“There’s always a story. You just have to find it.”
What happens when you’re a popular murder-mystery writer and someone starts to use your stories and ideas to kill people in the real world? At first you become the prime suspect, particularly if you’re found to be completely self-centered and annoyingly arrogant. That’s where a pretty good alibi might come in handy. Is playing poker with the Mayor and the Chief of Police good enough? So, you’re no longer a suspect. Now what do you do? You sign on as a consultant for the special crimes squad of the police department, and you help catch the real killer. Only instead of looking for him O.J. style on golf courses and in steakhouses, you team up with the cops and nab that good-for-nothing plagiarist. The problem with that is you might just find that you like it. Even worse, it might end up curing that writer’s block you got after killing off your lead character and proverbial golden goose, much to the chagrin of your publisher who also happens to be your ex-wife. Follow any of that? If you did, you now have the setup for one of the better premiere series from last season, Castle.
Rick Castle (Fillion) is a very successful mystery pulp-fiction writer with over 26 books hitting the best seller list. He’s rich, and he’s spoiled. He lives with his mother (Sullivan) who is pretty much a has-been actress who thinks she’s just one part away from stardom. He has a young teen daughter (Quinn) who is more responsible than he is. She pushes away the sweets he serves for vegetables and grounds herself when she jumps a subway turnstile to get home. She’s definitely the adult in the family. After having so much fun and inspiration tracking down his fiction copycat killer, he decides to pull strings and become an unpaid consultant for the team. That’s not so good for team leader Detective Kate Beckett (Katic). While she might secretly find him a bit charming, she thinks he jeopardizes her cases. To her surprise and often irritation, he ends up providing valuable “out of the box” thinking and logic that more times than not leads to catching the bad guys. She is also secretly a fan whose life was literally saved once by his books. Of course, she’s not telling him any of that. The series has an interesting enough supporting cast, but make no mistake. These are the major players.
Nathan Fillion is one of those actors that are hard to pin down. He reminds me a lot of Bruce Campbell. He has a sudden disarming quality to him even if he is not always the most likable guy in the show. Most fans will remember him as the fearless and cocky captain of the Serenity in Joss Whedon’s short-lived but critically loved Firefly series. He has that kind of charming smile and way about him that gets him out of a lot of trouble and makes you wanna love him even as you hate him. And it is that love/hate relationship with Stana Katic that is the secret of this show’s quality and early success. For her own part, Katic is a marvelous actress who has only one thing going against her here. She looks and even sounds too much like Law & Order: SVU’s Mariska Hargitay. Katic is younger, but so was Hargitay when her show started. Too often Katic reminds me too much of, if not the actress, then the character from the other show. It doesn’t really matter though, because I promise you you’ll fall in love with these two characters and the show after only one episode.
Here are some highlights from the second year. As the season begins, Castle is not in very good with Beckett. She’s pretty steamed that he has begun to look into her mother’s murder. But, of course, cases will bring them back together once again. In the course of the season the two will work cases involving arctic explorers, dead models, the CIA, vampires, rock stars, a witness with amnesia, Irish mobsters, ex-Yankees manager Joe Torre, ancient Mayan curses, and a violent cooking show.
Each episode of Castle is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Even on DVD these newer shows are all starting to look, on the average, a lot better. With high-definition broadcasts and preparing for the Blu-ray market, the picture on these things is getting better. Colors and sharpness are all well above normal. But … you knew there had to be one. There’s still too much stuff on a disc. I continue to believe four episodes on a disc are too many. With discs themselves costing the industry almost nothing, I push for higher bit rates. Compression artifact, that’s the only enemy here, and it is nearly completely unnecessary.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is not really anything to write home about. This is a very dialog-heavy presentation, so you can expect everything to be front-loaded here. It’s all clean and clear.
On Set With Seamus and Jon: (7:39) The two actors give you an amusing tour of the sets of Castle.
On Location With Nathan: (6:50) The star introduces us to some of the key people on a location shoot. I really do like when the behind-the-camera folks get some attention and love. Good job.
Manhattan‘s Most Unusual Murders: (7:57) Cast and crew talk about the crazy crime scenes. There are some behind-the-scenes looks at making actors appear dead.
Misdemeanors, Bloopers, and Outtakes: (2:36) You know what you’ll find here, don’t you?
This was one of those refreshing character-driven shows from the year before last. There were only ten episodes in the first year, so it’s a real treat to finally get a full season. Nathan Fillion has really created an amusing and entertaining character here. The chemistry was already good. It only gets better. This is the kind of show that makes my job as much fun as everyone thinks it is. After all, “Every writer needs inspiration, and I’ve found mine”.