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White Collar

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Oct 23, 2009 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
474 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

FBI Agent Peter Burke takes an unconventional route in tracking down a ruthless and devious outlaw named "Dutchman". In order to catch the counterfeiter, he employs the help of incarcerated con man, Neal Caffrey.

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  • White Collar

    My favorite TV Show EVER!
  • Pilot

    One of the best clean shows i have seen in years
  • *** Spoiler-free *** Irresistible con-man but jarring partner, twisted and entertaining story, dry ending and anticipated episodic format, disastrous production and sexism

    The story of a con-man becoming a FBI consultant instantly sounded exciting. The pilot has it flaws but overall it was a charming, refreshing and quite funny episode. Its highlight was definitely Matthew Bomer's performance. He was just irresistible as Neal Caffrey. From the acting to his skilled profile everything about the character felt right. But the problem is that Tim DeKay jarred with him as special agent Peter Burke. First his performance wasn't so convincing and at times it was even over the top. Their chemistry was correct but it could have been better. Second the character itself was baked from an old recipe. Seriously how many times will they serve us with the obsessed cop that doesn't have time to take care of his wife ? Third you should question his intelligence because it was definitely not a match for Neal's one, brilliant and sharp. It's specially disappointing if you consider cult versus like Michael Scofield and Alexander Mahone in Prison Break. Both were so smart and unpredictable !

    As for the story it was well written and had a few twists that should surprise you. Some of them were quite creative and Neal can only grow on the audience with so many qualities. However his motivation wasn't clear because his past wasn't covered and the reason of his escape unoriginal. But the major issue, like for so many other procedural shows, was the format. All the events could have been developed across multiple episodes. In fact like for Prison Break they could have filled a whole season with them. I wasn't asking Caffrey to pull a Scofield but chasing the antagonist for like thirteen episodes could have been captivating. With such an end it had so much potential ! I mean the writers didn't leave us anything to hope for. What will happen next ? We already know ! Cat and mouse weekly episodes with good and bad scripts. I'll pass !

    Last but not least an other major con was the production quality. With all the budget cuts it seems the studios can't afford anymore to have immersive lighting and well post-processed episodes. Like for Covert Affairs and other recent shows 90% of the episode seemed like watching reality TV. From the disastrous outdoor scenes to the homemade look and feel it was really painful for the eyes. With no doubt, it won't age well. It's a pity if you consider how beautiful Bomer is and attention to details, like the outfits and set design. Even the gorgeous women revolving around him couldn't hide these seams. Their roles were so anecdotic that I question the morality of the show creator. Female characters shouldn't be limited to serving men passively or petting the dog. Anyone for an evil James Bond girl ? The antagonist could have been a woman for example. What about a dual story featuring his girlfriend ? The possibilities are endless when it comes to a heavy format.moreless
  • Neil Caffrey seems to be a con man that wouldn't get caught unless he wants too. After many years FBI Agent Peter Burke tracked him down. When a really difficult case of fraud comes up Burke and Caffrey form a tenuous partnership to catch the thief.moreless

    Very clever initial episode of what could be one of the better shows on television. It will be interesting to see how close to reality these stories will come. What a tremendous take off of the famous Hanks/DiCaprio Catch Me If You Can film and the real life of Frank Abagnale Jr..

    The main characters Neil Caffrey played by Matthew Bomer and Peter Burke played by Tim DeKay are very believable as the con man and his watcher. The nice part is like in the true story the FBI man was one of the few people alive who was truly smart or tenacious enough to catch this con man. Also the two had a real affinity for each other and later became true friends. It is the conman's devil may care attitude which gets him caught and you feel like if he really applied himself he never would ever be caught.

    The supporting cast made up of Elizabeth Burke played by Tiffani Thiessen, Mozzie played by Willie Garson, and FBI Agent Diana Lancing played by Marsha Thomason seems solid and without any major flaws. I also enjoyed the cameo by Diahann Carroll as the widower that takes Neil in.

    Overall the story was a little far fetched but reasonable enough to feel it is somewhat plausible. I enjoyed it immensely and it had me interested and laughing at different parts.

    Pretty enjoyable first shot at this. I really hope that it stays at this level of clever stories and interesting characters. It could be a lot of fun. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • I liked this fist show. Looking forward to tonights. Lots of humor and realism.

    I'll be watching this show again. Kept me laughing. Kept me interested in what was going to happen. Not cheesy. Great cast; they seem to click with each other. Loved seeing Diane Carroll in this. I'll stay up to watch this show tonight and the next time it is on. There is unlimited story lines for this type of show. I hope the writers are up for it to keep it good. Great challenge for you to keep it interesting and funny without being repetative. Keep us coming back each week. Lot's of shows start out great and after a while you just know what is going to happen so keep it interesting for us and you will gain a huge fan list. Thanks for the great show.moreless
Don Kurt

Don Kurt

Rich Man

Guest Star

Michael Gaston

Michael Gaston


Guest Star

Neal Matarazzo

Neal Matarazzo

Warden Haskley

Guest Star

Diahann Carroll

Diahann Carroll


Recurring Role

Mark Sheppard

Mark Sheppard

Curtis Hagen

Recurring Role

Sharif Atkins

Sharif Atkins


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • GOOF: When Peter is talking to the U.S. Marshall at the Prison, he says, "Why would Neal run with three months left on a four year sentence?" Later, when Peter is talking to Neal at Kate's apartment, he says, "They asked me 'what makes a guy like you pull a bone-headed escape with four months to go?'" However, Neal started preparing his escape about a month before he ran.

    • GOOF: When June sets down the suits she's donating, she takes off a glove. When the camera angle changes, she's wearing both gloves again.

    • GOOF: The museum curator says that the Spanish Victory Bond was issued in 1944 to support the Spanish underground fighting the Axis. This is historically wrong. Spanish Civil War ended in 1939 and although Franco was a Fascist and received help from Hitler and Mussolini he never joined the Axis and was neutral in WWII.

    • GOOF: The covers of the Snow White books read "Blanco Nieves", a bad spanish translation. The correct name is Blanca nieves (with an "a", as she is female).

    • GOOF: As Burke receives a cell phone call in his bedroom about Caffrey's GPS anklet, he is in a white t-shirt. He then grabs his shirt and tie from the bed. While descending the stairs, still on the phone with no break in the conversation, he is already wearing both his shirt and tie.

    • GOOF: The wine bottle that Caffrey is holding in Kate's apartment as Burke recaptures him is not a Bordeaux bottle, as is labeled. Bordeaux bottles have more of a definite "shoulder", instead of the gradual neck that the bottle Caffrey is holding.

    • Neal's note to Peter at the hotel reads: "Dear Peter, I have moved 1.6 miles. 87 Riverside Drive. XOXO, Neal"

    • Neal Caffrey was incarcerated for bond forgery and has been suspected of counterfeiting, securities fraud, art theft, and racketeering.

  • QUOTES (22)

    • Neal: Are we surrounded? (Peter nods) How many?
      Peter: Including my agents, and the Marshals... All of them, I think.

    • Burke: You know, this makes me 3-0.
      Caffrey: Maybe I'm not trying hard enough.

    • Caffrey: I thought the FBI had a policy.
      Burke: That's the military, we don't ask, we don't care.

    • Caffrey: You figure out your anniversary plans yet?
      Burke: I'm gettin' close, very close.
      Caffrey: So... you got nothin'?
      Burke: Nothin'.

    • Burke: What am I gonna do?
      Caffrey: No. No more relationship advice from this side of the car. Call Dr. Phil, okay?

    • Burke: There's more to this... more to this than some lost love -- some side-angle he's playin'.
      Elizabeth: So you're suggesting he escapes a maximum-security prison, knowing full well that you'd catch him, just so he could trick you into letting him out again?
      Burke: It's a working theory.
      Elizabeth: Yeah, keep working. Is it so hard for you to believe a man would do that for the woman he loves?

    • (After the safe explodes)
      Jones: How did you know it was gonna do that?
      Burke: Three, two, four. Give me your phones. What does it spell?
      Jones: Oh, FBI.
      Burke: Yeah, FBI.
      Jones: Apparently, he knew we were coming.
      Burke: You think so, Copernicus?

    • Burke: I see Kate moved out. Did she leave you a message in that?
      Caffrey: The bottle is the message.
      Burke: It's been a while.
      Caffrey: Yeah, a few years, give or take.
      Burke: Are you carrying?
      Caffrey: You know I don't like guns.

    • Caffrey: You've been after the Dutchman almost as long as you are after me. I'll help you catch him.
      Burke: Really? Really, how does that work? You want to be prison pen pals?

    • Elizabeth: Can he help you find him?
      Burke: Neal's smart. You know how much I like smart.
      Elizabeth: Is he as smart as those Ivy League co-eds they throw at you?
      Burke: He's almost as brilliant as a woman I married.
      Elizabeth: Ooh, good answer!

    • Burke: (Sips from cup) It's perfect. Even the fricking coffee is perfect. (June laughs) That's not jewelry on his ankle, you know. He's a felon.
      June: (On her late husband) So was Byron.

    • Caffrey: Look, you tell me which rule I broke, and I will thumb it back to prison myself.
      Burke: For starters... I work hard. I do my job well. And I don't have a $10 million view of Manhattan that I share with a 22-year-old art student while we sip espresso.
      Caffrey: Why not?
      Burke: Why not?! Because I'm not supposed to. The amount of work I do equals certain things in the real world. Not cappuccino in the clouds.
      Caffrey: Look, I will find out where June buys her coffee if it's that important to you.
      Burke: It's not about the coffee.
      Caffrey: I think it is.
      Burke: No, it's not. This is what gets you into trouble. This is the start of those something-for-nothing schemes that lead to the frauds that got you locked up.
      Caffrey: I think it's some sort of Italian roast.
      Burke: Get in the car!

    • Burke: You are way out of your league.
      Caffrey: Oh, harmless flirting. It's like a dance.
      Burke: Nah, there is no dance. You're not even on (Diana's) dance card. No dancing for you.
      Caffrey: Um, she digs the hat.
      Burke: Um, she'd rather be wearing the hat.

    • (Talking about the Spanish Victory Bond)
      Vincent: This is the only surviving copy.
      Caffrey: Except it's a forgery.
      Vincent: No. That's not possible.
      Burke: What are you talking about?
      Caffrey: Ah, It's the ink. This is iron gal dye mixed to match period colors, but it hasn't dried yet. You can still smell the gum arabic.
      Vincent: Uh, no. This has been here since 1952.
      Caffrey: It's been here less than a week.

    • Caffrey: What's [Elizabeth] into?
      Burke: Sexually?
      Caffrey: No. No. Existentially. What makes her feel alive?
      Burke: I'm drawing a blank.
      Caffrey: How could you not know? When you were chasing me, you knew my shoe size, what time I woke up in the morning.
      Burke: That's the job. Very different.
      Caffrey: So, a relationship isn't work?
      Burke: Oh, no, no. You don't get to lecture me on relationships. My wife didn't change her identity and flee the country to get away from me.

    • Mozzie: You know the worst thing about art forgery? You can't take credit for your work.

    • Caffrey: Did you really put Elizabeth under surveillance before you asked her out? Peter, I underestimated you.
      Burke: You told him?
      Elizabeth: He said he wanted to make sure that I wasn't seeing anybody else. Honey, I think it's cute.
      Caffrey: I think it's adorable.
      Burke: I'm putting you back in prison.

    • Caffrey: This is your wife's Visa bill.
      Burke: Yeah. I got it all. Her eBay bids, video rentals, library books. Thank you, Patriot Act.
      Caffrey: So you're stalking your own wife?
      Burke: Want to compare notes?
      Caffrey: Touché.

    • (Mozzie secretly rendezvous with Neal)
      Caffrey: You don't smoke.
      Mozzie: What was I supposed to do... fire off a flare?

    • Burke: You know, you're really bad at this escape thing.
      Caffrey: What can I say? Cigar?
      Burke: Cuban?
      Caffrey: You should arrest me.
      Burke: I'll let the cigar go, but you are a fleeing suspect.

    • Elizabeth: (To dog eating off of plate) Chew your food. You sound like your father.

    • Caffrey: How upset were the Canadians?
      Burke: Oh, very... well, as upset as Canadians can get.

  • NOTES (7)

    • The episode is also known as "White Collar Pilot," as listed on other TV sites.

    • Casting Order & Dates:
      • 10/21/2008 - Tim DeKay (FBI Agent Peter Burke)
      • 10/21/2008 - Matthew Bomer (Neal Caffrey)
      • 10/31/2008 - Willie Garson (Mozzie)
      • 11/11/2008 - Tiffani Thiessen (Elizabeth Burke)
      • 12/08/2008 - Marsha Thomason (FBI Agent Diana Barrigan)
      • 09/08/2009 - Natalie Morales (FBI Agent Lauren Cruz)

    • Bobby Darin's song "The Good Life" is featured in the episode. Written by French crooner Sacha Distel in 1963 as La Belle Vie, "The Good Life" has been covered by over 300 performers, including, most famously, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dionne Warwick. "The Good Life" is also the title of USA Network's sweepstakes promo wherein viewers have a chance to win the grand prize of a four-day trip to New York City plus shopping privileges at Madison Avenue retailers.

    • Featured Music:
      • "Hold On I'm Coming" by Sam & Dave
      • "The Good Life" by Bobby Darin.

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Canada - October 30, 2009 on Bravo
      Australia - November 25, 2009 on Channel 10
      Latin America - March 9, 2010 on FOX
      Sweden - April 7, 2010 on TV4+
      United Kingdom - April 21, 2010 on Bravo
      Czech Republic - September 2/9, 2010 on Prima
      Bulgaria - May 23/24, 2011 on bTV Cinema
      Germany - September 13, 2011 on RTL
      Slovakia - August 20, 2012 on JOJ Plus

    • Filming of the series began on August 2009. Shooting was done on location in and around New York City.

    • This is a special 90-minute series premiere episode which airs after the 10th episode of Monk's 8th and final season. The following 13 regular episodes of the show are one hour long.


    • Mozzie: (to Caffrey) You flew too close to the sun, my friend. They burned your wings.

      In Greek mythology, Icarus, son of Daedalus, fell to his death after flying too close to the sun and getting his wings burned.

    • Mozzie: I saw the best mind of my generation run down by the taxi-cab of absolute reality.
      Caffrey: Mozzie! What the hell – sitting in the dark, misquoting Ginsberg?

      Allusion to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg's famous 1956 poem, "Howl", which begins, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness."

    • Burke: You look like a cartoon!
      Caffrey: This is classic Rat Pack - this is Devore!
      Burke: Oh, sorry, Dino.

      Alluding to a group of popular entertainers in the 1960s, consisting of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. Burke sarcastically calls Caffrey "Dino", in reference to Dean Martin. Sy Devore was known as the tailor for the group among other famous celebrities.