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General TV Series
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jdw
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:10 pm    Post subject: General TV Series Reply with quote

We seem to do well with general hopper threads, so I'll start this one to toss stuff into. :)


John
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

White Collar fb page

White Collar returns for Season 2 on Tuesday. Not an off the charts series, but watchable light entertainment. Good pair of leads, not a bad batch of supporting actors. Part "running a con" genre and part "cops & bad guys" genre. "Tourtured good looking bad guy turned good guy with a heart of gold" lead which would feel worn out in 90% of shows, but Matt Bome pulls it off pretty well. Hard to say why, though the actor is extremely likable in the role, and find the right balance between carefree con-man and the layer he mostly hides of being pretty messed up over his on-the-run girlfriend. Co-Lead Tim DeKay is pretty solid as well as an FBI agent with a bit of a stick up his ass balancing out his conflict/distrust of Caffrey with his... trust and like of Caffrey's help in cases.

Walks a fine line, and by the end of Season 1 was perhaps slowing into the role of Multi-Year Series that needs to stretch various things out. Leverage seemed to do a much better job of building an initial Season that would have been "complete" if they didn't get renewed, but also set up a variety of things long term if they got renewed... and even to the point that early in Season 2 you could see a 5 or so season series if they got lucky. Kind of big early season 2 for White Collar to find a similar thing. They'll have a bit of audience good will because of Bome's likeability, and also the hook that finished the season. But there are a ton of cop shows out there, lots of con shows, and plenty of likeable leads out there.

I'm pulling for it because when working well, it's good light entertainment after a long day of work. Something that can build up on the DVR if I get too swamped, and be pulled up when having time to burn through a few as a bit of pick me up.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

White Collar 2nd season premier was a little disappointing. Most of it was a leap into a standard "case" rather than building an entire episode of at least making one full step forward from last seasons finale. That took a little expected tesnion out the opener: the closing scene last season was so strong in the arc of the story that we expected Caffrey & Burke to make a strong push to advance their knowledge on what happened and who is pulling the strings. Since it's a continuing series and that secondary story is going to be played out for another season (if not seasons), we know that they'd only make the first step forward before hitting a brick wall that would need to be worked on through the rest of the season. We didn't get that. Instead, it was closer to a usual mid-season where the secondary story is touch on a bit here and there. I think a mistake.

The storyline of Caffrey not being very well in the head after the finale was played up, then kind of played through. I liked the scenes between Burke and Mozzie where they were concerned about Caffrey, but those also felt like things that are more mid-season rather than season opener: conversations they'd have after seeing Caffrey's issues slowly pop up over time. A deeper series would have had Caffrey hide/cover up his issues, and his two "friends" only catch on after a while... perhaps even only June catching on first, and pushing Burke and Mozzie to confront what they're pretending isn't there infront of them.

It's a bit too bad they didn't slow roll it more, letting the viewers fgure out first, then June, then Burke & Mozzie. Like I said in the prior post, Bomer plays slightly tortured pretty well, as that was the balance in his character in the first season: carefree on the outside, but torn up about Kate being in danger / on the run. I don't think slowly getting screwed up a bit in the head over Kate's death is something he couldn't play, nor tapping into the self loathing that *he* caused Kate's death (which frankly is what he would think).

The other thing that felt like a waste was the throw away of Tim Matheson as the lead heel. The character was good, Tim was fab. The problem is that it was battling the other issues of the show coming of the finale, in other words what the fans were most interested in over the break. So he was almost less than "just another bad guy" given the episode he was dropped into. The second problem is that he was a straight blow off: Tim got caught in the end and is going to the slammer. Tim was very entertaining in the role, and with the character being an very rich and nearly impossible to catch major thief, it's the *one* time they really should have had the top bad guy they were chasing get away. Sure, perhaps they bag the lower level people involved in the crime, but in the end none of them even know they were working for Tim and thus had no goods they could turn over to get Tim busted.

More than that, it creates a high end top heel they can chase seveal times over the season or several season. Finally, if he's good enough, the writers could have found a way to tie him into the key secondary story: he's involved in the Music Box, Kate's death, and whatever the hell Fowler and OPR are up to. Perhaps it's Tim in the end who is pulling the strings, and we don't get that until several appearances in. Neil & Peter just think he's a master criminal who pops into Manhattan from time-to-time, but there's a reason why he is popping back into their lives. Tim frankly is quite good in that, as there's a streak of Otter in Neil, and seeing him up against an old, wiser, far more dangerous version of himself would be interesting.

I suspect next week it will be more of the same, and perhaps a "regular episode" will feel a bit better. But this was an opener after a Shocker finish to last season. It really needed to deliver more.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The premire for Covert Affairs was on after White Collar.

Positives:

Kari Matchett as the division head that the lead works for. Kari is fab, and it's nice to see her getting series work.

Negatives:

Pretty derivative show. Alias Lite, without the psychological depth of Alias. Tries way to hard to be cute and funny, which gets in the way of the thriller aspect.

I can't quite tell if Piper Perabo isn't believable as the character, or if the character just isn't believable at all. Probably a big chunk of the second, but perhaps some of the first. Not saying Piper sucks. But they try to hard to get across why she's qualified for what she's gotten dropped into so quickly out of nowhere (trainee --> field spy in 0-120 without even observing other "pros" working first). It's just not believable.

Blind Guy. Cute Blind Guy. Cute Funny Impossibly Talented Blind Guy That All The Chicks Are Hot For. Yeah... they're trying way too fucking hard with the character. A cute, funny, talented blind character in an ongoing series is an interesting concept, though one worries about the character being sustainable as a regular member of a team as I don't think a "writing team" is always filled up with writers of *individual* episodes who would be able to come up with something of quality for the character to do in every episode. Very interesting concept, and I'd love to see someone pull it off in a series where Cute Blind Guy wasn't just the once an episode next door neighbor giving helpful life advice to the lead, but instead something with some regular meat to it. But in a spy setting, working in a significant CIA Division in Langley... maybe they pull a miracle out of their ass in the balance of the season and make this work. Last night, it just was't believable, to the point that it ground the mind to a halt in most of his scenes. I think it's going to be really hard to pull off. :/

I don't have a great deal of hope for the show. I feel bad for Kari being in a role that's not bad for her at this point in her career (playing a boss and mentor to a younger agent), but it being on a show that's not so hot.

John
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

White Collar season 2 update:

Seemed to re-hit its stride in the episode this week. Very good guest heel in Aidan Quinn. In fact, he was almost two good for a story arc that wraps in 42 minutes. Much like Tim Matheson in the season opener, he's too good to blow on just a single episode. Aidan is a fab actor and one really would have liked to see him go toe-to-toe with Caffrey & Burke for several episodes.

Other positive is that one of Caffrey's old associate was back: Alex. She and Neil have nice chem, and they did a good job of not overplaying it here, and stuck with the vibe that Neil was still grieving over Kate. The nice touch at the end of her pointing it out, and him kind of getting it.

One of the better scene of the entire series: Burke playing an enforcer from a specific mob town, with Mozzie on the ear piece giving him advice on exactly the lingo to use to make the con work. Pretty much everyone nailed it for quality drama/comedy combo:

* DeKay (Burke) hitting the enforcer tone well and ad-libbing off Mozzie's script just enough

* Garson (Mozzie) feeding the lines in his very wonderful always-in-character fashion, getting annoyed at Burke's ad-lib then acknowledging that they worked

* Quinn doing the 180 from being confident to being shaken that he'd ripped off the wrong people (the mob)

* quirky ass scripting that's very fun when it hits notes like this

* very nice job of director and production team as it's a very nicely lit scene, the beats are good, and the camera work does a good job of catching it all

Not saying this is Oscar stuff. :) Just a fun scene in a light entertainment show. It's generally what you're looking for in shows like this: some fun, good interplay between the regulars with each other and the guests, some elements of "drama" as it's a continuing show and you need to want to tune these folks in again, and some character and storyarc progression. This one seemed to find the best balance between "we're a continuing series with cases each week to focus on" and "we do have that secondary continuing storyline we need to move along as well".

Still think that they could have done more with Quinn and Tim from a seasonal standpoint. Tim is just fun, and really ate up that role. Quinn is just a major actor to get for a series like this, and you'd really like to see a tension of it taking longer for Neil & Burke to get the drop on him. It's really tough because series like this on basic cable aren't exactly Must See Major TV Series that draw in 20+ million a week and allow you to do multi-part shows that you know large chunks of folks are going to be hanging to see the conclusion. With these... we're talking 3-4 million people, and every show almost needs to be a contained episode that anyone can watch at any point: new or re-run. So they tend to save the two-parters for Season Opener or Season Closer spots.

Anyway, more positive about the show this week than the earlier shows in Season 2. It's a fun, light little show with likeable actors and characters. You kind of root for the ones that you start watching and enjoy.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fun little White Collar episode this week focused on Mozzie. For "filler" to fill up a season where they're trying to stretch out the background story arc, this was perfectly fun.

A little sad that the resolution segement at the end closed off Mozzie continuing the friendship/relationship. Understand why: cable shows like this work limited budgets which is what keeps them viable given the viewership. Building in someone they might feel obligated to bring back several times a season, or even once a year, is a bit of a problem.

On the other hand, Castle (a network show with a larger budget) does an very good job handling Ryan's girlfriend. Ryan is pretty close to low man on the pole in the show, so they're not going to invest a ton of budget in getting a regular reoccurring cast mate to be his girlfriend. So we've seen her just once, in a very nice scene. But for quite a while before that we had Ryan mention her by name, and she's been mentioned since then. In a sense she *is* a character in the show, similar to other classic comedies of the 70s where someone's husband or wife would get mentioned by not seen.

I *think* White Collar could have done the same with Mozzie's friend, and perhaps over time joked about it getting "serious". And if the show has legs for 4 years, perhaps bring her back in the 4th season for another episode... or even a cameo... something.

They're 4 episodes in a 16 episode season. Last year went 14, and they took a "mid-season break" after 7 with a big cliff hanger. I'd expect them to start drawing the season story arc into the forefront in the coming shows before a break, probably with another cliff hanger.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm digging that Leverage got renewed already for a 4th season.

John
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Mike Campbell



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to know how The Big Bang Theory went three seasons without my wife and I knowing about it. We came across it completely by accident a few months ago and have been completely hooked.
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Rian



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
I'm digging that Leverage got renewed already for a 4th season.

John


Portland does a great job of standing in for Boston. :)
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jdw
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey... CSI is back. Ray is alive and that annoying pop star kid is on it. I waited since May for this? :)

John
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Jeremy Billones



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I watched the first episode of The Event on streaming. (Is it a bad
sign when all six ads are *the exact same ad*?)

I was underwhelmed. Jason Ritter was doing a very good job playing the
character he was asked to play... I just didn't care about that character.
We're clearly intended to identify with him as he 'grows' into the hero
role. The show hasn't convinced me it will be worth the wait.

What was so awesome about the Lost pilot is that we were immediately
given reasons to care about the characters themselves and not just
the situation they were thrust into. I think the multiple ring shots and
the swim rescue scene were meant to do that, but I just didn't buy in.
And none of the other characters had a moment like that. (The President
taking a stand on Fauxntanamo was a deleted scene from 24 and since
they're clearly going to give us a shocking swerve on that one we're just
twiddling our thumbs waiting for it.) In the first hour of Lost, you had
strong character beats from Hurley and Boone above and beyond
the "count to 5" call and response. Shannon and Charlie were somewhat
unlikeable (by design), but they were still more interesting than any
of the other characters we've seen on The Event so far.

(Oh, yeah, and the "big swerve" at the end of this episode was not
intriguing. It was a WTF that broke Chekov's Law and turns *off*
the audience, not hooks them for next week to find out what happens
next.)
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Kronos



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
The premire for Covert Affairs was on after White Collar.

Positives:

Kari Matchett as the division head that the lead works for. Kari is fab, and it's nice to see her getting series work.

Negatives:

Pretty derivative show. Alias Lite, without the psychological depth of Alias. Tries way to hard to be cute and funny, which gets in the way of the thriller aspect.

I can't quite tell if Piper Perabo isn't believable as the character, or if the character just isn't believable at all. Probably a big chunk of the second, but perhaps some of the first. Not saying Piper sucks. But they try to hard to get across why she's qualified for what she's gotten dropped into so quickly out of nowhere (trainee --> field spy in 0-120 without even observing other "pros" working first). It's just not believable.

Blind Guy. Cute Blind Guy. Cute Funny Impossibly Talented Blind Guy That All The Chicks Are Hot For. Yeah... they're trying way too fucking hard with the character. A cute, funny, talented blind character in an ongoing series is an interesting concept, though one worries about the character being sustainable as a regular member of a team as I don't think a "writing team" is always filled up with writers of *individual* episodes who would be able to come up with something of quality for the character to do in every episode. Very interesting concept, and I'd love to see someone pull it off in a series where Cute Blind Guy wasn't just the once an episode next door neighbor giving helpful life advice to the lead, but instead something with some regular meat to it. But in a spy setting, working in a significant CIA Division in Langley... maybe they pull a miracle out of their ass in the balance of the season and make this work. Last night, it just was't believable, to the point that it ground the mind to a halt in most of his scenes. I think it's going to be really hard to pull off. :/

I don't have a great deal of hope for the show. I feel bad for Kari being in a role that's not bad for her at this point in her career (playing a boss and mentor to a younger agent), but it being on a show that's not so hot.

John


I like Perabo more than most, and I am a sucker for action chicks (Alias and Chuck and Burn Notice all have great ones, of course). But I watched the pilot not long after it came out -- bought it on Amazon video, actually. And I couldn't even finish it. She just seemed so wrong for it, and everything felt so ridiculous. I made it about as far as her meeting the Russian guy in the hotel before giving up.

I haven't watched it since, even though I am pretty sure it's on Hulu. And you have to really screw it up to make me not like a show with a kickass chick on it, especially an actress I already enjoy.
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jdw
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah... I kind of zoned out of it pretty fast. Didn't find the office politics stuff interesting (despite Kari and her "ex-husband" both being actors I like). Perabo didn't do much for me as the lead... again think it was more the role and series than her. Never took to the Blind Guy, and the series as I pointed to above was trying way too hard with him.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On another series...

I'm starting to watch The Mentalist this year. Goes against my general rule of "Don't Jump Into A Series In The Middle"... but it's on after CSI, and I was getting lazy about flipping the channel.

Wouldn't expect to care about it as Quirky Person Helping Cops isn't always one of my favorite genres. Never got into Monk, though I suspect in hindsight I might have if I put the effort into it. I'm down with quirky cops (Saving Grace as excellent) and quirky outside law enforcement (Rockford Files was an all-time classic). But Quirky Person solving the cases that the cops can't... annoying.

What do I like about it?

It's light, not exactly hard edged. I tend to like harder stuff, such as digging a re-run of the first season of Prime Suspect that's on local PBS at the moment. Hill Street Blues (when it came out), Homicide, The Wire, Cracker... I like those a lot. But older, softer, kinder jdw seems to not mind some light tv on while working on some stuff. Or as a central thing rather than working on something else. :) Castle, Leverage... light entertainment.

In a show like this, tolerance of it is always dictated by whether you can watch the lead or not. I haven't been a big Simon Baker in his prior stuff, such as The Gurdian. His Patrick Jane chracter is off course quirky as all hell. Mix in the standard "tormented soul" stuff (for the expected reason since he's helping homicide dicks), and you pretty much have something I shouldn't like. Why can I watch it? Not quite sure. The tormented soul stuff isn't badly done. His quirkiness, especially his ability to annoy people is usually watchable. We've seen a lot of it before, going back to Holmes... but Baker does a pretty good job of making you see a *character* on the screne rather than Pretty Boy Baker.

Usually to tolerate a show like this, you have to like the co-lead. Usually due to the fact that most shows like this eventually have the leads banging if they're male-female. This one skips over that. Jane is extremely withdrawn in that way (given the reason he's tormented), and just briefly showed small signs of getting past that with another reoccuring character. That didn't end well, so we can safely see Jane going back down the rabbit hole of not getting into any personal relationship until the central mystery of the show is solved. Lisbon, on the other hand, had a nice little moment that was a "surprise" with another reoccurring character... that was pretty damn funny. So it seems that the show has no plans of hooking Jane and Lisbon up, which is good...

Because there are no sparks between Lisbon and Jane / Robin Tunney and Baker. They play it that way, but there's also some level of lack of charisma between the two. Lord knows Baker has a lot of charisma in the role, which is easy since he gets to play over the top. Tunney... it's strange. I'm not digging Tunney in the role. She looks constantly tired and put upon, which is to a degree fitting with a homicide dick and one having to deal with quirky Jane. But within the context of the storylines and scripts, she's put upon and looking like she needs to be worn down. This isn't exactly Jimmy and Bunk in The Wire who've been fucked up the ass by the weight of their job and the shithole of Baltimore PD politics. I just don't care for the tone and how she carries herself in the role.

I don't expect happy-go-lucky, and I don't expect here to be crying over victims. But there's very little "cop banter", ever the fake Hollywood type. There's very little feel for a veteran cop, which at under-40 she doesn't look like she should be... but she's also the Senior Special Agent, so she should have some of that.

Which gets to another problem that relates to the writting: Lisbon and Jane don't really "work together".

A contrast would be Castle, where Rick rides along with the cops and helps then solve crimes. He very clearly is working *with* the cops to solve the crimes, and while he has fun throwing out goofy theories early, when it gets down to crunh time, we see him very clearly working with Beckett to has out the mystery. We ofter see him coming up with something at home, rushing to the station, only to find that Beckett has figred that something out as well. When they brainstorm, they're bouncing stuff off each other, working on the same lines, filling in blanks for each other while the other leaps ahead to the next item. Ricky isn't out there soliving crimes on his own: he's part of a "team", and clearly Beckett is ahead of him in terms of the cop solving the crimes.

With Lisbon... are we really seeing her as a great cop? We get it with Bekcett: she's portrayed as a mo-fo of a cop, a leader of her team, looked up to by the junior member of her team, really respected by her Lt, and obviously Castle thinks she's a great cop. With Lisbon? It's spoken, but not really shown enough.

So the Lisbon character could be done a hell of a lot better. Tunney in it... I'm just not digging her.

In the supporting cast, Van Pelt and Rigsby aren't doing a ton for me. I'm leary of cracking open the Season 1 & 2 disks to see what I know they did with the two of them, having a feeling that it's going to be hard to watch. I do like the issue Rigsby is currently having with the internal investigation, but that's about as far is it goes. Amanda Righetti as Van Pelt is your standard Hotty On The Team that we see in so many throw away cop shows. Credibility is zero the instant you start watching. That said, I tend to think she'd "okay" in season 3. Do dread that earlier stuff between Van Pelt & Rigsby.

I like Cho, and he's clearly the most interesting of the supporting cast... and frankly more interesting than Lisbon. You'd almost rather see it as Cho & Jane, as his straight arrow work would be a great contrast. On the other hand, it would make for tough writing when interviewing people as you can't really have that stylistically in every interview scene that a lead down. Works in a secondary character when you see it a time or two each episode. Still... the character would be a more interesting onion to peel than Lisbon.

So why do I watch it after all that mostly unenthusiastic stuff?

I guess that Jane vs Red John stuff is one of those interesting mysteries that you want to see solved. Even after joining it *this* season, it has enough of a pull in a light entertainment show to kind of want to see how it turns out. It's twisty and you get the feeling that there's something deep going on that's letting him get away with this shit. Mix in the very interesting LaRoche being recently, and you're starting to get a good paraniod vibe going on with the show.

Not a show I would recommend. If someone thinks it sucks, wouldn't argue with that: I can easily find things about the show that I'd rather see. But it's also one where if someone likes it, I wouldn't argue with them. It can be a watchable light entertainment show.

John
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jdw
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

White Collar is back for seven episode "winter-run" to close Season 2.

The Summer run (Season 2.1) finished with the usual cliff hanger, one that you sort of expect not to be as shocking as it played: Mozzie getting shot and left for dead. Mozzie is such a fun little supporting character in the show that it's hard to see him written out unless the actor got an offer for something bigger. Since he's such a character actor, that seems like a reach. Plus, 12-16 episode seasons of Cable on short production schedules make it easy enough to do other work around them. So we all knew Mozzie was likely to live, so not a ton of Big Drama there.

One of the things I was pointing to in earlier posts about Season 2.1 is that a lot of it was "filler": the show was turnin into a Regular Series with them having Regular Cases that didn't have a lot to do with Neil's mystery. That's to be expected: if you're going to have a long running series on these type of shows, you're going to have to stretch the Big Mystery out. The only way to do that is have regular cases.

Season 2.2 started off with an episode on finding Mozzie's shooter, and tying it into the Big Mystery. Done. In addition, they appear to be outting the Big Mystery, which flips things into into Getting The Big Bad Guy mode for the series. It will be interesting to see if they wrap a big chunk of that up by the season's end, or cliff hanger it. And if they cliffer hanger it, will they at least give the audience a Got The Big Bad Guy only to uncover a Worse Guy (i.e. some mole in the FBI) that needs to be chased down next season.

It's one thing to string along a Love Story like Castle-Beckett because that's a key element of the story to tease it out, along with the worry that you'll ruin the dynamic of the show if they start banging. With a Big Mystery, you can string things out so long that you lose the audience. From what I've read, Monk did it right until the end. Probably would have driven me nuts. I'd just as soone see a Big Mystery wrapped up on one major level in 2-3 seasons, unless you've you're Creative team are wizards in stretching it out. With White Collar, I worry a bit about it being strung out too long. There's no reason not to have some closure for Neil, only to flip things onto something that Burke is chasing through a long story arc.

John
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