My mother loved the series “Castle” on ABC. Toward the end of her life as she struggled toward a recovery that would not come some of her brightest, happiest moments came watching endless “Castle” reruns on the TNT Network and especially her Monday night ritual of “The Bachelor” and an all new “Castle” on ABC. Sure, TV is the blazing beacon of our disposable culture but I will be forever grateful to ABC and “Castle” for those last few joyful moments the show gave her.
It’s with that in mind that I watched mom’s favorite show for the first time and episode 100 of “Castle,” titled “The Lives of Others,” is one I am sure mom would have been delighted by.
Welcome Mr. Hitchcock
As we join the story we find Richard Castle (Nathan Fillian) wheelchair bound having suffered a skiing accident. When murder calls away Beckett (Stan Katic) Castle must find a way to entertain himself and thus a “Rear Window” scenario is born. Soon Castle is watching his neighbors and, of course, witnessing a murder where all of the clues have the most convenient excuses.
Watching this familiar television trope play out I found myself being a tad disappointed. Each plot development felt predictable and though Fillian manages a few really good laughs from his frustrated attempts to uncover the murder from his wheelchair there was a distinct lack of invention from a show that has a reputation for inventiveness.
Then something happens that makes the entire plot come together in exciting and completely delightful fashion. I won’t spoil it for you DVR junkies; I will only say that the wrap up completely overcame my frustration with the familiarity of each plot development. Fillian and Katic bounce off each other brilliantly in the final moments of this plot with one of the more unlikely romantic birthday gifts ever seen on a TV show.
Murder of the Week
The murder of an IRS Agent is the parallel plot to Castle’s ‘Rear Window’ story and it suffers in comparison. Short shrifted to make room for Castle’s crazy wheelchair adventure, the murder of the week plot is forced to cut a few corners to arrive at its unlikely conclusion. Katic and her terrific supporting players Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever do what they can to breath life into the plot but it’s no match for the ‘Rear Window’ stuff in Castle’s apartment.
So, even though the murder of the week plot is a little flat I definitely see what my mom loved about “Castle.” The series has the airy charm of “Moonlighting” at its height of wit and romance and the kind of safe for TV grit that makes shows like “Bones” so fun to watch. Nathan Fillian is a deep well of charm and his chemistry with Stana Katic is everything the series’ super fans, like my Mom, promised.
Mom was right, sort of
“Castle” 100 showcases the series strengths and weaknesses but as I watched I stopped thinking about the weaknesses and started thinking about what mom would think. Mom would have been thrilled with the “Rear Window” plot as much as I was I was disappointed by its typicality. Mom would have been a great deal more delighted than I was with the clever, romantic ending of the “Rear Window” plot. And, Mom certainly would have defended the murder of the week as needed only to separate Castle and Beckett.
Mom is right and while the critic in me rebels against her logic for formal reasons, the loving son in me can’t help but be won over by her enthusiasm.