Castle: The Complete First Season (2009, ABC Studios/Buena Vista)
purchase from Amazon: DVD
Castle, the ABC mystery series, proves one thing: Nathan Fillion is a star. He has charm, comic timing, and enough charisma to make him a wonderful leading man. The first season on the show is out on DVD (13 episodes in all) and the second season has just begun airing on the network. I hope Castle manages to hold its own against CSI: Miami and Jay Leno, because itâ€™s a slick, fun show that deserves to be a big hit.
Fillion stars as Rick Castle, a best selling novelist in the vein of James Patterson (who makes an appearance as himself in the pilot episode). Castle’s latest novel kills off his long-running character, Derek Storm, leading his fans to ask â€œwhat next?â€™ Fate drops that answer in his lap when a killer begins mimicking the murders from Castle’s books. The confident author is brought in by the NYPD as a consultant on the case. Immediately he butts heads with the stunning Detective Bennett (Stana Katic) and bonds with the other homicide detectives in the squad room, Esposito and Ryan (Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever, respectively). As soon as the case is solved, Bennett believes sheâ€™s seen the last of him. Not so, say the TV gods. Castle is so well connected that he convinces the police commissioner to let him tag along with Beckett on all of her cases as research for a new novel heâ€™s writing featuring a female detective (in truth he loves the thrill of it all). How long sheâ€™s assigned to have him shadow her depends on how soon he completes his book. In other words, indefinitely, which is fine as it allows Castle and Beckett to build enough sexual tension to remind you of the glory days of Moonlighting.
While Castle and Beckett flirt their way around good old murders of the week in a style thatâ€™s a throw back to The Rockford Files and the cheeky days of Magnum, P.I., the author-turned-detective also must contend with a home life as a single dad raising a 15-year-old daughter who is wise beyond her years. This TV clichÃ© would be sickening if it werenâ€™t for the sparkling performance Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle. While the role could have been played with plenty of eye-rolling at her fatherâ€™s shenanigans and the numerous women he beds, Quinn plays Alexis as a teenage girl who looks up to, loves and respects her dad, no matter how hard he tries to be her friend more than her parent. Castle also has his boozy mother, Martha (Susan Sullivan) that he must deal with. Martha, a former actress, lives off of her sonâ€™s wealth and likes to put him in his place any chance she gets.
Castle offers plenty of mystery and good humor, with great music and solid technical aspects across the board. What come to mind when I watched Castle are series like the aforementioned The Rockford Files and other shows from the legendary Stephen J. Cannellâ€™s canon of crime-solving shows. In fact, Cannell makes an appearance as himself in the pilot episode. The TV mogul-turned-crime novelist has a good time poking fun at himself while also serving as a peer for Castle.
In the end, though, the series rests upon Fillion’s broad shoulders as the titular character that jumps back and forth from the fictional crimes of his novels and the reality of the squad room. Fillion is so good in everything his does, from Firefly to the horror film Slithers to Desperate Housewives to Joss Whedonâ€™s web series, Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog, that itâ€™s a shame he isnâ€™t a more recognizable face to the average television viewer. He has the kind of smooth acting ability that makes watching an hour of make-believe murder go down easily. I hope the show can find a wider audience. This DVD box of the first season is a great way to start, but set your DVRs to record new episodes and give this good show a chance.