Castle -- An early look
by Jonathan Toomey, posted Mar 9th 2009 10:27AM
Nathan Fillion deserves a break. Sure, he's had a successful career with memorable guest turns in recent hits such as Lost and Desperate Housewives. And sure, he's got cult hits like Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog under his belt, too. However, as of late, the well has run dry for Fillion (Drive, anyone?), and let's be honest - a man cannot live off of Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place residuals alone. So I'll say it again - the man deserves a break. Castle, unfortunately, is not that break.
Fillion stars as Rick Castle, a hugely popular crime novelist whose latest novel is the last in his best-selling series. Why the last? He killed off his lead character, Derek Storm. Like Storm, Castle also appears to be ready to drift off into oblivion as his angry ex-wife publisher demands new material despite Rick's recent inability to put pen to paper.
After screening the first two episodes ("Flowers For Your Grave," "Nanny McDead"), I'm starting to wish that Castle's writer's block was harder to crack. Just when it seemed as though his career was headed for trouble, a serial killer pops up, offing his victims based on murders in some of Castle's novels. If it sounds gimmicky, well, that's because it is. The novelty wears off fast as the case is solved and the series premiere ends. Once the second episode hits, it's just another cop show with a couple of romantically challenged, comically mismatched partners.
The other half of that team is Kate Beckett (Stana Katic, recently seen in Quantum of Solace), your standard, no-nonsense, "ain't gonna take no crap from this womanizing author," type of gal. However, Castle sees his next series of novels through her eyes and after consulting with her on the copy-cat murder case, he uses his pull with the Mayor (the man is a big fan) to become Kate's defacto partner. For "research" naturally - gotta know what makes a savvy female detective tic.
Katic plays the role perfectly, dealing with her conflicting emotions as a fan of Castle's work and as his new NYPD liaison. Fillion does well living up to Kate's description of Castle: "like a nine-year-old on a sugar rush."
While the first two hours do provide a decent amount of laughs, the endless supply of sexual innuendos and coy retorts that Castle has in his repertoire get old fast. The supporting cast helps to make up for some of this, though. Susan Sullivan plays Rick's hilarious, boozy, big-mouth mother Martha perfectly, and Jon Huertas (phenomenal as Sgt. Espera in HBO's Generation Kill) stands out as one of Kate's co-workers, Det. Javier Esposito.
Beyond that, the entire premise of the series is something we've seen used time and again - this is just another twist on the same old classic. But Rick Castle is an author. So he should know all about that.
Castle premieres tonight at 10PM ET on ABC.