Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Castle" - Season Premiere Recap

Of all the returning shows, ABC's "Castle" with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, was the one to which I most looked forward. It was the one my wife and I watched live (while taping CSI: Miami; watched that one at 10pm CST, and that one was quite good, too). For my money, last night's season premiere didn't disappoint.

"Deep in Death" picks up the story of Richard Castle (Fillion) at an indeterminate amount of time since last season's finale. Castle is holding a photo shoot in the NY police station and an annoying fangirl of a reporter interviews Katic's Detective Beckett about Castle's invaluable contribution to solving cases. Beckett, of course, rolls her eyes, but is put back in line by her CO, who wants all the good press the NYPD can get.

Cut to the murder-of-the-week: a dead man in a tree with signs of strangulation. Beckett and Castle both offer potential reasons and motive before Beckett all but orders Castle back to the morgue with the body. Halfway there, the ambulance is attacked and masked men steal the body. A clearly shaken Castle utters one of his patented one-liners and we're off.

What follows is an hour of television that is flat-out fun. I found myself chuckling a lot at the two supporting detectives (Javier and Kevin), especially when you see them exchanging money and laying odds on when Beckett will forgive Castle. The murder-mystery is more interesting than those cases from season one, clearly riffing off our current economic uncertainty: an unemployed man goes to desperate measures to maintain the fiction of his life. It's almost plausible...to a certain point. Having cameos by Stephen J. Cannell and Michael Connelly is just icing on the cake. The relationship Castle has with his daughter and mother is almost enough to spin off on the Family Channel. And Castle's quip about Hollywood making a movie based on the Asteroids video game wins my Best Quip Award of the evening.

“Well, they just optioned Asteroid the video game, so my guess is yes. But Ryan Reynolds is playing the wee triangle [here, Fillion holds up his hands in a triangle shape], and he’s good.”

A write-up like mine can't do justice to the chemistry Fillion and Katic have on screen. Their witty banter, flying at light speed, brings to mind Moonlighting and (from what I've heard; never watched it) Bones. Fillion plays Castle as a man who knows he's charming and disarming, almost to a fault. Katic plays Beckett close to the vest, letting out little dribbles of back story per episode. More often than not, I'm watching this show with a big, goofy grin on my face. Ken Tucker, of Entertainment Weekly, once pronounced Castle was too cute by half. That may be so, but it's damn cute.

From more than one source (Gerald So's Twitter and the fan-based Castletv.net), it appears Castle beat The Jay Leno Show last night. Not bad, considering CSI: Miami is a ratings juggernaut. The thing I fear most is that Castle stays in this time slot and gets slaughtered by CSI: Miami, which is pretty much going to happen every week. If the ABC execs start thinking about cancelling this fun show, I sure hope they consider changing the time slot rather than cancellation. That's my plea.

I don't think that cancellation is likely in the near term, ,however. ABC commissioned a real Richard Castle book. In the show, Castle is promoting Heat Wave, the story inspired by Beckett, and featuring NY detective Nikki Heat. Well, you can actually go and purchase Heat Wave at your nearest bookstore. If you want to read a few chapters, head on over to the Castle page at ABC.com. It's a neat synergy. Speaking of synergy, Central Crime Zone posts an interview with Richard Castle (yeah, for real). It's cool reading the Q&A and hearing Fillion's voice.

The cool thing for y'all who might have missed it last night, Castle is on Hulu. You can watch last night's episode, about five episodes from season 1, and various clips and interviews. Take a look.

And watch Castle, even if you have to tape/DVR it. Then, every Tuesday, you can check back here for my take on the previous night's episode. EW.com has added Castle as part of it's TV Recap series, written by Mandy Bierly. Then you can read Marc Bernardin's hilarious confession of a man crush on Fillion, complete with video.

Whew! Is that enough homework for y'all? Hope not. You'll enjoy it.


Leah J. Utas said...

Castle fan here. Crisp writing, good chemistry as you say. Of course, Capt. Mal can do no wrong in my world.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't believe I've ever even heard of this show until today when somebody else mentioned it on a blog.

Lysandwr said...

Oddly, considering my YEARS of sf fandom, I'd not seen Firefly. But tripped over Castle with the first show last (short) season, and loved it.

Your review of the season premiere is spot on, and I appreciate that you pulled it off without too much in the way of spoilers (maybe one too many--:)) while still conveying its snappy, fast-paced coolness. Here's hoping you rope in even more viewers, and keep reminding ABC to not be stupid with Castle's time slot.

Thanks again!

Randy Johnson said...

I did just the opposite, watching CSI: Miami live then the recorded Castle. I became a big fan of Castle the first season and I seem to remember at one point, it had been canceled(I may be wrong here; what do the politicians say: misremember).
I enjoy the poker scenes with real writers as well and wouldn't be averse to more.

The chemistry between Fillion and Katic works well(as does that on Bones: if you haven't seen any of those, you really should).

Castle has become a must see around here, something a bit different, fresher than so many of the cop shows still running(CSI could be retired, along with Law & Order).

Scott D. Parker said...

Leah - I am only 4 episodes into Firefly. Watching it on Hulu. My wife likes it, as well. Is Firefly not one of the best SF entry "drugs" out there? I don't know of any who has seen who didn't like it.

Charles - Take a look at the season 1 episodes on Hulu and the premiere. See what you think. I think it's worth it.

Lysandwr - Thanks for stopping by. Hmm, "one to many": I'll have to re-read the post to figure out what I spilled. I plan to write my recaps sooner than Tuesday afternoon so you should be able to check back next Tuesday morning.

Randy - Glad I'm the only crime fiction blogger out there who actually likes CSI: Miami. Yeah, it ain't The Wire but it's not supposed to be. It IS cheesy but I like it for the cheese. And I actually like Caruso, especially his stint on NYPD Blue. "Fresh" is the best word to describe "Castle."

pattinase (abbott) said...

A very cute show. I'd watch informercials before I watched Caruso so maybe it'll do okay.

Perplexio said...

My wife is not a fan of most police procedural type shows (she doesn't like NCIS, Criminal Minds, or any of the CSIs). I'm not exactly crazy about many of those either. The last police procedural type show we got into was Crossing Jordan.

The premise of Castle really didn't appeal to me when ABC started airing previews/teasers for the show before season 1 started. My wife watched it and I opted to watch something else-- I forget what. Towards the end of season 1 I started watching it with her and quite enjoyed it.

Luckily this season there are no conflicts. Heroes will be in an earlier time slot (thanks in part to the new Jay Leno show) so I forsee watching every episode.

Steve Weddle said...

I dug Firefly and thought the season two premiere of Castle was good.

I didn't think the leads showed much chemistry, but maybe they did in season one.

Tonight will just be the second episode I've seen, so I don't want to pass judgement on it yet.

Scott D. Parker said...

Patti - [chuckle on the infomercial comment] Give Castle a chance. You might be surprised.

Perplexio - Happy to hear there are no conflicts. You can tape CSI: Miami and read my recaps starting tomorrow.

Steve - Give the show time. There are some episodes on Hulu you can watch during your "free time."