White Collar: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Bronwen Hughes et al
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 617 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 69.99
Release Date: July 13, 2010
Review Date: July 13, 2010
Another slick, sassy caper procedural on the USA network, White Collar is smart, whimsically constructed, and very appealing. Though its inherently friendly, slightly antagonistic team may remind one of other cable TV duos (Burn Notice, Psych, Royal Pains), the chemistry between the two leads, the fun supporting cast, and the fresh, snappy storytelling makes the series one of the small screen’s most genuinely pleasurable romps. It’s a joy to have the first season on Blu-ray to experience all over again.
Master high end con artist Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is assigned to the FBI agent who originally captured him, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), to act as an FBI consultant on white collar crimes-in-the-making. It’s a four year commitment, the length of time he has left to serve on his last conviction. The two together make a pretty unbeatable team: Caffrey wise to the ways of thieves and Burke savvy to ways in which crooks attempt to escape detection. Neal has another agenda going on simultaneously, however, which he’s trying to keep hidden from Agent Burke. His girl friend of many years Kate (Alexandra Daddario) has disappeared, and he, along with fellow thief Mozzie (Willie Garson), are on the lookout for her. Through it all, Peter’s faithful wife Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) trusts that Neal isn’t out to sabotage her husband and shows on several occasions that she knows he’ll do the right thing in showing his good will in dealing with Peter.
The crimes Neal and Peter tackle involve everything from art forgery, diamond theft, and stock scams to foreign currency counterfeit plates and locating a stolen medieval Bible, and guest stars like Mark A. Sheppard, Garrett Dillahunt, Jonathan Tucker, and Kyle Secor make formidable opponents. The principal cast really has terrific ensemble chemistry, especially Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, and Willie Garson. Their genuinely affable camaraderie makes each episode, even those with slightly weaker stories, sparkle. The show’s main weakness thus far has involved the season-long story arc dealing with the elusive Kate. Neal’s single-minded intention to find her often interrupts the weekly caper’s momentum, and because her appearances are so fleeting, we don’t as viewers know her very well nor understand why she means so much to Neal (especially since Neal seems inordinately attracted to every single breathing female who comes into his orbit, a tired cliché that the show has overdone). The season finale episode sets up season two’s story arc involving Kate (no spoilers here), but this once again threatens to disrupt the flow of the series’ jaunty weekly tasks by dragging in this fairly uninteresting subplot. It, of course, remains to be seen how this may help or hinder the show’s second season.
Here are the fourteen episodes from season one contained on the set’s three discs. Names in parentheses refer to the commentators for that episode.
1 – Pilot (Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Willie Garson, Tiffani Thiessen)
2 – Threads
3 – Book of Hours
4 – Flip of the Coin
5 – The Portrait
6 – All In
7 – Free Fall (Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, Willie Garson)
8 – Hard Sell (Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay)
9 – Bad Judgment
10 – Vital Signs (Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay, Tiffani Thiessen)
11 – Home Invasion
12 – Bottlenecked
13 – Front Man
14 – Out of the Box (Jeff Eastin, Tim DeKay, Matt Bomer)
The series’ 1.78:1 television aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Overall, the images have pleasing sharpness and good color reproduction though there are occasional soft shots that intrude on the general sharpness levels of the rest of each episode. Flesh tones are natural and appealing. Occasionally, in darker lit scenes, grain levels rise to inconsistent levels, but this doesn’t happen very often. Black levels, however, are very good. Apart from the pilot, each episode is divided into 12 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is fairly typical for a cable series with music offering the most consistent surround experience available during each episode. Ambient sounds like busy traffic (the series takes place in New York City) get some spread across the fronts but rarely into the rears lessening the impact of the surround experience. Except for a climactic moment in the season finale, the LFE channel has little to do.
The episodes which feature audio commentaries (see episodes listed above) feature creator/producer Jeff Eastin and various members of the cast, and while they’re all pleasant conversations between friends as the episodes unfold, none of them are memorable, fact-laden chats. They comment about hair and costumes and say nice things about one another and about fellow cast members and guest stars, but nothing especially informative is offered up to listeners.
The season one gag reel is presented in 480i and runs for 12 ¼ minutes.
There are six deleted scenes, all combined into one montage lasting 10 ½ minutes. They’re in 480i.
“Pro and Con” finds creator/producer Jeff Eastin describing his two main characters and discussing the casting decisions for these two roles. Other members of the cast also heap praise on the two actors chosen for the leading parts. This 1080p featurette lasts 6 ¾ minutes.
“Cool Cat in a Hat” has the program’s costume designer describing her work on the show and her individual looks for the two main characters and other key roles on the show. This 1080p featurette runs 5 ¾ minutes.
“Nothing But the Truth” introduces us to former FBI agent and now tech consultant Tom Barden. He discusses a few aspects of the show that are completely accurate and others which had to be altered in the writing stage. This vignette could have been greatly expanded from the 2 ½ minutes with many more specific examples about the accuracy or the dramatic license the writers take in fashioning the show. It’s in 1080p.
There are 1080p promotional ad trailers for White Collar, Burn Notice, and the upcoming sequel to Wall Street.
4/5 (not an average)
White Collar got off to a very good start during its freshman season, and this Blu-ray release offers a very good picture and sound experience with the series along with a few moderately entertaining and informative bonuses. Recommended!