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Why aren’t you watching Castle?

For the uninitiated, it’s the show that Firefly star Nathan Fillion did next. It isn’t sci-fi, it’s a cop show1 and revolves around the adventures of Detective Kate Beckett, (played by former Bond Girl Stana Katic) and an incredibly successful crime writer, Richard Castle. (Played by Captain Tightpants himself, Nathan Fillion.) Beckett is a gritty New York cop on the edge, looking for the scumbags that have done her wrong, whereas Castle is a care-free, fun loving thrillseeking crime novellist who brings with him the power of imagination. Together, they fight crime.

Sounds cheesy, doesn’t it?

The pen. Mightier than the sword. But not mightier than a gun that shoots pens.

It is. It’s as clichéd as it sounds as well as silly and light. A classic cop show, the sort that many of us grew up with. If elements of it seems familiar, it may be because one of the main writers for the show was Stephen J. Cannell2, who wrote the Rockford Files and The A- Team.

American crime dramas are ten-a-penny but Castle is one of the few which focuses less on the crime, and more on the crime fighters. The show is filled with cross-genre references (and frequent nods to Firefly) and has had stories centring around comic books, alien abductions, steampunk parties and superspies. Each ridiculous premise is taken on the chin, without the show ever descending into parody. Fillion’s larger than life hero makes it easy to suspend disbelief, and as the show never actually crosses the line into pure fantasy, what we end up with is a cop-show that pretends to be as grime filled as the streets of New York, but instead happens to be filled with fun.

There is, of course, a will they/won’t they sub-plot going between the two main characters. Of course there is, it’s that kind of show. The support characters have their own sub-plots and romance things going on, and the world of Castle breathes. The show works because not only is each member of the cast distinctive and interesting, they’re important. We care about Castle’s family and the other detectives in the precinct. The lead character may be a care free clown, but as the show progresses, we grow to understand why.
Castle draws us in with charming little references to geek culture, entertains us with Fillions charm, makes us laugh with a cleverly arranged sight gag or subplot and then just as we get to relax, it reminds us that it is a cop show and that in crime stories, horrible things happen to good people, and because we have invested into the characters so much, we love it.

1: Rather than Crime Drama, which is a terribly broad term. Sherlock is a crime drama, as is The Killing. Cop shows tend to be less intense, and have good guy cops versus bad guy robbers. Or to put it another way, are more likely to be escapist and fun, rather than thrilling and gritty.
2: Cannel passed away about a year and half ago. He was an incredible talent, and great scriptwriter and also happened to be dyslexic.

Categories: TV
  1. Ros
    February 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    If Cannel passed away, perhaps it should be ‘one of the main writers for the show WAS…’? Good little article, though. Still a little frustrating that they haven’t released any of it in R2 DVD format yet!

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