Castle: The Complete First Season
September 30, 2009
Nathan Fillion has developed a loyal cult following thanks to his memorable guest spots on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a starring role on the short-lived television show Firefly, not to mention a fantastic turn in the horror/comedy film Slither (2006). He’s been gradually making in-roads towards the mainstream with a stint on Desperate Housewives and now has a starring role in Castle, a mystery show that blends the sensibilities of Murder, She Wrote with Remington Steele.
Richard Castle (Fillion) is a best-selling writer of crime fiction and we first meet him at the launching of his latest novel, basking in the crowd’s adulation while autographing women’s chests. He’s just killed off the popular recurring protagonist in his novels and is late in delivering his new one because he’s lost that creative spark. He’s got three weeks until his publisher, and ex-wife (Mazur), demands the return of his sizable advance.
Castle’s life is about to get a whole lot more interesting thanks to police detective Kate Beckett (Katic). She’s investigating a series of murders that are patterned after ones in his novels and needs his help. He uses his pull with the mayor (“He’s a fan.”) to tag along with Beckett, much to her chagrin. It turns out that he’s an excellent judge of character in addition to shamelessly flirting with her. Naturally, they prove to be a successful team and end up working on several other cases over the course of the first season’s ten episodes.
Castle’s premise is hardly original as the notion of an author solving murders is taken from Murder, She Wrote, while the suave yet smart alecky guy teamed up with the straight-laced woman is right out of Remington Steele and Moonlighting, which gives Castle a kind of retro feel. But let’s face it, the real reason to watch this show is Nathan Fillion who uses his considerable charisma and highly entertaining way of delivering fairly standard dialogue to make this show something of a guilty pleasure. It looks like he’s having a blast putting just the right smarmy spin on his give and take with Stana Katic’s no-nonsense detective.
The show’s creator, Andrew Marlowe, has wisely surrounded Fillion with a supporting cast that allows him to showcase his considerable talents. Stana Katic does a fine job as the dedicated cop and Castle’s foil. She’s more than capable of delivering the snappy dialogue in the scenes where she rebuffs his shameless come-ons. T.V. veteran Susan Sullivan (Dharma & Greg) plays Castle’s brassy, gold-digging mother who is a constant source of frustration and embarrassment. Molly Quinn is also a stand-out as Castle’s smart daughter and voice of reason when he acts out. These two characters not only deflate Castle’s ego, they also humanize him. Sure, they are character types we’ve seen before but Sullivan and Quinn do a good job of making them watchable.
Castle is more of an entertaining show then it should be given the collection of well-worn clichés and stereotypes and this is due in large part to Fillion’s presence. Hopefully, mainstream audiences will realize just how good he is – something that his fans have known for years.
The first disc features an audio commentary on “Flowers for Your Grave” by creator/executive producer Andrew Marlowe, executive producer Rob Bowman, and actors Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, and Jon Huertas. The book launch sequences were actually shot on location in New York City as part of a presentation before the show was picked up. Marlowe talks about the challenge of introducing all the regular characters while also telling a mystery story. Marlowe and Bowman talk about casting Fillion and Katic. Meanwhile, Fillion cracks jokes and is his usual entertaining self.
The second disc includes a commentary on “A Chill Goes Through Her Veins” by Marlowe, Bowman, Fillion, Katic, Huertas and Molly Quinn. They talk about the challenge of filming on an actual construction site. Marlowe and Fillion talk about their approach to the character of Castle. Katic goes into detail about her character’s backstory and how it informs what she does.
Disc three starts off with two commentaries on “A Death in the Family.” The first one features Marlowe, Bowman, Fillion, Katic, Huertas, and Quinn. Everyone banters back and forth while sharing anecdotes about shooting this episode. Katic talks about the dramatic material in this episode and how it changes the relationship between Castle and Beckett.
There is also another commentary for this episode by Huertas and fellow cast member Seamus Dever. These guys crack jokes and praise the episode’s guest stars. They also tell all sorts of filming anecdotes.
“Whodunit: The Genesis of Castle” features Andrew Marlowe talking about the origins of the show – a desire to hearken back to shows like The Rockford Files and Moonlighting. Fillion, Katic and the other regular cast members talk about their characters.
“Castle’s Godfather” is an interview between Marlowe, Bowman and T.V. producer/writer and legend Stephen J. Cannell. Bowman knew Cannell when he was a kid and got his start on T.V. working for him. The two men share entertaining anecdotes about some of the shows they’ve worked on together.
“Write-Along with Nathan Fillion” is a hilarious mock-featurette as the actor spends the day with Cannell. The actor shows up to the man’s house late and is forced to camp out until the next day. Fillion hangs on Cannell’s every word but seems more impressed by the T.V. mogul’s numerous classic cars. This is a fun extra as these two guys play well off each other. Give these guys their own show!
Finally, there is “Misdemeanors: Bloopers and Outtakes” which is an amusing montage of the cast goofing around and blowing their lines with Fillion getting the lion’s share of the laughs.