Monday, November 9, 2009

Barbie Ruins Three Rivers and White Collar

Dr. Doctor Andy Yablonski Alex O'Loughlin Amber Clayton Dr. Lisa Reed Three Rivers Where We Lie screencaps images photos smile grin pictures
Why, Three Rivers, why? After I just talked about episode 5, "Code Green", and how much I enjoyed the lack of "blonde Barbie" doctors, Three Rivers introduces a...blonde Barbie doctor. And as a love interest for Dr. Andy Yablonski (Alex O'Loughlin), no less.

I knew we were in trouble two weeks ago, when they got rid of Andy's wife as soon as they introduced her. Now in "Where we lie", they throw Dr. Lisa Reed (Amber Clayton) into his arms, in the midst of one of the worst scenes I've seen on TV in awhile. Now admittedly, the cliche-ridden dialogue of Reed's childhood trauma was bad enough, but Clayton's delivery was awkward and completely unconvincing.

And I hate to bang on the same drum, but it would be nice if they could hook up Yablonski with a more substantial woman. O'Loughlin is a decent-sized guy, and yet you can see in the photo above that Clayton barely makes it into the frame with him. Add to that the fact that all I could focus on in their "emotional" scene was how her collar bone was jutting out of her baggy clothes. Could Hollywood PLEASE let women eat already?

Three Rivers has so many good qualities and good characters. It's a shame they feel they have to ruin it with a love interest storyline that is flimsy, cliched, and unsatisfying in several different ways.

Neal Caffrey Matt Bomer Lauren Cruz Natalie Morales White Collar Flip of the Coin screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capture glasses agentThen we have White Collar, the new Matt Bomer (Chuck) vehicle from USA. White Collar had a delightfully slick, sexy, and fun pilot episode. There was an intriguing plot, interesting characters, and a wonderful rapport between Bomer's white collar criminal Neal Caffrey and Tim DeKay's FBI agent Peter Burke.

I liked that even though Burke was the straight man to Caffrey's charming con man, Burke was smart and cunning and worthy of respect. He's also got an attractive and intelligent wife at home (Tiffani Thiessen), and had a no-nonsense, efficient right-hand woman in Diana (Marsha Thomason). I say "had", because after the pilot, Diana disappeared.

So now, instead of having a cool, classy woman who is immune to Caffrey's charms, White Collar introduced Lauren Cruz (Natalie Morales)--the Barbie FBI agent who first appears in a hooker outfit showing off her impossibly tiny figure. And then we get the obligatory flirting with Caffrey, which just plunges the show into typical cliche.

Tim DeKay Peter Burke Agent White Collar Flip of the Coin screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs captureMorales at least seems to be an okay actress, but her believability as an FBI agent is seriously strained. Word is that Thomason had scheduling conflicts that prevented her from doing the full series of White Collar, but her IMDB page only lists a guest spot on General Hospital, which doesn't seem like that big of a conflict.

It's more likely that USA decided Matt Bomer's attractiveness was skewing the audience too much to the female side. The antidote: add some eye candy to bring in the men. Unfortunately, they also seem to have diminshed the slickness and intelligence of the plotlines, focusing more on flirting and sexual antics. We don't need 12 characters telling us how hot Caffrey is--we can figure that out on our own, thanks.

White Collar is also in danger of making Burke the foil, instead of an equal partner to Caffrey, and that will be a HUGE mistake. DeKay is charming and sexy, too, and it's more fun to see the two boys taking down criminals as a team instead of clever boytoy and bumbling FBI lackey. They haven't taken it that extreme, yet, but I worry they're heading in that direction.

USA and CBS, please listen--dump the Barbies and cliches and focus instead on what's awesome about the shows and characters you're creating.

Watch Three Rivers on CBS, Sunday nights at 9/8c. Watch White Collar on USA, Friday nights at 10/9c.

PHOTOS: Alex O'Loughlin as Dr. Andy Yablonski, Amber Clayton as Dr. Lisa Reed, Three Rivers "Where We Lie" screencap, c2009 CBS; Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey, Natalie Morales as Agent Lauren Cruz, White Collar "Flip of the Coin" screencap, c2009 20th Century Fox, USA network.

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