Procedurals can fall into a pattern and there’s not too much to differentiate one season from another. That’s why USA’s White Collar continues to be one of the better shows of its kind. It’s not afraid to mix up the chemistry and threaten the harmony that hangs over the success. To mark the Season 4 premiere, USA released the White Collar Season 3 DVD for those who need to catch up and for those diehards who want to ramp up to the new season with a marathon of the best season yet. A major theme this season was all of the major relationships were reset, namely with Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) and his co-workers Peter Burke, Diana Barrigan, and Clinton Jones (Tim DeKay, Marsha Thomason, and Sharif Atkins) or Neal and Mozzie (Willie Garson), while others were just beginning, like Neal and Sara Ellis (Hilarie Burton).
At the end of season two, we find out that the art from the Nazi sub was never destroyed but moved to a remote location by Mozzie. While Neal and Mozzie monitored their stash from afar, Peter’s suspicions and trust were tested by someone he felt was becoming his most trusted friend. The writers didn’t want viewers to be content, too relaxed in the bromance they had created for the two lead characters. Neal also juggled a budding relationship with insurance investigator, Sara Ellis who he was able to rope into a few capers, and his long standing friendship with Mozzie, who believed that Neal was fooling himself to think he could walk away from the life of crime.
The relationships, especially between the men, put the most charming qualities of White Collar at risk and kudos to creator Jeff Eastin and the writers for being brave enough to initiate this change and execute it in a way that actually strengthened those bonds by the end of the season. There are some wonderful moments between Neal and Diana, Clinton and Neal, and Mozzie and Elizabeth. Just when you think that this season is going to tear everyone apart, the cast comes out looking even more honest and trusting. As for the shippers out there, I felt that the Neal-Sara relationship played out truthfully and even though she has her detractors, I think Sara was an excellent paring for Neal. And the Burke marriage is a rarity in television, one that every couple should be envious of.
Each supporting character was given their own episode to shine, including Mozzie, Barrigan, Jones, and even Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) had her own caper and more of the backgrounds developed. Each character spotlight was to show how Neal affected their lives in a positive way, and how strong of bonds he was building, while leading a straight life. In the mid-season finale, “Countdown” an exciting arc featuring the return of Matthew Keller (Ross McCall) who eventually kidnapped Elizabeth. And that episode was topped even better by the season finale, “Judgement Day,” which created a new adversary in Agent Kramer (Beau Bridges) and forced Peter to defy his superiors for one heck of a cliffhanger.
Season three also saw some great guest-castings including Game of Thrones’ Lena Heady, Dollhouse’s Eliza Dushku, Beau Bridges, Ross McCall, and Ernie Hudson. Tim DeKay got behind the camera for the first time for ep. 315: “Stealing Home” and Andrew McCarthy helmed ep. 313: “Neighborhood Watch.” This was a season where you could not miss an episode because each one built on top of the previous one, stacking the chips higher and higher.
It’s not difficult to get roped back into the series whether you’ve seen them all before like me, or you are experiencing each season on DVD. There aren’t enough shows that can keep you genuinely invested in all of the characters, leading and supporting, with smart twists and a tone that cleverly blends comedy and drama into one. These characters continue to grow and challenge the audience with thrilling new spins on the confidence game and turns in their personal lives. Sadly, no blu-ray has been offered since Season One, but the show has some remarkable cinematography and still looks stunning on standard definition.
There’s a small handful of extras and they include:
- Interrogation Room: A Trivia Challenge With The Cast (5:44)
- Jeff Eastin: @ddicted (3:50)
- Gag Reel (6:48)
- Deleted Scenes (3:11)
- Audio Commentary on “Judgement Day” featuring: Jeff Eastin, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, and Willie Garson
All of the extras are geared towards the “Collared” fans who are well aware of creator Jeff Eastin’s addiction to twitter, the charismatic camaraderie amongst cast members and the gag reel is pretty good too, especially if you’ve developed a soft spot for this cast (which is very easy to do).
There is a handful of deleted scenes and while I enjoyed the audio commentary on “Judgment Day,” (more of an amusing party variety than informative), I think viewers would have been happier if there were more of them. If not on each of the 16 episodes, then at least one on each disc couldn’t have been too much to ask, could it? I wouldn’t be asking for more if I didn’t have a good time with with the one and commentaries always add value for repeat viewings. We get the feeling that the cast is one big family, and the commentary confirms that sentiment. This season would have been especially fun had each supporting actor been able to contribute a commentary for their individual episode. Getting other writers like Jim Campolongo, Joe Henderson, Channing Powell and Alexandra McNally to record on episodes they wrote is another suggestion that would have earned a higher score with me.
This season 3 box set will still satisfy most White Collar fans but greedier ones–like me–will be hungry for more extras. Still, what should be celebrated are the 16-high quality episodes that look brilliant the second time around (even on DVD) and seeing Season 3 again stirred up a lot of excitement for the Season 4 Premiere that will air on the USA Network, Tuesday, July 10, and that’s all you can ask for in a TV DVD.