ABC’s new drama Castle is built on a mismatched pairing of protagonists that is the bread and butter of most romantic comedies. Nathan Fillion stars as Richard Castle, a famous crime novelist who has just killed off his most popular character and is stricken with writer’s block. When a killer begins staging crime scenes to match the covers of Castle’s books, the author is called in to help the NYPD. The lead detective on the case is Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and, attracted by her good looks and no-nonsense personality, Castle finds in her the inspiration for his next novel. Much to Beckett’s dismay, Castle uses his notoriety and friendship with the mayor to accompany Beckett on her cases as research for his new book. The show’s gimmick is that Castle imagines each crime as the plot to a mystery novel, assigning motive and pointing out unnoticed details to the investigators. While Castle is charming and quick-witted, his NYPD counterpart is strangely uneven as a homicide detective. When she isn’t arriving at a crime scene dressed like an H&M mannequin, she’s oblivious to simple facts of the case. In the third episode of the series, Castle has to remind her that the murder victim was dragged from where he was shot (a fact noted in the opening scene), and this embarrassing reminder becomes the key to solving the case. It’s certainly a convenient lapse in memory intended to make Castle appear as though he’s a big help to the case, but it’s unfortunately done at the expense of Beckett, who only ends up looking like an amateur by comparison. Castle succeeds, however, where Fox’s Lie to Me fails. Staying largely on track as a dramedy rather than a sober drama with light laughs, Castle‘s plot holes can be forgiven more easily when they’re at the expense of a good gag. Fillion’s performance is top-notch and his character’s off-key relationship with his mother and daughter, both of whom live with him, adds a charming element to the series that makes it more than the usual police procedural.
- ABC, Mondays, 10 p.m.
- Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Molly C. Quinn, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jon Heurtas, Tamala Jones, Seamus Dever, Susan Sullivan
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