Thursday, March 5, 2009

first thirteen minutes of ABC's show Castle

ABC has released the first thirteen minutes of the Nathan Fillion crime-comedy Castle, and I have to say, it's a bit more charming than I was anticipating. At first glance, this show seems to be stealing the heterosocial "cop-buddy" formula of Bones, The Mentalist, and Fringe (whereby the goofy playboy male is juxtaposed with the intelligent and rational female), and this was a major turn-off for me. I'm happy that females are being represented as logical, but do they also have to be shown as cold-hearted and unable to let things roll off their backs? I also feel like pairings in this manner constrict the characters to certain boxes as a means of forcing the inevitable will-they-or-won't-they dilemma. I find this to be a terribly boring plotline when that's set up as a major premise, rather than unfolding naturally in the narrative. The original trailer for Castle, which can be seen at the end of the thirteen-minute promo, pretty much screams "SEXUAL ELECTRICITY! THEY'RE MADE FOR EACH OTHER!"

But, having said that, the first thirteen minutes shows promise. For one, the leading actress, Stana Katic, doesn't annoy me (at least, not yet). She's very fluid with her lines, and she doesn't seem to be putting on the tough act in every single one of her scenes. And then there's Nathan Fillion -- who is perfectly cast in this role -- who allows for serious moments, such as with his mother and daughter, in an otherwise absurd role. First, I'm pleased that he has a family of women around him. This will allow him to have heterosocial relations with women outside of Katic's character. Also, it will ground him as a character and make him seem more three-dimensional. If he were just a playboy with no moral foundation*, his schtick would get really old, really quickly. Second, I thought the incorporation of Castle into the police's work seemed natural and convincing. I hate that the original trailer makes the exchange in the questioning room seem so flirtatious, because the scene's actually better written than that. And third, Fillion is really bringing his A-game here. He's making sure that his character is likable, but also not a complete idiot. As soon as he's done joking with his new cop buddy, he goes home and starts looking through his old books for answers. It shows that he takes himself -- and his copycat psychopath fan -- seriously.

* The fantastic part about this -- other than casting Susan Sullivan (of Dharma and Greg) as Castle's mother -- is that Castle's daughter will play the adult in their relationship, and yet he will no doubt play the adult in his relationship with his mother. A fantastic scene in the promo involves his mother singing "I'm just a girl who can't say no," which Castle suggests be her theme song. There's a real boy-in-a-grown-man's-body issue here, and I think that will develop into something interesting.

The premiere is Monday at 10pm on ABC. I'll be watching the first few episodes. Hopefully the rest of the episode will maintain my interest.

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