Click Here!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 simple to guess plot twists. Still, the chemistry between the leads was definitely there and with a lackluster first season under its belt, the series returned for what ended up being…well, more of the same. With the third season already underway, can anyone still truly enjoy the show…or are we all just hanging on because of Fillion’s wit and charm?

Castle and Beckett’s unconventional partnership and banter creates humorous situations and romantic tension unlike anything on TV. During this past season, Castle and Beckett’s relationship has grown stronger as they’ve dodged bullets, captured killers, and solved countless murder cases in their unorthodox partnership. But by the Season Two finale, Beckett’s new relationship with a robbery detective has pushed Castle away, forcing them both to confront their feelings for one another. When Castle leaves to finish writing his second Nikki Heat novel, Naked Heat, Beckett has to watch him walk away, unable to express her true feelings and unsure whether he will return to the precinct.

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 third season). Granted the rest of the cast was interesting at times 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. This same idea carried through from the first season and into the second season. It’s certainly an entertaining trip through those twenty four episodes of witty banter and mildly interesting murders and whatnot, but the formula did get old about halfway through the season. Thankfully something happened to the writers for the last half of the season, because it became almost an entirely different show with the genuinely interesting murder cases and whatnot that cropped up. Although the Castle/Beckett romantic thing they insisted on shoving down our throats wasn’t resolved and we’re still stuck with it for this third season…I just hope they get away from it entirely or just push forward with it and get Beckett out of the mopey state.

In any case this second season definitely had quite a few memorable moments, especially that Firefly tribute for the Halloween episode. Not only was it probably the coolest opening to the show ever, but I didn’t know it was coming and it was a complete surprise to me as a result. A very, very cool little nugget for Fillion fans…truthfully, that little “bonus” (and the resulting dialogue that came as a result of it) is what kept me watching the show again, in hopes we’d get something similar. Or at least a guest appearance by another Firefly alumni. It could happen, right? Please! How about a V and Castle crossover?

No matter which way you cut it this second season had a mixed collection of episodes. The vast majority of these twenty-four episodes you’ll never want to watch again, but there are some real winners here as well. But for every great Fillion moment there are horrendous Beckett ones, like where she goes “undercover” as a Russian with the absolute worst accent ever. Terrible!

Overall a season worth a Rental for the curious.

ABC has pushed out Castle’s second season in a standard five-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.

Extras include:

• On Set With Seamus & Jon — Go Behind The Scenes With Cast’s Resident Comedians, Seamus Dever And Jon Huertas, As They Reveal Secrets Of The Set
• On Location With Nathan — Nathan Fillion Introduces Us To Some Of His Favorite Crew Members And Demonstrates Some Interesting Tricks Of The Trade
• Manhattan‘s Most Unusual Murders — Discover How The Production Team Stages Murders Using Research, Props And Special Effects With Inside Stories From The Producers, Actors And Set Designers
• Deleted Scenes
• Misdemeanors: Bloopers & Outtakes

Considering how these ABC sets usually go, I’m not terribly surprised that we lose a decent clump of extras. We gain some worthwhile featurettes, but there are zero commentaries on this set (as opposed to the four for season one’s ten episodes, we get zero commentaries for season two’s crop of twenty four?) so the time you spend on the extras has greatly diminished. Then again the discs are pretty packed with episodes already, so it’s not too surprising we didn’t get a sixth disc dedicated to extras.

Overall a set worth a Rental.

Castle – The Complete Second Season is now available on DVD.