Sunday, May 12, 2013

TV Show Review: Castle - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters and decent mysteries
Cons: Mysteries can be formulaic; forced romantic moments
The Bottom Line:
Light mystery show
Banter between characters
Proves plenty of fun




Quips and Clues

I wasn't exactly looking for a new show when Castle premiered on ABC.  But the previews for it made it look like fun.  Beside, it was a mystery show.  I had to give it a chance, so I tuned in to season one.  The result is I am hooked on this fun combination of best selling mystery sense and good old fashion quips.

Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is a best selling author who has just killed off his meal ticket.  While he struggles with writer's block creating a new lead, someone starts using his books as the basis of a series of grisly murders.  When he's called in to consult on the case, he meets NY homicide detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic).  Beckett is less than impressed with the always joking Castle, but the two do make a decent team tracking down the killer.

Beckett also sparks Castle.  In an effort to see her more often, Castle bases his new character on her.  Now he's a regular consultant with the police department, riding along with Beckett and helping her solve crimes.  Will the pairing work out?

Now, if I am being honest, I'll have to confess that these mysteries aren't the strongest.  They often feel formulaic.  In fact, Castle often spends time thinking about how he would plot the crime for one of his best sellers.  And that is what they feel like, the work of a best selling author attempting to keep his works from straying too much from the formula to keep the audience buying them.  If you like the formula, that will keep you coming back.  And it pretty much works here.  There will be one or two twists per week that catch me off guard, but for the most part, I've zeroed in on the killer around half way through the hour.  Nothing wrong with that, however, if you are having fun.

And I do have fun every minute this show is on.  Castle and Beckett have developed into interesting characters.  Yes, they are the stereotype of the rich playboy and the hard nosed female cop, but we are beginning to see more layers to them.  And when the two share the screen, there are some fun quips.  There's one or two laughs per episode and several grins along the way.

The supporting police characters are little more than faces we see each week at this point.  There are several of them, and they haven't really spent enough time on screen to differentiate themselves to me.  That's not true of the other supporting characters.  Castle lives with his teenage daughter Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) and mother Martha (Susan Sullivan).  Martha is an actress, and everything she does is over the top.  She's lots of fun.  Alexis is the only one is the Castle family who has a solid head on her shoulders.  But her scenes with her father are very sweet, a nice contrast at times to the plot of the show.  Honestly, these characters (but especially Alexis) have done much to make Castle into a real character for me and softened his playboy edge.

The acting is all top notch here.  Any problem I have with the characters is purely based on the lack of development time they've had.  And I think everyone is having fun on this show, which come through for the audience.  Watch for cameos by best selling authors James Patterson and Steven J. Cannell, and in the premier.

My only real complaint in the acting/character department is the supposed chemistry between Castle and Beckett.  I know from reading articles about the show that the producers intend for these two to become romantic foils at some point.  At least as of right now, I just don't see it.  They have chemistry, but it is more like brother/sister than romantic.  The few moments hinting at romance have seem forced to me.  Depending on how the writers develop things, I could see it working, but as it stands now, I don't see it.  Again, that's a minor issue.

Since this was a mid-season replacement show, season one only consists of 10 episodes.  As a result, the set contains three discs, presenting the episodes in wide screen and 5.1 surround sound.  The set also contains some extras, including bloopers, audio commentaries, and three behind the creation of the show type featurettes.

Yes, the show has some flaws.  But I have such a good time watching season one every week, I don't really mind.  The ratings haven't been great, so I'm hoping things pick up for the second season.  I want many more seasons of Castle to enjoy.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Flowers for Your Grave
2. Nanny McDead
3. Hedge Fund Homeboys
4. Hell Hath No Fury
5. A Chill Goes Through Her Veins
6. Always Buy Retail
7. Home is Where the Heart Stops
8. Ghosts
9. Little Girl Lost
10. A Death in the Family

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