Television

Castle: Series Premiere

Castle establishes the attractive opposites at its center, the womanizing, resolutely unserious novelist and the stern, utterly dedicated cop.

Castle

Airtime: Mondays, 10pm ET
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Monet Mazur, Ruben Santiago-Hudson
MPAA rating: N/A
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: ABC
US release date: 2009-03-08
Website
Trailer
Amazon
There are no new stories, there are only new characters. We have really new characters.

-- Andrew Marlowe, Castle executive producer, New York Times, 7 March 2009

Mystery writer Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is flattered when he learns that a killer has been mimicking his murder scenes. He imagines that his poker buddies will be jealous. "In my world," he asserts, a copycat is "the red badge of honor, the criminal Cooperstown." New York homicide detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is not impressed. In her world, that is the real world, murders are not badges of honor. They are cases to be solved.

With this and a couple of other too similar exchanges, Castle establishes the attractive opposites at its center, the womanizing, resolutely unserious novelist and the stern, utterly dedicated cop. That she also happens to have read all his novels makes her a lucky cop, because she recognizes the patterned killings. Called in for questioning by police Castle is slick and silly, explaining away his "rap sheet" (disorderly conduct, etc.) as "Boys will be boys." Kate is only annoyed. "This whole bad boy thing you've got going might work for bimbettes and celebutantes," she chastises, "Me? I work for a living."

This sort of banter takes up a good portion of the Castle premiere episode, each instance of it reinforcing the always-already familiar premise. The show is not unaware of this problem, as it sets up Castle's decision to kill off his series' hero precisely because he was becoming banal. "There were no more surprises," he tells his precocious daughter Alexis (Molly C. Quinn). "I knew exactly what was going to happen, every moment of every scene." How preemptive.

But acknowledging -- even drawing attention to -- the series' essential predicament is not in itself a solution. As soon as Castle complains of the equally predictable book promo party where he and Alexis are chatting -- "Just once, I would like someone to come up to me and say something new".... guess what happens? Kate approaches, badge flashing, saying something that passes for "new." That is, she's hauling him down to the station for "a few questions."

"That's new," says Alexis as her father's jaw drops open. But it's not really. Instead, Kate's arrival on cue indicates the show's fondness for clichés, of timing and theme as well as situation. If Alexis's precociousness is its own banality (when her father returns from his evening "downtown" with the cops, she cutely asks how it went: "Anyone make you their bitch?"). Like daughter, like father. He and Kate are yet another mismatched pair of cop show heroes, delivering to expectations very nicely. He's charismatic and virile (enough) while being vulnerable and, apparently, a sensitive dad (his angry ex-wife is currently his promoter and complaining bout his writer's block, rather dominant in a not-so-nice way). Kate, for her part, is tough (reminding her new, unwanted partner that she wears a gun), but also has a difficult past that he intuits right away. Or, he tells a story that might be her past, by way of illustrating that she has a story, and she goes along, not correcting his version of her (essentially, she's "from money" and someone close to her became an unsolved case, inspiring her to become a "good-looking, smart" cop).

Castle's way with women is at least facetiously attributable to his hard-partying but deep-down sweet mother Martha (Susan Sullivan), who brings home men she cares nothing about, while son and granddaughter look on with seemingly bemused expressions on their faces. Just how said son became a best-selling writer is less clear, though he does play poker with Stephen J. Cannel and James Patterson, appearing as themselves and offering the sort of wry self-reflexive commentary that -- again -- you might. When he describes the case he's working on with Kate, his fellow slick professionals offer advice: "You need a character that thinks this kid's innocent and keeps digging until he finds the truth." Ah yes, finding the truth, just what Castle sees himself doing.

If the meta-texting is occasionally obvious, it is also Castle's primary appeal, its gimmick, if you will. Castle knows from gimmicks, knows how and when they're most effective. And Kate, she's something of a gimmick in herself, partly charmed by this rascal and also partly bored by him. As they compare notes on their first case together (the episode is named for one of his self-described "lesser books," "Flowers for Your Grave"), they compete and also collaborate. Extolling his own virtues, Castle notes, "I'm also pretty well versed in psychopathic methodologies," then adds, "Do you know that you have gorgeous eyes?" Yecch. For a moment, Kate is rightfully put off by such staleness. But then, after they've solved their case and Castle goes home to begin typing up the new story, his writer's block is suddenly gone. He has found a muse. And you know what happens next.

5

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Music

Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.

Music

IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.

Music

Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.

Film

NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.

Music

The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.