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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

TV Rewind | Castle: Faux Sherlock with a tub of popcorn

The best part of Castle was its charming cast. It was due to this cast that it had a successful run of eight seasons because as a show, there wasn't much here to distinguish it from other detective dramas.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: May 5, 2020 2:05:59 pm
castle tv show Castle wasn’t the smartest detective show but its affable nature gave it a life of eight seasons.

There are certain genres in television that have been delivering successful shows for decades. Shows with cops at the forefront are crowd-pleasers and one such show that was just perfect popcorn entertainment was Castle. The best part about watching detective dramas is playing Sherlock for a short period, and Castle, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic in the lead roles, gave its viewers ample opportunity to do that.

What is Castle about?

Castle gets its name from the lead character of the show, Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion). He is a mystery novel writer who has hit a writer’s block and starts shadowing Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) to get inspired. His far-fetched theories about solving cases aren’t always the most practical ones but nevertheless, help his co-workers in solving cases.

Over the course of eight seasons of the show, we see Castle and Beckett’s relationship evolve, and this becomes the backbone of the show. Created by Andrew W Marlowe, Castle was quite good at building up the mystery, but not so great at solving it.

What works for Castle?

While Castle is essentially a detective drama, it comes with a heavy dosage of workplace sitcom-ness. The show relies on the smart and witty approach of Fillion’s character to solve cases, and it’s his relationship with all the characters that moves the emotional wheel on the show.

At the precinct, Jon Huertas’ Javi Esposito and Seamus Dever’s Kevin Ryan are the key players, and outside of that, it’s Richard’s daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) and mother Martha (Susan Sullivan). Of course, Kate’s character is the sensible one as opposed to Rick’s, who usually indulges in an outlandish approach to solve a case but it’s this balance between the two that makes Castle quite engaging.

It’s not like Castle is the best detective drama, but what it lacks in fine writing, it makes up for in its friendly and casual approach. This approach makes the show so watchable that you don’t even have to begin watching from the first episode to get it. You can just start anywhere, and still be just as involved.

nathan fillion Castle was a detective drama with a generous dose of workplace comedy.

The best part of Castle was its charming cast. It was due to this cast that it had a successful run of eight seasons because as a show, there wasn’t much here to distinguish it from other detective dramas.

Long-running shows have the advantage of weaving richer backstories and Castle engaged in that for the first few years. However, as the show moved on, these came to an end, and we were left to follow the love story of its lead characters.

What does not work for Castle?

We admit that not every detective drama has to be Sherlock, but Castle made things a little too easy. Every episode here had an almost-fixed structure. In a span of 40 minutes, you were told the premise, conflict, some clues and voila – the case was solved!

The format was – police gets a case, Rick Castle has a weird theory about it, they have some suspects, some police work happens, and just as there are 7-10 minutes left for the episode to end – Rick has a lightbulb moment. The pattern was so fixed that sometimes the audience was introduced to the clues only after Castle had solved the case, which robbed us of our little joyous detective moments.

The show did not waver away from its pattern until it was for a longer story arc, but Castle did not generally do well in that department. Case in point, the entire final season!

TV Rewind | The Middle | Weeds | 30 Rock | House MD | The Newsroom | Parenthood | Gilmore Girls | Bojack Horseman | Gossip Girl | Fleabag | The Americans | Mildred Pierce | How I Met Your Mother | Boston Legal | Death Note | Heroes | Felicity | Small Wonder | Breaking Bad | That 70s ShowAHS Roanoke | Friends | The West Wing | Sharp Objects | Patrick Melrose | AHS Murder House | Arrested Development | Two and a Half Men | Girls | The Good Wife | Dead Set | Dexter | Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip | The Office | Parks and Recreation | Fringe | Broadchurch | Seinfeld | Lost | Mad Men | Sex and the City

It was quite surprising that Castle lasted for eight seasons, considering that the show was not big on awards or ratings. The biggest advantage it had was Nathan Fillion’s fan army and looks like the show milked it for as long as it lasted.

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