ABC and Disney have some rather entertaining television sets for that hard-to-please television addict on your shopping list. In recent years more and more of us engage in something called binge-watching. With either a DVR or the season sets releases, we watch an entire season of a show in a matter of a few days. I’ll bet you have a binge-watcher on that list of yours. You might want to consider some of the ABC family of shows.
Castle Season 6
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. 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. At first that wasn’t so good for team leader Detective Kate Beckett (Katic). Of course, now the whole sexual tension thing has been discarded, and they are an official couple these days. The team is also filled by a pair of detectives. Detective Javier Esposito is played by Jon Huertas and is the macho member of the team. Detective Kevin Ryan is played by Seamus Dever and is the more reserved member of the team, now trying to start a family. The team is led by the rough Captain Victoria Gates, played by Penny Johnson. She likes to think she’s in charge, but she’s not.
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 want to love him even as you hate him.
For the romantics in the crowd, the highlight of the season is watching the awkward romance between the two play out. It’s all there: The first Valentine’s Day, dinner with the parents, jealousy, and of course a lot of sleeping together. For some of us all of that merely serves as a distraction to the real reason we watch the show. It’s the cases, and the Castle/Beckett dynamic solving them that makes the show work on multiple levels. It’s also the show’s tendency toward odd cases that get Castle all fired up that usually end up a bit more mundane than originally advertised. It’s a good formula, because it’s not the solution that matters here. It’s the journey all the way.
The season begins by wrapping up the whole FBI job that Kate is considering at the end of the last season. Of course, we had the big proposal from Castle, and you can be sure that that wedding prep will dominate the personal stories for the sixth season. Fortunately, there are enough of the fun cases to go around, and for those of us who are not into all the wedding drama to retain our interest. Of course, the season ends with the prospect of the actual event, but I’m sure you know by now to expect some twists and turns along the way and the requisite cliffhanger to lead us into the current season. Fans of the show know the answers by now, but that shouldn’t stop you from keeping up to date in your Castle home theater collection.
Once Upon A Time Season 3 (Blu-ray)
“There is a town in Maine where every storybook character you’ve ever known is trapped between two worlds, victims of a powerful curse. Only one knows the truth, and only one can break her spell.”
ABC has had a very important asset going for it for years. It’s one that the network has seldom taken any advantage of. That asset is its parent company. You see, ABC is part of the Walt Disney family. With the rich history of stories the studio has in its arsenal going back to the 1920s, it was only a matter of time before some clever people decided to find a way to use that rich history in a television series. That time has arrived, and the result is Once Upon A Time. It’s the most clever and original series to hit the tube in a long time.
The cast is also quite good. Robert Carlyle steals every scene he is in. He also has the most diversity between his Storybrooke character and his fairyland character. Rumpelstiltskin is quite a prominent character here. Carlyle certainly gets to have the most fun as the flamboyant Rump and delivers the most maniacal and hideous giggles in the role. His face is painted gold. As the “mundane” Mr. Gold, he’s merely cold and calculating and a convincing devil character at all times. Still, you never really quite know which side he is truly on. He gets a shot at redemption and even love in this season, and it would be spoiling to tell you how it worked out. Needless to say, he’s not completely regained his “good” nature. Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parilla have too close a look to be as distinctive as the characters should be. Parilla’s is by far the more convincing and better performance. Of course, it really is more fun to play evil than it is to portray good. Raphael Sbarge is terribly underused as Jiminy and doesn’t appear in most of the episodes. He’s the show’s grounding character and certainly should have more to do. Young Jared Gilmore is infectious as Henry and shows a lot of energy and passion in the part. Of course, the true lead here is Jennifer Morrison as Emma. She doesn’t really have a counterpart in fairyland, so she doesn’t get to stretch the performance as much. Maybe that’s for the best. She represents us here, and we see, at least the mundane world, through her eyes.
The final moments of season three give me some hope for the coming season. Emma brings back two things that will lead to serious trouble. One is revealed outright in the series finale. The other is strongly hinted, but we all know who that is. Not to give you a cold shoulder here, but if you don’t know it yet, I wouldn’t want to freeze you out of some enjoyment and surprise. So I will leave you out in the cold for now. “It’s a good thing you don’t ask too many questions.”
Grey’s Anatomy Season 10
Grey’s Anatomy has continued to surprise fans and critics alike. As far back as the seventh season there was strong talk that the show was drawing to an inevitable close. Since that time we have seen the end of the spinoff series Private Practice, which I always considered to be a better show. Nothing’s changed; as the show entered its ninth year there was the same talk both from outside and from within that the series was ending. Not only did it not end, but the show took some serious strides in ratings and storytelling. Now, going into 10 there is still talk of the show ending. The huge talk involves Sandra Oh leaving the series, but cast changes have been going on every year for this series. Huge regulars have left or even been forced out. Over the years we saw huge names like Isaiah Washington, Kate Walsh, Katherine Heigl, T.R. Knight, and now Eric Dane and Chyler Leigh. Is Grey’s going away? I’m not completely sure. What I am sure of is that fans should not miss the 10th season on DVD.
Of course, the year is marked by the planned exit of Sandra Oh as Dr. Wang. Fans knew going in that it was going to be her last year, and I have to say she gets the most elaborate sendoff yet on the show. The writers took their time and built toward the exit. It led to one of the season’s better shows where Wang lives alternate lives in her mind. We get to see how different choices might have played out for her. We also get Grey’s look at what the future might look like in technology and even interesting scrubs fashion. I kind of liked the new look. Obviously, it’s all leading to her decision to leave. A surprise guest visit by Isaiah Washington as Burke ends up putting the final exclamation point on her departure. This is after a lot of wasted time on an award hope and a bit of a breakup with Grey. They’ve built her up to be such a stellar and driven doctor that this outcome had to happen eventually if the show was going to continue to be honest.
You get all 24 episodes, deleted scenes and a gag reel. You’ll get a look at how they do all that medical jargon and what those things are they’re operating on. There’s a focus feature on Sandra Oh. She gives us a tour of the production offices where we stop in editing for a look at her milestone moments including her first appearance on the pilot.
The season finale gives us the goodbye for Wang. The show will continue; for how long, I’m not sure. I guess for fans, “You’ve got to enjoy it while you can.”