Friday, May 31, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Castle - Season 2

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun mysteries fill with good characters and great quips
Cons: A few sub-par episodes late in the second half
The Bottom Line:
Mysteries, humor
With some great main characters
Make for a great show

"I Hate This Case."  "I Know.  Isn't It Great?"

Most of the fun mystery shows are on the USA Network.  One of the rare ones on a traditional network is Castle, and season two was just as fun as the short first season.

The show revolves around bestselling mystery author Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion).  His latest blockbuster series is based on NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic).  Castle has pulled strings with the mayor's office and gotten permission to shadow her on the job.  Not only does he not get in the way, but he even offers some help with the bizarre cases she handles.

Just how bizarre are talking about?  Well, there's the man found tangled in a tree.  An Arctic explorer is killed while talking to students from his latest Arctic a New York apartment.  A man with vampire teeth is found in a graveyard with a stake through his heart.  A bike messenger and convict are both killed the same day.  A dead man is identified by both his wife and his fiancĂ©e.  And a TV host is killed after whispering to Castle "They want me dead."

While the cases are fun, we've also got romantic tension between Castle and Beckett.  While Castle has obvious had a crush on her for a while, Beckett is doing her best to resist him at every turn.  Throw in Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Ryan (Seamus Dever), the two detectives under Beckett and Castle's mother, actress Martha Rodgers (Susan Sullivan), and daughter Alexis (Molly C. Quinn), and you've got the elements that make this so much more than the police procedurals that most networks air.

And that's one reason I love this show so much.  Yes, you've got the police element to the show.  We regularly see the coroner.  But the emphasis isn't on the evidence and it finding the killer. Instead it's one interviewing the suspects and breaking alibies.  The cases are filled with twists and turns.  Okay, so half the time I see the twists coming from a ways away, but I still enjoy going along for the ride even if I have things figured out early.

It's the characters who really make this show.  Castle's arrogant playboy attitude is softened by his interaction with his mother and daughter.  Beckett lets her tough demeanor slip quite often, so we get a glimpse of a very vulnerable person beneath her exterior.  I've actually come to believe the romantic tension between the two this season as a result of how they've developed the characters, too.  While Martha can be over the top in a famous actress way at times, I still like her.  But its Alexis I really love.  She and Castle have a wonderful father/daughter relationship, and scenes with the two of them always warm my heart.  As much as I like them, I will confess to always getting Esposito and Ryan mixed up.  I can never remember from week to week who got what element of character development.  I'm sure it's just me as this isn't the first time I've had that kind of trouble with secondary characters.  Even so, I do enjoy their characters when they are on screen.

So I'm sure it will come as no surprise to say I like the acting as well.  Everyone from the leads to the guest stars bring their characters to life perfectly each week.

Plus there's the humor.  The characters are always teasing each other, and Beckett and Castle exchange some great one liners.  I laugh several times over the course of each episode.  And it's the humor that makes this show so much fun to watch in reruns even if you already know how the mystery ends.

As another measure of fun, the first Nikki Heat novel came out in real life the same time that it was released on the TV show.  They make constant references to the novel in the first half of the season, and those references are all true.  If you like the show, be sure to check the book out as well.

For the most part, they do a good job with continuity on the show.  The episodes pretty much stand on their own, with only the littlest of carry over.  They do start this season with Castle and Beckett dealing with the aftermath of Castle's interfering in Beckett's past.  And later in the season, they do half solve the case of Beckett's mother's murder.  However, there were a couple of dropped balls later in the season, right about the time that they did two or three episodes in a row that lost the fun spark.  Fortunately, things picked up on all fronts for the last few episodes of the season.

Season two consisted of 24 episodes, and they are all here on 5 discs in wide screen and full surround.  Extras include a few behind the scenes featurettes, one about how they stage the murders, plus deleted scenes and bloopers.

As much as I enjoy mysteries, I like my murder on the light side.  Castle certainly fits that bill perfectly.  It's got fun cases filled with quips.  If that sounds appealing to you, you'll find season two entertains from start to finish.

Season Two Episodes:
1. Deep in Death
2. The Double Down
3. Inventing the Girl
4. Fool Me Once...
5. When the Bough Breaks
6. Vampire Weekend
7. Famous Last Words
8. Kill the Messenger
9. Love Me Dead
10. One Man's Treasure
11. The Fifth Bullet
12. A Rose for Everafter
13. Sucker Punch
14. The Third Man
15. Suicide Squeeze
16. The Mistress Always Spanks Twice
17. Tick, Tick, Tick...
18. Boom!
19. Wrapped up in Death
20. The Late Shaft
21. Den of Thieves
22. Food to Die for
23. Overkill
24. A Deadly Game

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