Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Reviews: White Collar, Covert Affairs, Franklin and Bash

White Collar
As we rejoin White Collar for this summer's new season, Vincent Adler (Andrew McCarthy), Neal's (Matt Bomer) nemesis has been blown up and the warehouse full of precious Nazi artwork he'd been hoarding is in a plane with Neal and Mozzie (Willie Garson) on a runway.   They appear to be trying to escape with a vast fortune that doesn't belong to them.

The trust that Peter (Tim DeKay) has come to have for Neal over the past couple of seasons has eroded; the FBI agent no longer has faith in the art thief he enlisted to help him con
the con men.

In short, the writers have decided that the bro-mance that's been forming between the two men is too close to consummation, which would snuff the flame that usually ruins a TV show when the two stars get too cozy.  Realized romance between two leads is almost always lethal.

The audience, too, is left guessing as to whether Neal is good guy, bad guy or something in between.  It is the perfect set-up for another bunch of episodes of this finely written, acted and produced show with its great Manhattan backdrop.

The reset is a good thing.  It brings back the tension and the need to keep watching.  This show has a lot of life left in it and its great summer entertainment.  There's nothing like a caper drama with wit, style and good-looking, well-coiffed people.

Covert Affairs 

Starring Piper Perabo, Covert Affairs is a spy show that follows CIA agent Annie Walker (a Valerie Plame lookalike).  The new episodes pick up at a U.S Naval Hospital in Guam where her boyfriend, another operative named Ben Mercer, is recovering from the operation that almost got them both killed at the end of last season, a mission that reunited the two after a long separation.

The danger does not stop at the naval hospital, surprising since it's heavily guarded, but the action does move back to Washington, D.C. where Annie is reacquainted with the rest of this pretty good cast - the always stellar Peter Gallagher, Kari Matchett as his wife/underling and Christopher Gorham, as a blind agent.

More drama ensues, there are a few twists and turns with professional tennis as the backdrop, and then near tragedy.

I like this show.  It's straightforward, yet smart.  There's mystery and spy stuff, but it's easy enough to follow without rapt concentration, a good trait for a 10 o'clock show.  Covert Affairs is highly recommended for summer viewing.  It's fun, colorful and smart without being too heavy.

Franklin and Bash
This new program with the delightful Mark Paul Gossellaar (who will always be Zach from Saved by the Bell to me), and Breckin Meyer is pretty thin.  About a couple of ambulance-chasing, low-life attorneys who hook up with Malcom McDowell's white shoe law firm, it's supposed to be a fish-out-of-water tale with the two young guys thumbing their noses at the seemingly classier, yet equally sleazy, lawyers at the new firm.

It works, but not well enough and the premise is stale.  I've read a couple of reviews that say the series gets better in the next couple of episodes, but I'd be very surprised if it did. 

The characters are not likeable enough and the writing tries too hard.  Gossellaar's character has no class.  During a party scene where everyone is clothed, he gets out of a hot tub and walks around naked (yes, even to the camera).  Still, he tries to woo his ex-girlfriend, an assistant district attorney, who is out of his bowling league.  In court, both he and his partner use completely outlandish antics that wouldn't fly in any courtroom - fictional or otherwise. 

Franklin and Bash is one to watch, but only if you're desperate.

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