“Flip of the Coin”
November 14th, 2009
Now four weeks into its run, White Collar is about where it was in its pilot: a solid entry in USA’s lineup. The show has yet to really transcend to the point where I would say it’s really growing into something new, or where it’s establishing a more complex identity, which isn’t problematic so much as it is perhaps a sign of the show being unwilling to go to that stage so quickly.
There are some growing pains, however, in terms of how the episode wants its stories to work and how they’re actually capable of working. “Flip of the Coin” has a couple of nice set pieces in it, along with some high quality guest stars to help bolster the episode, but it struggles to make all of that come together. There are some scenes where Neal’s suave nature feels perfectly at home in the context of these investigations, and other sequences where the believability is stripped away for the sake of convenience.
Still, there’s a lot of enjoyment within this episode, to the point where some of the shortcuts are ultimately overcome by one development in particular that could help the show going forward.
February 15th, 2009
It’s been a few weeks since I checked back in with Flight of the Conchords, and it’s really out of perpetual mild disappointment: it’s not that the show has become unfunny, but rather that part of its charm has more or less disappeared. The show has felt like it was reaching in order to recreate some of its comic highlights from the first season, with the expanded roles for Murray and Mel not being entirely unwelcome, but the charm of the show came less from the parts and more from how they came together into musically-themed episodes. The first few episodes of the season proved that the show was capable of surviving without the same kind of memorable songs, the same kind of thematic consistency to the episodes, but there was still something missing.
I think that “Unnatural Love” captures it, though: whether it was returning to the love life of our characters (a highlight for much of the show’s best material, including “If You’re Into It”), or the direction of Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, various fantastic music videos), this one just felt like it was operating on a different level. I actually think that some of the other episodes this season had some sharper comedy, but the songs were so much better here, and the comedy still in plentiful supply, that this is easily my favourite episode of the season thus far.