Do not let your dog watch USA Network's new White Collar.

The likable show, premiering Friday at 10 p.m., has something for everyone: handsome young star, sympathetic "older" costar, pretty former TV hottie, easy-to-follow caper plots, a little humor.

Tonight, the workaholic FBI agent (played by Tim DeKay, 46) loses track of time on the big case. His wife (Tiffani Thiessen, who has dropped the "Amber" since Beverly Hills, 90210 and is all the way up to 35 years old) has a nice dinner ready when he calls to apologize.

Instead, the dog gets it, sitting in a chair at the dining room table, wolfing (or maybe just dogging) the food off a china plate. So many people model their behavior after what they see on TV. Imagine what dogs will do if they see this.

It's really the only edgy scene in White Collar, which tonight manages to have a prison escape and a huge forgery case and a big confrontation at a warehouse "down by the docks" with nary a gunshot, punch or distasteful word. The show is set in New York City, with its miles and miles of waterfront, but apparently "down by the docks" is a very specific location.

Collar completes a neat package behind new episodes of Monk and tells the story of super scam artist Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer, who was a super-handsome CIA agent in NBC's Chuck and continues to display his roguish good looks here) and FBI guy Peter Burke.

Caffrey's so smart and plugged in, partially thanks to his nebbish buddy, played by the cool Willie Garson, that he gets to stay out of prison after fooling everybody and walking out the front door, so he can help Burke with his intricate cases. But don't worry, they're explained just enough so that anybody can understand what's going on.

Through a silly combination of luck and charm, con Caffrey winds up with a whole Rat Pack's worth of retro clothes, living in a mansion with a rooftop garden and a hot art student, much to the chagrin of the civil servant G-man. His brownstone is probably worth $3 million or $4 million, but only those familiar with New York real estate would know that, and they won't be watching basic cable, at least not this show, on a Friday night.

I hope the people who do watch have DVRs to help them zoom through all the ads. Poor NBC Universal, which owns USA, has to make money somehow, and it has programmed a "90-minute" special premiere that has almost half an hour of commercials.

Touting the dreary Jay Leno Show at 10 p.m., NBC has argued that a lot of people don't want grim mayhem just before they go to bed. The breezy, easy White Collar should appeal precisely to those folks, who can relax and have fun and let NBC worry whether the series will dilute Leno's already abysmal ratings.

Jonathan Storm:


White Collar

10 p.m. tomorrow on USA

Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or Read his recent blog at