A mid-season debut for ABC, Castle rode in with low hopes from all involved and…well, that’s really what it ended up delivering on. The late Monday-slotted crime dramedy starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic as a “mismatched crime-solving duo” didn’t really blow audiences away so much as mildly amused them each week with easily solvable crimes and easy to guess plot twists. Still, the chemistry between the leads was definitely there and as such ABC saw fit to renew the series for a second season. Will it last past that? If other recent ABC outings such as Eli Stone are any indication…then probably not.
A bestselling novelist (Nathan Fillion) and a New York City detective (Stana Katic) delve into real world crime, starting with a copycat killer who recreates the murder scenes depicted in his novels. Finding true life mysteries more stimulating than fiction, writer Richard Castle continues to offer his professional insights to Detective Kate Beckett—whether she wants them or not. Sparks fly and a hint of romance hangs in the air as these two strong personalities investigate some of the most puzzling crimes on the NYPD’s docket.
Personally I really enjoyed this series. It has a Bones-like mentality with the leads constantly flirting around with each other (although in Castle it’s a lot more in-your-face). But I’ll be honest…I really only started watching this series for Fillion. No matter what the man is in (even that horrendous Race series on Fox from a few years back…or whatever it was called), I’m always there to watch it. This is all due to Firefly of course, but also because he’s just such an entertaining actor all around. His characters never fail to entertain and even in questionable things like White Noise 2, he still manages to make the production worth watching just because he’s in it.
Ok, yeah, I have a man-crush on Fillion. But honestly this show is such a predictable mash-up with each story that he’s the only reason I kept coming back (and the only reason I’m going back again for the second season). Granted the rest of the cast was interesting as well, but aside from Fillion’s immediate family and Katic’s overall character, there just isn’t much to sink your teeth in. The supporting cops are forgettable and only there to pad or fill story time, so really there isn’t a whole lot of substance to this series. It doesn’t grip you like the usual thriller/cop show dramas do, simply because it feels like it’s old hat with a new feather stuck in its cap (the feather is Fillion, by the way).
Having said all of that…the series is still worth checking out. I think that even though it is overly simply in construction that works in its favors on occasion. You know what you’re going to get each week from both the story and the characters and as such it becomes a bit of a comfortable and reliable show that you can be sure to enjoy week in and week out. Of course with this first season being comprised of a scant ten episodes, it doesn’t exactly give you much to work with from the start. It’s certainly an entertaining trip through those four-hundred some minutes of witty banter and mildly interesting murders and whatnot, but the series can only still go in quite a few different directions when its second season pops up, so it should be interesting to continue watching it for that reason alone.
Oh who am I kidding. The show will probably continue on its predictable course, but still remain a lighthearted and entertaining that will get cancelled right as the writers figure out some cool story to tell with the cast. Yes, that was a bit jaded sounding…but hey. This is ABC we’re talking about. And Fillion. The chances of this one surviving past a second season are very, very slim.
But…enjoy it while it lasts, I say! This first season comes Recommended and as light and airy as it is, it won’t leave you weighted down with overly confusing stories or character twists and turns. Castle gives you enough to feel sated after a few episodes, but still manages to make you come back for more just to see what witty quips each week brings. Unless, of course, you happen to catch one of the on-air promos that airs before the episode airs and then you pretty much hear every single funny joke that it contains in a full minute-long preview. All right before the episode starts. Your logic is faulty, ABC—fix it!
ABC has pushed out Castle in a standard three-disc amaray single width pack. A glossy/embossed o-ring slips over the clear casing to aid in shelf blending, but aside from that the cardboard slip serves no purpose. A double sided jacket serves as the episode guide and disc information. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and despite watching this season originally in high-definition broadcast only, I was still impressed by the level of detail that this transfer brought to the table. Solid colors, nice detail and a hint of grain here and there help maintain the original look of this series as best as it can on a standard definition format. Audio is a DD5.1 mix and has all the familiar little gun shots and sound effects bouncing around the channels, but being a mostly dialogue driven show the series sits in the front channels for the most part.
• Misdemeanors: Bloopers & Outtakes (2:38)
• Whodunit: The Genesis of Castle –The show’s creators talk about the genesis
of Castle, including insights into how the great fictional detectives and mystery writers of the past have influenced the show. (6:15)
• Castle’s Godfather (7:16)
• Write Along with Nathan Fillion – Spend a day with Nathan Fillion as he shadows a real-life mystery writer. (9:05)
• Exclusive Commentaries on “Flowers For Your Grave,” “A Chill Goes Through Her Veins,” “A Death in the Family”
Considering how these ABC sets usually go, I expected a much weaker mixture of extras…but I was genuinely surprised. I could’ve gone for a longer blooper reel, but other than that I was pleasantly surprised by the other extras. Certainly not for the length…no, they’re all short little featurettes. But what sticks out are the four commentary tracks (the season finale, “A Death in the Family”, gets two different tracks), all of which are highly entertaining and an interesting listen.
Overall Castle is a really lighthearted and fun show to watch. An odd thing to say for a show in a 10pm Monday time slot…but hey. It’s a solid first season with a fair DVD representation, made better by the commentary tracks (without those this would’ve been the usual near-bare bones ABC releases [for all shows that don’t rhyme with Scrubs and Lost, I mean). Recommended.
Castle – The Complete First Season arrives on DVD on September 22nd.