Castle

⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 2 reviews.

tl;dr: The ridiculously sublime adventures of Rick Castle and his much more qualified friends. Not exactly high art, but a whole lot of fun, with greater depth and better plots than it needed.

Season One

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

Discovering that Castle has been made available on Disney+ was a great birthday surprise back in March – I've been a big fan for years! It's no surprise then that we burnt through the first season pretty quickly, though I was surprised at how short it had been (only 10 episodes? Was this during the writer's strike?).

Still, I'm glad to say I still love the show. Castle himself is a bit more of an eye-rolling party douche in the first season than I remember, but the scripts keep this balanced well enough with his family life to make him at least a little likeable. Plus, it means that Beckett can legitimately be annoyed at him without the audience utterly disliking him or her actions seeming petty, so it works fine.

The rest of the cast are just as I remember. In fact, I was surprised how quickly the show settles into a rhythm. The pilot introduces a single character that is never seen again (Castle's ex-wife and manager), but other than her very little changes from episode one to episode one hundred (from what I can remember at least). On top of which, having now made our way through several similar TV series, I have to say that the actual plotlines in Castle are above average. The whodunnit elements are decently crafted, the stories are novel, and the twists are earned. Many similar shows simply withhold information from the audience in order to keep the murderer secret, and whilst Castle still does this to some extent it feels natural. There aren't moments when a key clue is revealed later that should have been obvious in an earlier scene, but just wasn't shown, for example; if the characters should have picked up on it, the audience is shown it, even if the relevance doesn't become immediately clear.

Of course, the big comparison is between Castle and The Mentalist. When Alison started me on the latter, I was consistently struck by how similar the two felt. The Mentalist is one of her all-time favourites, whilst Castle is one of mine, so I've had a fear that the similarities might ruin it. Luckily, whilst there are obvious comparisons (the kickass female detective who thinks outside the box, the rogue and handsome consultant, the comedy buddy partners, the whole murder-mystery premise, the hints at romance etc.) the shows are different enough to feel fresh. I like to think of Castle as the less gritty, more wholesome equivalent to The Mentalist, even if it goes in for some surprisingly graphic murder scenes.

Overall, then, I'm still a huge fan. Some of the dialogue has aged to the point of sexism or at least slightly creepy lechery, but for the most part, the jokes still land, the stories are still interesting, and the characters are still a lot of fun. It's lighthearted fluff, but it's much better than your average lighthearted fluff, and it never fails to elicit a smile.

Season Two

Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

The second season is more than twice the length of the first. I think we finished it in about the same amount of time 😬😂 In other words, I'm utterly hooked once again.

I'd say, overall, the second season is a little weaker in terms of the individual murder plots, but much stronger in terms of character arcs. Castle is a lot less skeevy and a lot more charming (though still a bachelor at heart), and the rest of the surrounding cast get some nice bits of growth here and there. Of course, the big central will they, won't they around Beckett and Castle works well enough, though I felt the ending was a little cheap. Honestly, it felt like they'd been cancelled, so decided to wrap things up, then got extended and had to quickly write themselves into a position for another season. If that genuinely happened, then I think Beckett's cop boyfriend going nowhere seems fine, but I still think they could have done better than "Castle gets back together with his ex-wife out of the blue". Like, literally anything would have been better. Still, the whole "I'm off for the summer", "We'll see you again in the Fall, right?", "Of course" back and forth couldn't have been more telegraphed as to TV seasons if it tried, so maybe they knew it was phoned in and tried to laugh it off.

That said, a lacklustre final five minutes shouldn't utterly mar an otherwise excellent finale. I did really like Beckett's boyfriend and watching her whole conundrum unfold. Similarly, I thought the show did really well to resolve the season one cliffhanger neatly and did a good job of advancing the plot about her mother's killer; it came out of the blue and made for a really interesting episode. And my earlier note on the murders being slightly lesser is a minor one – they remain surprisingly intelligent and hard to predict, without resorting to cheap TV tricks.

Which is all to say that season two was a huge amount of fun, exactly the Castle that I remember, and I imagine we'll be steaming ahead through season three very shortly.

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