The first season of the crime-tastic comedy-drama Castle ended last night, with Ch5 burning off the final two episodes as a double-bill. For those who don’t know, the series follows a rich-and-famous mystery novelist named ‘Richard Castle’, who convinces his poker-buddy the Mayor to let him shadow a rather fetching and feisty homicide detective named ‘Kate Beckett’, as research for a new novel. At first she resents him as an unnecessary disruption and distraction, but inevitably warms to the dashingly handsome, seductive and insightful author as the season progresses. Hurrah! Obviously “procedural” shows can be, by their very nature, rather repetitive and formulaic, and many of the crime-of-the-week stories in this show play out in an achingly predictable way (i.e., if Beckett orders Castle not to leave the car, he will either follow along anyway and help catch the criminal, or he’ll sit tight and the criminal will conveniently run past the car so he can help catch them there instead)… but what sets Castle apart is the endearing characters, the palpable chemistry between cast members, and the quality of the comic banter. To my mind, it’s basically a solid sitcom, padded out with the odd murder or two… and while it lacks the quirky philosophical underpinnings of Life, and the uncut awesomeness of Columbo, it’s still a perfectly pleasant way to pass an hour in the evenings.
The eponymous protag is played by Nathan Fillion, of Buffy and Firefly fame… and he really is a ridiculously charismatic man, with the enviable ability to play a brash-but-loveable smoothie, and let the requisite “heart of gold” shine through all that posturing and postulating. His bemused partner in law, Det. Beckett, is played by Stana Katic… who is also extremely good at subtly revealing the vulnerability and sadness beneath her character’s no-nonsense professional persona… exploring both her “feminine” and “masculine” sides, as it were. I first noticed Katic playing a much perkier and flirtier cop named ‘Morgenstern’, in Frank Miller’s The Spirit movie (which I thought was actually a lot of fun in a hyper-stylised, nonsensical sort of way). According to this interview, she originally auditioned for the Gemma Arterton role in Quantum of Solace, but eventually ended up playing ‘Corrine Veneau’ instead (she’s the Canadian agent that Bond “rescues” in the epilogue). Beckett’s best/only friend, ‘Dr. Lanie Parish’, is the remarkably upbeat medical examiner who accompanies them to every crime scene… and she’s played by Tamala Jones, of Booty Call fame.
Keeping Castle in check at home are his wise-beyond-her-years teenage daughter, ‘Alexis’, and his puckish mother ‘Martha’. Alexis is played by Molly C. Quinn, and her scenes with Fillion are almost always adorable, even if they’re just playing laser-tag, or chatting about a grisly case… there’s so much love between them, that it adds a lot of depth to his character, and really takes the edge off the whole “millionaire playboy” thing (which I might have found quite irksome otherwise). Castle isn’t just a dilettante dabbling in crime-solving… he’s also a concerned father, looking out for his own family, and his fellow New Yorkers. Bless. Quinn doesn’t have many other major credits to her name, but she did have a minor role in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, so that’s pretty cool. Meanwhile, Martha is played by Susan Sullivan, of Dharma & Greg fame. As I’ve said before, I used to really enjoy that show, back in the day… but apparently it isn’t popular enough to warrant a full DVD release, so I guess I’m in a very small minority on that one? At first I found her character here a bit annoying, as if she were only there to waft through scenes oblivious to her son’s feelings and concerns, but pretty soon she started showing more of a genuine interest in his cases and his domestic worries, and consequently she became far more sympathetic. Monet Mazur has a minor recurring role as ‘Gina Cowell’, Castle’s publisher and second ex-wife… and also appeared in Monster-in-Law, playing a character so stupid and vindictive, I couldn’t even be bothered mentioning her in my previous post.
Fun fact: The penultimate instalment featured a cameo by Judy Reyes, as the distraught mother of a kidnapped daughter, and the episode was titled “Little Girl Lost”… presumably in reference to her TV-movie of the same name! It didn’t end quite the same way though…