Sunday, 21 September 2014

Castle, Season 1 (2009)

Nathan Fillion's first show after Firefly crashed even faster than the SF western had.  I therefore had doubts about Castle when it was announced.  Especially since the premise appeared to be "Murder, He Wrote".  I suspect, given that the show was a mid-season replacement with a mere 10 episode order, that I was not alone in these misgivings.

As it turned out, however, Fillion's time had finally come.  That he was able to be simultaneously infuriating and charming as wealthy mystery author and manchild Richard Castle would come as no surprise to anyone who saw Firefly.  Couple this with fun, quirky scripts and a strong ensemble cast and ... well, it wasn't enough to let Joss Whedon's show survive, but police procedurals are a far more accessible genre to the mainstream audience than "science fiction western".  Trading heavily on snappy dialogue and good chemistry between Fillion and co-lead Stana Katic, Castle quickly carved a niche for itself as the light dramedy cousin of Law & Order, CSI, and all those other franchises that have been slowly consuming the airwaves for the last couple of decades.

The premise behind the show is simple: tiring of his successful mystery franchise, author Richard Castle kills off the lead character just as a series of murders occur that bear an uncanny resemblance to his books.  This brings him into contact with NYPD detective Kate Beckett, whom he immediately decides will the muse for his new series.  There is, of course, no small amount of "phwoar she's hot" in his decision.

Castle is able to get away with tagging along as an 'observer' on Beckett's cases - much to her chagrin, at least initially - due to being personal friends with the mayor.  Of course, you'll not be surprised to learn that Castle soon shows a flair for solving murders.  Happily though, the show also makes the actual cops pretty good at their jobs too, so it's not just a retread of Angela Lansbury showing up Sheriff McStupid every week.

As noted above, this show's strengths are its snappy dialogue, the on-screen chemistry between Fillion and Katic (Castle and Beckett, of course), and the strong ensemble cast.  Castle's mother and daughter are an important part of the show, as are the other NYPD detectives in Beckett's team.  If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself wishing the show spent more time with these secondary figures.

Packed with quirky cases and dialogue, Castle is a fun TV show.  You should definitely check it out if you're looking for some light entertainment.

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