Friday, February 24, 2012

Box Set Blues: Castle, Series 1

I seem to watch a fair bit of "proper" TV. If you ask me to list shows I watch I'd go for the top draw stuff, the big American dramas of quality and style, but I do have a guilty secret - I have a huge soft spot for gimmicky, odd-couple procedurals. I mean, House, is a great example, and Bones. Shows which are basically the same every week, holding on my the fun of watching the characters do their "thing" together. I can't pretend they're quality shows, I can pretend they're cutting edge - all I hope for is fun.

So I was recommended Castle, staring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, as a new one for line up of DVD comfort food...

The basic premise of Castle is gimmicky even by the standards of these odd-couple shows. She's a hard-boiled New York cop with an Angsty past; he's a rich, best-selling crime writer in search of inspiration! They Fight Crime!

Yes, really.

And oddly it all sort of works. A big chunk of the credit has to go to Nathan Fillion's easy-going charm and general willingness to play the buffoon. Richard Castle is not a serious character; he's flippant, arrogant, happy-go-lucky and in the wrong hands - and credit to the script, as well as the actor - it could be torture, especially as he has to be often right in face of conventional cop wisdom for the shows premise to even vaguely work. And the rest of the cast have the slightly joyless task of playing straight man to him, and yet it all hangs together, even if most of the non-Stana Katic cops sort of blur together in the background.

In some ways there isn't a lot to say about these shorts of shows because they're so utterly shallow, and attempt on their behalf to dive deeper only exposes the shortcomings there so clearly are. Castle works best when its running on a sort of blood-stained zaniness - gruesomely novel murders with slightly odd motives, a pantomime written by Edgar Allen Poe, with everything slightly heightened. Although that may sound like I'm overselling it - there's flashes of a such a show, and more regrettable episodes where it takes itself a little more seriously and it all works less well as a consequence.

So overall - Castle works. It has the key thing for me, which is that its fun just to watch the characters bouncing around, and it's not going to tax my brain late on an evening just before we go to bed. And there's always a place for that in my DVD collection.