March 18, 2009

new show review: castle

Castle premiered Monday nights on ABC two weeks ago. I’ve only seen the first episode so far. I’m not hooked, but I'll give it a few more chances.

Here’s the cast: famous murder mystery novelist Richard Castle is played by Nathan Fillion who’s one of those guys who you know but don’t know how. He’s been in basically everything. Most recently, I liked him in the movie The Waitress. His costar is homicide detective Kate Beckett played by Stana Katic, who I don’t recognize but IMDB has her guesting on a bunch of shows. Supporting characters include Susan Sullivan and Castle’s mom channeling a drunk Mona Bower and Molly Quinn as his witty teenage daughter. There are also some supporting characters at the police department who haven’t really made an impression yet.

The film is very rich with saturated colors (does it sound like I know what I’m talking about? I don’t.) The music is just a typical crime drama track.
The pilot starts with a killer who is copying the murders written in Castle’s books, and a bored Castle with writer’s block volunteers to help solve the case in hopes of getting a story out of it. In the end, he decides Kate should be the inspiration for his new main character, and he signs on to make this a regular gig for “research”.

Katic’s Kate Beckett is a little flat, but she’s also playing a straight homicide detective, so I will cut her some slack for now. Fillion’s Castle is a little tough to diagnose. He’s arrogant and handsome, and fancies himself an expert on people and all things murder. He tries to analyze Kate’s psyche and motivation for working in this field – something like House, but more caring. The inevitable sexual tension is based on her pretending to hate him and him loving to annoy her.

One of my favorite parts of the pilot is a scene with Castle playing a poker game with a two older men and a woman who are fellow writers. They give him advice about writing the story (solving the case). I like the dynamic of the group, so I hope they make it a regular thing.

Bottom line: I’ve said this before – I expect a lot from a pilot. I want it to blow me away, and this one didn’t do that. I was looking for this show to distinguish itself from the myriad of other crime shows. In theory, it does with Castle solving the cases as though he’s writing the story himself. In practice, I worry that it’s just a typical crime drama with some extra dialogue. A lot will depend on how they choose to develop these characters. We’ll see how it goes.


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