Alibi, Tuesday, February 19, 10pm
Back in my formative years there were a handful of characters from American television shows that I would happily have swapped three Penguin bars and a packet of roast beef Monster Munch to be. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, because he led the best damn soldiers of fortune to survive amongst the Los Angeles underground, otherwise known as The A-Team.
Stringfellow Hawk, pilot of the coolest jet-black, mach one-plus attack helicopter to take to the skies, otherwise known as Airwolf. And Zack Morris, one of a group of pupils constantly Saved By The Bell at California’s Bayside High School and on/off boyfriend to the hottest girl my hormonally-unbalanced childhood self had set eyes on to date, otherwise known as Kelly Kapowski.
Of course, many moons have passed since that infatuation, and with all innocence thoroughly beaten out of me on the rocky road to adulthood, Miss Kapowski et al are dim and distant memories that only quick visits to YouTube could revive. Until, that is, I caught up with White Collar, the latest inconsequential drama to transfer from a minor cable channel in the States to a minor digital channel over here in Blighty.
For there, amidst the ranks of its suited, booted and impeccably dentured cast, is the charming Tiffani Thiessen, aka Kelly Kapowski, older but still radiant enough to remind me how many years it’s been since she held the honour of being one of my first televisual crushes.
This may seem apropos of not very much at all, but for this reviewer it was easily the most significant moment in a show that, however breezy and fun, is largely forgettable. It’s a sort of small screen Catch Me If You Can meets Ocean’s Eleven (minus ten), with the devilishly handsome Matt Bomer playing Neal Caffrey, a once incarcerated con-artist who now assists the FBI in return for his liberty. In last night’s episode, however (the first of the White Collar’s third season), Caffrey appears to have fallen back into old habits and is attempting to conceal a rather large stash of plundered Nazi treasure from the suspicions of his employer.
That’s right: plundered Nazi treasure. An indication, if not a blaring alarm klaxon, that White Collar is very, very silly. But then, on reflection, so were the likes of The A-Team, Airwolf and Saved By The Bell, which I now lionise – hazily and without a great deal of clarity, thanks to the ravages of time – as classics.
Will people hold it in such high stead 25 years down the line? Probably not. But if one journalist, desperate to churn out a few hundred words, is able to bulk up an article with recollections of the time he wanted to be Neal Caffrey, who am I to dismiss it as good-natured pap?