Elementary, My Dear Castle!

Castle is a show that I have been watching since it first aired and I have enjoyed it more as each season unfolded. What began as a mid-season replacement in the spring of 2009 is now well established in its 4th season, Mondays at 10pm on ABC.

Time for disclosure, when I used to read books more voraciously (sadly no longer but that is a topic for another essay) I gravitated to mystery novels. As a kid I went from Enid Blyton’s Famous 5, to my much beloved Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, and from there to the novels of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I still love me a good whodunit. I delight in the rigorous process of deductive reasoning demonstrated in many of these works of fiction. Sadly, this style seems to have fallen out of favor in contemporary detective fiction. To complicate matters, I cannot abide fictional works that rely too much on forensic/lab stuff. This is probably a hazard of my work, but I know too much and cannot suspend disbelief at the necessary liberties required for the narrative flow of fiction. Hence, I really like Castle!

Castle is really “Murder, She Wrote” with a twist. Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is a very successful mystery writer. When the NYPD is trying to solve a murder that is following the plot of one of Castle’s novels a little too faithfully, he is asked to assist in solving the case. He proves to be of some use and his “assistance” becomes an ongoing gig much to the chagrin of Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Since Castle has just killed off his main detective, he is inspired by Kate to write about a female cop and must tag along to get the creative juices flowing, or so he claims. Since he also has friends in high places, Kate has very little choice in the matter. Castle soon becomes an unofficial part of the team.

If you can get past this somewhat ludicrous premise (I can), the characters grow on the viewer pretty quickly and the writing finds its stride quickly. Castle is a smart-aleck, but insightful. He proves himself as a valuable member of the investigative team soon enough. His character is nicely fleshed out by interactions with his mother and daughter, with whom he shares his amazing NYC apartment. Kate has her issues as well (mother’s unsolved murder) but she is clearly great and well respected at her job. With her colleagues, Esposito and Ryan, good old fashioned detective work is woven into some great whodunits that the viewer can jump into with no need to watch a whole season. Of course there is some Moonlighting or Bones type chemistry between the 2 leads but this is really secondary/tertiary to the main story line. In fact it serves to inject some light-hearted humor into some pretty imaginative and horrible homicides. This is a very low-tech show. There is not much time spent in the lab or the morgue (yay for me). The writers clearly have fun poking holes into the many clichés of detective fiction. It really is a well-crafted show. 

I am really happy that the ratings are strong for this network show that stars 2 very talented Canadians. Katic was new to me but I have been a Fillion fan ever since I watched the short-lived but long-missed TV series Firefly (2002) and its movie incarnation (Serenity, 2005).

It is about time that he landed a project that fits him so well. He had a false start as the series lead in a quickly canceled show called Drive, 2007 and his talents were underutilized as Dana Delany’s husband in Desperate Housewives (2007-2008). In fact, I was ready to ditch the housewives, as I had grown bored of it but held on for one last season, just because of him. I was rather relieved that he moved on because I don’t think I could have lasted another season.

So if you are looking for something new, with a bit of humor and humanity and you like cop shows that rely on deductive reasoning and good old fashioned clue gathering, you may want to try Castle. The fact that you have not watched the first 3 ½ seasons should not dissuade you. This is a show that you can jump into at any time.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 2011- 2012 TV Season Wrap Up – part 1 « What is Ann Watching?

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