White Collar won’t change a thing in season two

BY FRED TOPEL

WARNING: SEASON ONE SPOILERS FOLLOW

The cast and creators of USA’s new hit drama White Collar greeted their fans at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, CA Tuesday night. The local television organization hosted a panel discussion among the show’s talent. Speaking to press before the evening began, their message was clear: we’ll be the same show you love next year. 

“My hopes and goals for season two are to continue to have a lot of fun which we get to do, especially in relating to Tim’s character, Peter,” said Matthew Bomer, who plays con artist Neal Caffrey. “I hope they keep that banter crisp and witty and fun and fresh and also get to see their relationship grow and develop and change. I think what we found that I’ve enjoyed in season one is having this private life with Mozzie where he was doing the subterfuge sort of, and the public life with Peter where he was cooperating with the FBI and doing all that.”

Many shows get so ambitious after a successful debut that they go too far away from what the fans liked in the first place. White Collar producer Jeff Eastin is reigning himself in.

“Really what I want to do in season two is just do over and over again the things we did right in season one,” Eastin said. “That’ really what we want to do. The temptation to sort of change and really mix it up, I’ve tried to overcome that and really just try to get back to what I think worked in season one and just keep going. Really make it about Peter and Neal’s relationship, try to expand a little bit on the characters we already know, find out a little more about Mozzie’s past, things like that.” 

As FBI agent Peter Burke, actor Tim DeKay just wants to continue the one on one dynamic with Neal. “I want more stakeout scenes,” DeKay said. “I want to put the two of us in a car more often.”

If you’re not watching White Collar yet, the premise is that Agent Burke uses Neal’s criminal talents to help solve crimes. Each week is a new case, but they still have some continuing plot to tie up. Neal’s old flame met an explosive end in the season finale.

“Hopefully, on the side I’ll be looking for whoever killed Kate and trying to avenge her death,” Bomer said. “Also seeing if cooperating with the FBI is something I really plan on doing long term. I think Neal really lives in the gray areas. I think he likes to have his cake and eat it too, go over here a little bit to get this and go over here a little bit to get that. Right now, he’s trying to figure out how to have both. One way he grew in the first season was seeing how rewarding it can be to actually help people and affect their lives positively by helping the FBI. We’ll see where he goes with that. I don’t know.”

Some fans are even guessing that Kate might not really be dead. Eastin isn’t offering any spoilers on that front. “No comment,” Eastin joked. “Truly dead or she exists in Neal’s memory and that’s enough to keep her alive.”

As the show established its ensemble, the supporting cast have defined their roles. Neal’s old cohort Mozzie (Willie Garson) has begun helping out on cases, so that is likely to continue next year. “I think that’s been ramping up,” Garson said. “It was definitely a decision of the show and of the network that we have this really popular character. We have to have the FBI at least be aware of him. So that was a big decision. Once that happened, now the doors are opened. From episode five on, okay, now he’s in every case. So that’s great and that’s the funnest part for me, playing different people, doing the crimes that we always did together. Now we’re just doing them for the good guys. We don’t care. We don’t care who we’re doing it for. It doesn’t matter as long as we get to keep doing capers together.”

Characters like Agent Jones (Sharif Atkins) will likely continue their role supporting Agent Burke and Neal. That’s fine with Atkins. He wants to see the quality of the show remain consistent. “Especially you’ve got a first season that went well and I think you don’t want to run away from the very thing that brought people to you to begin with,” Atkins said. “I think they’re going to stick with the capers and the case and solving them with humor and wit.”

Garson concurs with his colleagues “if it ain’t broke” attitude. “I have to say, I’ve been really happy with the way it’s been,” Garson said. “On every other show I’ve been on, I’ve been like, ‘I wish they would let me…’ On this one it’s really just go with whatever. What they’re writing is great and they never are shy about bringing Mozzie in. I’ve become like kind of a go to guy for them and I’m like great, keep it up. I love it. I love every minute of it. My kid loves it. I love it. We’re not hurting anyone and we’re making people think. It’s thinking man’s TV which is a rarity right now.”

The only thing Atkins anticipates changing is the show’s popularity, in a good way. “I’m hoping for viewership that triples and quadruples,” Atkins said. “That’s what I’m hoping for season two.”

White Collar goes back into production this month for USA.

“WHITE COLLAR” PREVIEW

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