search as often as they do -- an occupational hazard of the case-of-the-week format -- but the storyline comes together for a thrilling heist finale.
Season Four brings new things to the series but for the most part it's more of the same -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. White Collar has long since abandoned Peter and Neil's adversarial relationship in favor of a buddy cop format strong enough to weather a little thing like fleeing the country with millions of dollars worth of art. It's because Bomer and DeKay have such great chemistry. Even when they're at odds we want them to work it out. The chemistry extends to the rest of the cast, especially Garson's lovable paranoid Mozzie, former teen star Tiffani Thiessen, and Sharif Atkins and Marsha Thomason as Peter's teammates. This season also features memorable guest performances from Treat Williams, Titus Welliver, Gregg Henry, and Mekhi Phifer.
White Collar: The Complete Fourth Season's 1.78:1 anamorphic presentation looks great even in standard def, with strong detail, natural color, and stylish design. The episodes come in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround in a mix that's not aggressive, but it's clean.
Bonus features are sparse, beginning with eight minutes of deleted scenes spread across four discs. The rest of the extras can be found on disc four: a single audio commentary (for the season finale "In the Wind," with Bomer, DeKay, Garson, and series creator Jeff Eastin); an uncensored gag reel (8:40); and "Tim DeKay: In the Director's Chair" (5:15), a back-patting featurette focused on the actor-directed "Empire City" episode.
White Collar isn't flawless television, with the occasional shaky storyline and the most flagrant product placement since Jack Bauer parked his Ford Expedition. But I've stuck with the series through four seasons thanks to sharp writing and a strong cast. Season Four starts slow but builds into a compelling mystery that combines the best things about the series and the characters. It's not the same as was when it started, but White Collar is still a lot of fun.
No need to make a Federal case out of it. Not guilty!
Review content copyright © 2013 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 704 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site
* Facebook Page