Castle, Season One (2008)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Castle and Beckett

Promotional spots for this evening sitcom “sold” me this ABC crime dramedy. While it may be a bit out-of-the-ordinary of something I’d normally watch, I couldn’t help but become interested. So, after some reading and the release, I was excited to finally have the chance to watch this.
A woman has just been murdered. Only the circumstances aren’t under “normal” conditions. The killer left the victim nude blanketed in rose petals with sunflowers covering her eyes.

NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) doesn’t think this was a crime of passion: the victim knew her killer. The most interesting thing is the scene, which greatly resembles a scene straight out of mystery novelist Rick Castle’s book. Castle (Nathan Fillion) has climbed to the top of the bestseller lists, only his final book has killed off his lead hero and ever since, he’s struggled to write. This is something his publisher and ex-wife (one and the same person) is pressuring him to remedy. It just so happens that Kate is an ardent fan of Castle’s, a secret she tries to keep in check when she drags him out of a posh party for an hour or two of questioning.

Unfortunately for Kate, she’s stuck with the curious Castle when he’s assigned to her for the duration of the case. Eventually, the “team” of Castle and Beckett prevail, which relieves Kate, who now no longer has a curious citizen tagging along. Unfortunately for Kate, she has become Castle’s latest inspiration and becomes lucky enough to be his latest character inspiration: the fun is just beginning.

Said to be a mix of Murder, She Wrote and the sitcom Moonlighting (this does resemble both, for different reasons), initially aside from a good time, I didn’t think this anything particularly unique. That said, there is something about it that makes it irresistibly charming. By the finale (and making-of feature), I was convinced this was a REALLY fantastic show. No doubt this is greatly due to the characters, who while not very complex are still an interesting study. Kate has had a painful past and while, we automatically assume (especially after meeting him), Castle is an idle playboy, the more viewers see of his private life, the more you grow to like his character. Being a single father really took the “edge” of his character and regardless of misgivings, he is an awesome dad. The scenes between him and daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn), are precious albeit far too rare; scenes of them sliding down the hall floor or talking late into the evening are special and well filmed. The relationship that screenwriters developed between them are based on respect and genuine love, as is portrayed throughout the show and Alexis isn’t disrespectful towards her father as is so often depicted in teenage characters.
Castle and Alexis
While not being as funny as I’d assumed, humor does play a significant role in Castle, without ever becoming “slapstick.” Just one hilarious instance involves Castle sneaking along with the team while acting on a tip wearing a bullet-proof vest that proclaims his occupation (trust me; it is one of those scenes that demands laughter). Moments of serious conversations and hilarity ultimately lead to tense crime situations. The casting is perfection. Both Stana and Nathan play their parts convincingly well, while newcomer Molly Quinn is the scene-stealer. Kate and Castle’s interaction is brimming with sparks, but their “dislike” of the other is just as obvious; each eventually sees the attributes in one another forging an easy-going friendship-like relationship that is constantly at “odds” in a will-they-or-won’t-they crackle of tension. Kate intrigues Castle because he can’t quite crack what’s driving her. Throughout the series their “partnership” is often the brunt of many barbs and much of the series is based off that. Castle’s brilliant observations and sudden epiphanies were darn entertaining – those scenes when he breaks a suspect’s role in the crime or alibi, made for laugh-out-loud comedy that if missing, would have made an otherwise dull show.
As the ten-episode arc gets further into the season, it ultimately does become a stronger show without the array of cleverness from other shows of its genre. Still despite its unrealistic premise, it remained a clever, engaging show that ended far too quickly with a shocking cliff-hanger (fortunately anyone just starting the show can immediately pick up season two). Promotion seemed decent for this series and the opening title is particularly cute (using a quill pen). Filmmaking is notably modern with some far-out architect shots.
Castle is simply a fun forty plus minutes that offers mystery interspersed with fantastic comedy. The crimes are clever, the characters interesting enough to keep one curious and I enjoyed what they each brought to solving the murders. If you don’t mind overlooking misguided morals, this is one modern sitcom I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. 
CONTENT: sexual references and/or innuendo, and problematic language play the greatest issue. “Nanny McDead” uncovers two nannies that were having affairs with their respective employers. “Hell Hath No Fury” involves a high paid prostitute. “Always Buy Retail” opens with Castle and his wife having a brief tryst. Victims die in a variety of ways; some are shot, another bashed in the head and stuffed into a dryer, while another has numerous bones broken to fit into a safe. A mentally unwell woman thinks of committing suicide and cuts a knife into her thigh. One episode [“Always Buy Retail”] deals with voodoo ceremonies. Some episodes imply drugs and extra-marital affairs. Drinking is also a part of the show at various different times including Castle urging his teenage daughter to do so.


  1. Was it this season where Castle made the vest that said "writer" on it? I cracked up hilariously. He is such a funny guy!

    I do love when there are mysteries and layers to the characters....there is so much more to be resolved!

  2. I am not sure if that scene occurs in S1 or S2... can you tell how funny I thought it was!? LOL!

    Shows like to tease us and contiue to drop "bombshells," but until "Castle" gets cancelled - and maybe not even then, I have doubts that anything will ever really be resolved (the very nerve of TV writers!). =)

  3. Rissi,
    Would you say the level of objectionable content on Castle is overall comparable to...maybe Bones? Or would that not be a good comparison?

    I'm looking for a new show or two, and Castle has always sounded intriguing but I've never actually tried it. Bones is one of my favorites right now (I'm in the 4th season), it obviously does have problematic issues but for the most part I can deal with it. (I've skipped 2 or 3 episodes thanks to your reviews at Charity's, they were such a huge help, I'm sad they aren't online anymore...)

    Anyway, it looks like the shows you and I have in common are Bones, Merlin, White Collar, and NCIS, but I'm guessing the content levels on Castle are probably closest to Bones...please correct me if this isn't a fair comparison.

    Thank you so much for your reviews!! There are so few places that offer full-season content insight on TV series, and I just appreciate it so so much!!!

  4. I'd say that is an accurate comparison, Valerie. I think it really wavers in this show whereas Bones is usually very consistent. Castle isn't always riddled with so much medically-correct terms like the former show is (which is due to Bones medical background).

    I actually prefer reviewing shows as full seasons. Maybe it is because that is the only way I was "taught" but it seems to work best for me. It may take me longer to get done because I have to get through 20-some episodes first but in the end I think it is worth it.

    Actually Ella reviewed Bones at Charity's but I do have seasons 1-6 posted here - should you ever need them for reference. That show is AWESOME - I loved how S6 ended even if it was... "wrong." :-) Charity is doing some different things because she was unhappy with her site so you won't find television shows there anymore. :/ It is one of the reasons I am trying to build up my collection of reviews so much! (There are a lot of new DVD sets coming this fall that I will be reviewing.)

    If you like Bones and NCIS, I think you would like this one. And anything USA Network (i.e., White Collar) is usually brilliance.

    So glad you stopped in! Thank you for reading - I appreciate knowing that readers like you find these reviews helpful.

  5. Thanks for getting back to me, Rissi! I think I may give Castle a try in the next week or so. I have a feeling I'll end up liking it.

    Oops, I didn't realize that Ella was the reviewer for Bones over at Charity's. Thanks for clearing that up... I'll have to go check out her blog as well. I'm always on the hunt for people to follow who do reviews!!

    I'll definitely be keeping an eye on your blog in anticipation of new reviews. Thank you again for your willingness to review things, it is so very appreciated!!

  6. Oooh! Great, Valerie! I hope you enjoy these. :-)

    Yes, Ella does review movies but she has a little bit of everything on her blog - and it is always great. :-)

    Thank you for reading - I appreciate it and hope you continue to find helpful, informative reviews here, as is always my goal. Thanks again, Valerie.

  7. Sooo, Rissi, I watched the first 4 episodes . . .

    So far I'm really liking it (and I think my Mom is, which is important since she is my movie watcher buddy). It is like a nice blend of "who dunnit" from Law and Order, but a happy-go-lucky comedy at the same time. Somehow they mix well, and I think I'll be watching more.

    It seems to be hard for me to find television shows I like, but when I do, it is lovely. There is this comfort of having the same characters episode after episode (as opposed to a 2 hour film) and a formula for watching them interact together.

    Thanks for the heads up! I know I must be really behind, Beckett's hair is pretty short compared to what I see on TV and your blog. Ah, well, means I've got LOTS to enjoy before I catch up. We don't have cable or anything, so most of my TV watching is from the library or Netflix, which means I watch seasons at at time. :)

    Cheers to you!

    1. YAY! So glad you are watching this now, Camille...

      Surprisingly much as I love crime dramas, L&O isn't one I've tackled. (Not that I need to add another show.) The comedy is one of the best aspects of Castle - and it balances that well against the drama. It does tend more towards the serious side of things at some point.

      Ironically, each season Kate's (Beckett) hair gets a little bit longer. I think it was season 3 (?) that I liked it best. It was just at or past shoulder length and I thought Stana looked perfectly adorable. :)

      My mom and I love week-to-week shows; watching and enjoying the same characters. Seeing their struggles, flaws and triumphs whereas my dad gets tired of it after a while - he has to really like a show to be actively engaged in it. Like you, my mom is also who I watch most everything with (it's fun to chat about whatever we've watched then) and she loves this one probably more than I do.

      Enjoy the progression of Castle - it only gets better IMO. My family has never watched shows on TV either (save for an episode here or there) so we also watch the sets. I laugh because it means we're an entire year behind but its what we prefer. Who needs commercials anyway? :)


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