Tuesday, September 25, 2012

TV – Castle Season 1

Castle debuted as a Spring replacement on ABC in March of 2009.  It only had time for a run of 10 episodes, but that was enough for ABC to see that it had something good.  They brought it back for a full 24 episode run the next Fall and that’s when the show really hit its stride.  It is now starting its fifth season.  It airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on ABC.

The premise is that a popular crime novelist ends up helping a New York City police detective solve murder cases.  At the same time he is using these experiences with her as the basis for a new series of crime novels starring a character based on her.  There’s much more to it than that, but that is the 50,000 foot view.

The show is a light drama with comedy elements in it.  The jokes come from the wit and interaction of the characters, not from unrealistic scenes or events.  Even though they deal with murder cases, for the most part they do not get as graphic as most other crime shows on TV, which seem to have a contest to see who can show the grossest ways to kill someone.  Castle even tosses in some jokes about how unrealistic most TV cop shows are.

The thing that makes the show so entertaining is the chemistry that the characters have with each other.

Season 1:

The pilot episode did a great job of establishing the characters and the premise for the show going forward.  Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) comes upon a murder scene where the victim is laid out in the same way as in one of the books by her favorite author Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion.)  As part of the investigation she brings him in to see if he knows anything about it.

We meet him at a party for the release of his latest book.  He is a very popular novelist, with no lack of female fans.  He’s single, rich, charming, and good looking.  He does have one major problem, though; he’s just killed off his popular Derrick Storm character in this latest book and he has writer’s block.  He can’t create anymore.

Beckett shows him the evidence and he recognizes the connection just like she did.  She also lets him know about a second murder that also was based on one of his books.  It’s then that he realizes she is a fan of his writing because only the most ardent fan read that obscure book of his.  She’s a little thrown, but she continues on.  He wants to stick around and learn more, but she sends him on his way.  When a third murder happens, also based on one of his books, she has no choice but to include him.  They have a serial killer on the loose.

Castle quickly shows that he is no dummy.  Years of researching crime have made him pretty good at picking up clues and understanding what they mean.  He also has a creative way of thinking that Detective Beckett can’t help but be swayed by from time to time.

Once the case is solved, Detective Beckett thinks that’s it.  He had been flirting with her all along, while she kept it professional and rebuffed him.  Now that the case is over and she figures he is out of her life for good, she flirts with him a little bit just to torture him like he had been doing to her.  Guess what?  Castle is good friends with the mayor and he convinces him to let Castle continue to accompany Detective Beckett on cases.  He realizes he has found the perfect person to base his next series of novels on – her.  She is not happy about it, especially when she learns the name of the character – Nikki Heat. 

The rest of the cast includes two male junior detectives that work for Beckett – Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever).  They have a great “buddy cop” vibe going.  There are also a medical examiner named Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) and the precinct Captain Roy Montgomery (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) who are recurring characters.  Other writers, real ones like James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Stephen J. Cannell, make cameos.  In Castle’s life he has his mother Martha (Susan Sullivan) and daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) living with him.  His mother is an aging “grand dame” of the Broadway theater district.  His daughter is in her mid-teens and is the most mature one of the three.

I want to take a little time to expand on this.  One of the things that makes the TV show Castle more than just another detective show is the relationship of Castle with his daughter.  He is a great dad and he has a strong relationship with her.  Most fathers are portrayed as idiots, abusers, emotionally absent, or anything else negative you can think of.  This show is one of the few that actually shows a positive father/daughter relationship and I would recommend the show on that alone.

As the season goes on Castle continues to crack jokes from time to time, but Beckett starts to get used to having him around.  There is, of course, an attraction between the two of them.  Beckett learns that Castle has some depth to him.  She is surprised that he is not cracking jokes on one case.  He responds, “I’m a wiseass, not a jackass.”  When she later sees his relationship with his daughter, that shows Beckett a whole new dimension to who this Richard Castle guy is.  He’s a lot more than this famous novelist she reads, and more than just the ladies man he came across as at the beginning.  In return Castle comes to respect and genuinely like Beckett and he wants to do something good for her.  He starts to independently research a cold case – the unsolved murder of her mother.

Chip’s Rating: Four stars out of five



  1. I just - and I mean JUST - discovered Castle. I watched seasons 1 and 2 in about a week at the end of August. I'm hankering for more. I'm avoiding your other reviews because I don't want stuff spoiled for me, but I really enjoyed the show. I now want to watch all the Castle all over again!!!

    I love that wiseass/jackass line.

    1. It is a very entertaining show, isn't it. I'm glad you like it.

    2. I *love* the quote about mystery writers and psychopaths! My daughter and I watched Season 1 of this show several years ago. We didn't fall in love with it -- for some reason the chemistry between these two characters didn't quite work for us. However, we did enjoy it and might give it another go. I agree with what you said about a positive portrayal of fatherhood being refreshing.

    3. @Stephanie Ward - If you have the opportunity I do recommend trying the second season. It was a step up from the first one. With only ten episodes the first season they were just getting to know the characters when they had to shut down. The second season you could tell everyone was more comfortable with who everyone was.

    4. That's good to know. Maybe I'll add it to my Netflix queue this week. :)