During the last episode of the first season of Castle, 1.10, I said out loud to the wife, “Wow, actual tension. That’s nice.” Because, as fun as it is to watch the leads, you know everything’s pat, nothing will shake up the major characters, and Castle will figure things out by having unrelated conversations about the cases with his mom and daughter (“You’re going on a date.” [Pause. Think for a second.] “You’re right – jilted lovers or MIGHT have motive. We were just interviewing neighbors. Thanks, Mom!”) but the last couple of episodes changed it up a bit. Good cliffhanger for the next season as well.
I can’t complain – the leads are good enough and their relationship is taken slow enough that it works. Stana Katic, playing tuffchick Lt. Beckett, is the emotional grounding and straightman (woman/person) and is eminently watchable. She doesn’t look like a person, she looks like a model that can act. Nathan Fillion (not Phillion, Google warns) is fun as the cocky successful mystery writer with the jokes and overconfidence. He’s a little too knowing and untouchable, so they throw in that every case makes him worry about what’s happening with his daughter. Which was a nice touch, the first time (not the eighth, peeps, give him another human dimension! He deeply cares about his bowling team! He’s obsessed about his cooking!). But his untouchability also means that we can relax because he’s not going to be hurt. He’s never going to run out of money, he doesn’t have to worry about relationships, there are no moral issues because he’s already Done Everything. Again, see Diagnosis Murder: what’s ever going to happen to Dick Van Dyke in that show? He’ll scold someone terribly or run into an old (actual OLD PERSON old) flame that he’ll know exactly how to handle. It’s Mayberry in a hospital crime scenario. This is Mayberry in an almost gritty Murder She Wrote. Though it is WAY less boring (and way less textured) than Murder She Wrote. (On an unrelated note, a friend thinks Angela Lansbury is really the killer the whole time. Wouldn’t that be a good twist? She’s there EVERY TIME someone’s killed. Who else could it be? People are dying ALL AROUND her.)
And you know what, this is exactly what I’m looking for right now, and I’m going to seek out the next season, because it works as a pat answer show. These aren’t characters I’m going to think about when the show’s over, but I know that. That’s fine. There’s a time and a place. I haven’t gotten past season 3 of Lost – that’s a show with deep hooks. The Office as well – though I’m pretty caught up, this blog does not reflect the amount of time I’ve thought through those characters and wrung my hands about Jim and Pam (that’s a post for another day). But there’s a time and a place. This is light – it’s popcorn TV.
Some other notes – and here we run into some of the wonderfulness of the Internet (it’s one way to figure out what the crap Mullholland Drive meant) – when I looked to secure Castle season 2, it turns out that there are a couple of spoof books written by “Richard Castle”, the fictional author of mystery books in the show. That’s a nice touch. I’m not going to read them, but the wife might.
Last thought – I went to IMDB to find who the producer was that the wife recognized from his production signature – (he types, he throws the paper in the air, it turns into a curved c) and find that there are a few episodes from season 2, WHOLE episodes, on IMDB. When did they start doing this? Of course they’re from the end of the season so I’m not going to watch them until I catch up, but that’s interesting. A look at Hulu shows it’s basically the same offerings. So I guess they worked out the same deals. They have expiration dates, though, a few expire in a couple of days (so I’m guessing the season premiere of season 3 is coming up).