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Castle opener

A television crime series on ABC.

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King, Queen, and Pawns

  • Jul 25, 2013
Rating:
+2
I could launch into a wild explanation of Castle, and tell you all the many, many things that are wonderful about it. Let's face it, though; anyone being honest will tell you they're only watching Castle for two reasons: The first is the witty, sparkling banter between main characters Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). The second is all the cute little Easter Eggs which are hidden in the show for all the geeks to collect.

And don't let yourself get fooled about it: Geeks are the main audience for Castle. The second executive producers Andrew Marlowe, Rob Bowman, and Barry Schindel were able to cast Nathan Fillion in the title role, they knew they had a massive and fervently devoted built-in audience. While Castle premiered in 2009, sci-fi devotees still know, remember, and love Fillion for his defining role as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Joss Whedon's half-season cult classic Firefly. Seven years removed from Firefly as a TV show and another four removed from the big screen version of Firefly, Fillion is a popular icon of the genre who comes across as a man who truly loved his role as Mal and is very happy to indulge fans. It's a great testament to the producers that after landing a major coup like Fillion, they didn't half-ass anything or try to fly on his name alone.

Castle is your basic Murder of the Week premise. There's one major twist: The main character of the show isn't actually a detective or a cop. He's a very popular and well-loved mystery writer named Richard Castle. Awhile ago, Castle decided to challenge himself when he killed off Derrick Storm. This sounds worse than it really is; Derrick Storm was not a human being, but a fictional character who was the lead character in many of Castle's books. Without Storm, Castle is now stuck with a severe case of writer's block. Right around this time this was going on, though, there was a copycat killer running around basing his murders on Castle's books, so Castle is brought in for questioning. Castle gets a spark being part of the case, and so even after everything is all figured out, he uses his friendship with the Mayor of New York City to pull some strings and get him a prime spot on the front lines of crimefighting. He's now shadowing a detective named Kate Beckett, an avid reader of Castle's books. At first she's annoyed by Castle, but eventually Castle wins her over and becomes a useful resource in her team's investigations.

Castle and Beckett. Beckett and Castle. They're the headliners, the ones you're going to watch this show for, and really the only truly developed and interesting characters on it. These two characters ARE interesting, make no mistake about it. On the outside, they're a stereotypical debauched playboy (Castle) and rigid, by-the-book tough detective (Beckett). Yet, Castle is also shown to be very big-hearted, and a loving relative to his mother and daughter, whom he lives with. Beckett's mother was killed, and Beckett has repeatedly shown a dark side which plays hard, loose with the rules, and downright nasty when it comes to tracking down her mother's killer. Big props to Fillion and Katic for bringing such incredible depths to a pair of characters who might have otherwise turned out insufferable on numerous levels.

There are other characters on the show, too. Beckett's team involves guys like Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas), a former Army Special Forces sniper, and Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever), a former Narcotics detective. Those two characters are partners to Castle and Beckett, and while they have the leads' backs, they also like to tease the two of them and argue about trivial little facts. They like to bait Castle into their arguments, and Castle is frequently more than happy to humor the two of them. Castle's mother Martha (Susan Sullivan) and daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) tend to have little side plots in any given episode. Martha is a Broadway actress with a flair for dramatization, and Alexis is extremely bright and responsible for a girl her age. Watching the Castle family is always good for a few laughs, and it leaves no question as to why Castle himself can be so gregarious and charming.

I mentioned above that Castle is a Murder of the Weeks show, so you probably already know what that entails. Someone dies before Kate Beckett can make it into work that day, and before you can say "nine one one" she's on her cell phone with Castle, telling him to get his ass to the crime scene in wherever. They meet the body, start with a trail of leads, interrogate suspects - all of whom are initially accused of the murder - a few suspects lie, Castle and Beckett piece together little clues, and eventually everything comes together and points the finger at one final person…. Who turns out to not be the murderer. Afterward, one of them thinks back to an offhand connection using a piece of information which is completely out of left field, and with that, the two of them totally nail the real killer!

There's not a whole lot of deviation on that theme, not even in the canon-changing episodes. In other words, we're talking about a show here that really doesn't make a whole lot in the way of substance. There are times, however, when substance just isn't everything, so instead of that, there are a few other key factors jumping in to make what otherwise would have been a forgettable show which ran maybe six episodes into a wondrous pleasure which is now running six seasons. First of all, there's the writing. The dialogue in any given episode will make the premise, no matter how bad or ridiculous, worth watching. The crisp exchanges between Castle, Beckett, Esposito, and Ryan give the show a bit of a sense of savvy genre-awareness suggestive of the fact that they know how ridiculous they sound, but are having the time of their lives saying it. Then there's Susan Sullivan, who steals every scene she's in by playing Martha with a flair for the faux-melodramatic. Also, the show never made its fans wait too long on the obvious sexual tension between Castle and Beckett.

Also, there are Easter Eggs. Lord, are there ever Easter Eggs. Watching just a few episodes of Castle, one gets the impression that this show isn't just catering to sci-fi geeks, but being written by them as well. Little references to sci-fi shows can be found here and there, but since Nathan Fillion is on the show, the writers have a particular soft spot for Firefly. Little references to the Joss Whedon cult classic are peppered everywhere for those who know where they are. They range from the obvious (Adam Baldwin guest starring in an episode; Castle's suspiciously familiar "space cowboy" Halloween costume) to the obscure (Castle's apparent favor for brown sport jackets; "I was aiming for his head!,"; Castle learning Mandarin from "a TV show I used to love") and many others. In one episode, a man from a vampire coven is killed. In others, Castle and Beckett have to visit a sci-fi convention and a steampunk party. Good Firefly reference compilations can be found on Youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7TIjFpq_-E

The final twists of the Murder of the Week aren't quite as obvious as they would seem on a show like this, since they always seem to be triggered by something obscure one of the characters just happened to run into or remember. In one episode, the final big twist happened simply because Castle explained his concern over the fact that, if he were writing what was going on, he wouldn't have written it in the way it was happening. I'm willing to forgive the cop-outs a lot of the time, though, because Castle is meant to have a sense of fun. If this was just another Law and Order or CSI edition, Castle could very easily have been lost in the shuffle, but its lighthearted attitude is what makes it stand out. Castle doesn't come off as being as much about crime solving as it is about the absurd idea of a mystery writer helping the Police solve crimes. It's not meant to take itself seriously.

Getting lost in trying to solve the case yourself robs you of what this show is really about: The relationship between Castle and Beckett, and its development. The crime is on the backburner. The reason to watch Castle is because of its two brilliant leads - arguably the two best actors on TV for the time being - who are doing more than anyone else involved with the show to make it enjoyable. And it isn't like the writers and other cast members are slacking themselves. I'm not sure if Castle is going to be as beloved Hill Street Blues, as long-running as Law and Order, or as important as NYPD Blue, but damn, it's a lot of fun. That's what counts.

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August 02, 2013
saw some episodes of this show, and I cannot make a good call yet as to how I feel about it. I did quit watching the Walking Dead though...
 
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More Castle (TV show) reviews
Quick Tip by . September 16, 2010
Very good show, great acting and I like the two main chars
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
This is most fantastic. I'm trying to get all of my friends to watch it.
review by . May 10, 2009
I absolutely love ABC's new dramedy series "Castle."  I originally tuned into the pilot because I am a huge Nathan Fillion (aka Richard Castle) fan but was quickly drawn into the show for more than just him.  The father-daughter relationship between Nathon Fillion's character and his daughter is beautiful and the chemistry is great between Castle and NY Detective Kate Beckett.  This show has me laughing hysterically one minute to having goose bumps the next.  A must watch!
review by . May 18, 2009
Castle
Most crime dramas on television these days take themselves way to seriously.  Most of them deal with murder, sexual harassment, theft.  These are shows like Law & Order, CSI, Southland and so on.  You can't laugh at these shows really, but Castle takes a pages out of Bones book and shows television audiences that you can have a crime drama and have fun with it at the same time.  Nathan Fillion is the perfect actor for the role of Richard Castle and he is equally complimented …
About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston ()
Ranked #19
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this tv show

Wiki

Wildly famous mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is bored with his own success. Then he learns that a real-world copycat killer has started staging murder scenes depicted in his novels. Castle is questioned by NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), a bright and aggressive detective who keeps her investigations under tight rein. Though they instantly clash, sparks of another sort also begin to fly, leading both to danger and a hint of romance as Castle steps in to help find the killer. And once that case is solved, he and Beckett build on their new relationship as they look to solve more strange homicides in New York - as much fun as one can have with death and murder.

Castle is kept grounded by his Broadway diva mother, Martha Rodgers (Susan Sullivan), and quick-witted teenage daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn). Also starring in the series are Ruben Santiago-Hudson as NYPD Captain Roy Montgomery, Tamala Jones as Medical Examiner Lanie Parish, Jon Huertas as NYPD Detective Javier Esposito and Seamus Dever as NYPD Detective Kevin Ryan.

Castle is produced by ABC Studios. Andrew Marlowe (writer, Air Force One) serves as executive producer/writer, along with executive producers Armyan Bernstein, Barry Schindel, Rob Bowman (who also directed the pilot) and Laurie Zaks.
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Details

Premiere Date: March 9th 2009
Description: ABC comedy crime drama that followes acclaimed writer Richard Castle and NYPD Detective Kate Beckett
Genre: Crime Drama
Studio: American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
Original Air Date: March 9th 2009
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