Monday, March 09, 2009

'Castle' review - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review ABC's new mystery series "Castle":
"Are you here to annoy me?" NYPD cop Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) wearily asks her unofficial new partner, mystery novelist Rick Castle.

"I'm here for the story," Castle (Nathan Fillion) tells her.

Castle first hooks up with Beckett to solve a trio of murders based on his books, then decides to use her as inspiration for a new series of novels. As a man in his profession might be, he's obsessed with finding a good story. Time and time again through the two episodes of ABC's new mystery series "Castle" that I've seen, Castle complains that Kate's latest theory of the crime doesn't make for an interesting story, or is pleased when a new development makes the story more interesting for him.

Yet "Castle" the show doesn't seem all that interested in finding the most interesting, or unique, ways to tell its stories. It's an amalgamation of a half-dozen other crime shows (at a minimum) and, at times, is so packed with cliches that my wife (watching the pilot alongside me) began reciting Stana Katic's dialogue five seconds in advance with uncanny accuracy. At one point, after Castle complained that a solution came too easily, my wife and Katic were in stereo as they declared, "This isn't one of your books, Castle!"

(A TV critic's marriage occasionally leads to scenes like this, I suppose.)

Not that we were exactly unhappy watching it. "Castle," for all its predictability -- and its unfortunately timed resemblance to hits like "The Mentalist" -- isn't without its charms, chief among them Nathan Fillion.
To read the full thing, click here. I don't think I'm going to do a separate review of the pilot, so feel free to comment here after you've watched it.

24 comments:

MCB said...

I love Nathan Fillion, and I'm glad to hear "Castle" isn't as awful as it looked in the previews. I still can't help feeling sort of disappointed that Fillion's new leading-man gig comes on such a formulaic cop show, but maybe "Castle" will make an old genre fun again (sort of like "Life" has).

Anonymous said...

interesting...Mo Ryan's in the Chicago Tribune review thought they had a complete lack of chemistry. I look forward to seeing it myself!

Art Fleming said...

I know we aren`t supposed to complain about these things, but nothing about the L Word finale? Thats shocking!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Art have you ever, ever, ever read me write anything about "The L Word"? Like, ever?

Hatfield said...

Art was joking. Had to be, yes?

The LA Times had a similar review, and I think that'll be enough for me to at least check it out. Can't say no to Mal

shara says said...

@MCB - "I love Nathan Fillion, and I'm glad to hear "Castle" isn't as awful as it looked in the previews."

That was my exact reaction. I had been cringing at the previews, but am holding out hope that the series can be decent, terrible promos notwithstanding. I saw the first 13 minutes on youtube last Friday, and just what little bit I saw seemed really promising. I'll give it a few episodes!

Art Fleming said...

Yeah i was joking.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry, Art. Been dealing with a lot of whiny behavior from the commenters lately (on both blogs), so my sarcasm detector is out of tune.

Pamela Jaye said...

I had to link this on my facebook page just so I could post the quote where you and your wife quoted (in advance) in stereo (where avaiable).

This one is going to have to reach to catch the greatness that was Captain "cheesy on the inside" Hammer.

At least it's not on at 8 :-)

I would not be a Fillion fan (I could not get into Firefly) but Captain Hammer was such the perfect role. Kinda like Denny Crane (except I truly believe that Shatner is that full of himself and liked him playing that, for that reason (and still have 5 eps unwatched).)

Anonymous said...

How is this show not called, "Murder, He Wrote?"

dez said...

I am probably the target audience for this show because I will watch *anything* Nathan Fillion is in. Unfortunately, I won't get to see this one until later in the week since it's on past my bedtime.

Dan Coyle said...

The L Word? Man, what a great show that was. Too bad it got canceled after the first season.

Wait, it wasn't? WELL I SO WISH IT HAD BEEN.

Karen said...

Interesting that you and Mo Ryan split on the chemistry question.

I will watch ALMOST anything Fillion is in (I even went back to Desperate Housewives after he joined, but he was not used enough to help me tolerate EVERYONE ELSE on that show; I did watch all the episodes of Drive, though), so I will definitely be giving this a try. I watched the first 13 minutes and was NOT impressed (boring, predictable; everything you've said, Alan), but Fillion has enormous reserves of charm, and that's jake with me.

I watch The Mentalist for the same reason; Simon Baker is pretty damn charming. I stopped watching Lie to Me after the first episode for the same reason: Tim Roth is talented but not particularly charming.

So, Castle is on the DVR series list for now--we'll see what happens.

Art Fleming said...

No offense taken Alen.

About Castle, im looking forward to it. I just think its good that the networks are going a little bit back to the more lighter, detective shows, thats just a better way to do it than having those shows that try to have thos House-like cynics in the center (basically like lie to me).

killerlu said...

I'm on the fence about this show. Will probably watch unless a poker game happens. I like Fillion ever since he played a bad guy preacher in Buffy, the vampire Slayer season six. I just had a problem with the previews and that not only did it look like "Bones" in the verbal sparring way but it also seemed to have too many close-ups. Is that just me seeing it this way?

Anonymous said...

Was that an interesting plot? No.

Was Nathan Fillion delicious? Yes. I will keep watching. That was some yummy UST.

J said...

Breezy, predictable, fun enough for background noise.

The best thing Fillion will ever be in is the "Who is Bill Pardy?" extra on the Slither DVD. (The movie is actually really good, too.)

Nancy said...

I liked it well enough to tune in next week. After all, pilots don't tend to be the best indicators. And I would watch Fillion read the phone book, cause you know it would be hilarious and charming.

I thought Castle and Beckett had amazing chemistry, and I loved that fact that she whispered into his ear at the end, like, you have no idea. Honey, yes, we do!

killerlu said...

I agree with you,Nancy. I enjoyed it enough to watch it again but this may get old fast. And I always have that feeling in the back of my brain that there is something better out there for Fillion.

Jennifer said...

Well, I liked it. The show made me giggle a lot even beyond me being a NF fan. Kid on a sugar high indeed. And his relatives REALLY fit with him, which was pretty adorable. I'll be watching till it gets canceled.

Pamela Jaye said...

I don't watch cop shows (hardly any) so I'm a less tough critic on thst front.
I tried to watch Bones for said banter, but discussions of pooled bodily fluids sent me cookie tossing to another room.
Apparently I can only handle bodily fluids on living patients (I don't watch CSI either)
It was, so far, good enough for me.
Also noticed the resemblance to Jessica Walter's charachter on the show that i'm 9 eps behind on and not catching up soon.

Oboe said...

Loved this show. The relationship between Castle and the stunningly beautiful detective is good. I hope they flesh out the other actors a bit. Watching these two leads bicker could grow old.

Anonymous said...

Definitely formulaic, but it gets the formula right, I thought. Nathan oozes charm (I think I have a man-crush on him), and I thought he and Stana had decent chemistry. She makes a nice straightwoman for him at any rate.

Susan Sullivan's always fun and the actress playing the daughter did a good job in that slightly formulaic role (also liked the parental chemistry between her and "dad").

Considering I'm barely hanging on with Heroes, Burn Notice is off for the moment, BSG and ER are ending, I can pick up another hour of TV...

amitytv said...

Oh, I feel like a fool. I asked about this show in your open thread, not realizing you had already blogged about it here. My bad!
At any rate, I enjoyed the premiere simply because of Fillion. Yes, he kind of came across as a tool, but I am willing to overlook it for a while. Hopefully the stories each week will be interesting.