Earlier today, I happened to catch an old episode of Castle (2009's "Vampire Weekend") during TNT’s mini-marathon that began with Richard Castle donning a Halloween costume featuring a very familiar brown coat. Obviously excited to be wearing it, he asked his daughter Alexis what she thought. “Didn’t you wear that five years ago?”, she asked. “I like it”, he told her in an endearing nod to Firefly, Nathan Fillion’s (unfortunately) short lived series earlier in the decade.
Tonight’s episode, “Reality Star Struck” was touted as a reunion between Fillion and Gina Torres who played Zoe alongside his Captain Mal Reynolds in Firefly. And how was it?
All I can say is that the five words I most want to hear on a Monday is “A new Castle starts now".
The episode opens with Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) bickering over what one might have gotten the other for their first official Valentine’s Day together. They then arrive at a murder scene where the corpse just happens to be Hannah, a prominent cast member of the reality TV series, “Wives of Wall Street”.
Who could have murdered Hannah? Was it the slick, fast talking producer, Peter Monroe (Pittsburgh native Patrick Fabian of The Last Exorcism and Saved By The Bell: The College Years fame)? Could it have been Penelope Foster (Gina Torres, Firefly and Suits), the co-star who discovered Hannah was having an affair with her husband, Bob? Perhaps it was Margo Gower (Gail O’Grady, NYPD Blue and American Dreams) or her son, Stone. Or maybe it was Stone’s fiancée, Ashley, or even Mike Chilean, the dashing host of "Shark Pool", the other highly rated reality series.
And the murderer is…
…revealed at the end and I wouldn’t spoil it for you. What fun would that be?
A little under four years ago, I wondered if Castle would be a good fit for Fillion who had yet to have a successful series after the cancellations of the aforementioned cult favorite (and deservedly so) Firefly and the promising but very short lived Drive (a show I purchased on Amazon just to see the episodes that were never aired because I enjoyed the ones that I’d seen on Fox).
Even then I knew that there was no reason to wonder because Castle has been just what Fillion needed to finally showcase his natural talents to a mass audience. He’s blessed with great writers and directors and a spectacularly solid and extremely talented cast (Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Susan Sullivan, Molly Quinn, Tamala Jones, Penny Johnson-Jerald and a host of great guest stars) with whom he shares an amazing rapport. He and the rest of the cast genuinely seem to be having a wonderful time (which even spills over into tweets on Twitter) and who can blame them? Castle is arguably the most entertaining show on TV.
Over the past four years, Castle has deftly maintained a balance between the comic and dramatic, the serious and the absurd and, as I rewatch a lot of them in syndication, it’s amazing how much both the characters and storylines have evolved seamlessly. Occasionally we’re treated to special episodes (those focusing on the mystery surrounding Beckett’s mother’s murder, for example) that propel the series along and keep it fresh.
Admittedly, I was a little concerned how the “will they or won’t they” relationship between Castle and Beckett would play out as that ploy has been detrimental in past series like The X-Files (which also had Rob Bowman as a producer) and, most famously, Moonlighting.
Again, I needn’t have worried as Castle has been adept at handling their romance with aplomb. There probably isn’t a better TV couple out there right now.
If there was one thing I was disappointed about in “Reality Star Struck”, it was that Fillion and Torres weren’t able to get quality screen time together. They also had terrific chemistry and it would have been nice to feature Torres a bit more prominently as “Headhunters” did with Adam Baldwin, another Firefly co-star.
But that’s a minor quibble with an otherwise engaging episode.
I chuckled at the scene where Castle starts watching the “Wives of Wall Street” series with an air of indifference and eventually gets sucked in to the point where he’s watching it all night. God knows that’s happened to me with Real Housewives of New Jersey, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Flipping Out and a host of others!
The B story with Castle’s repeated attempts to get Beckett’s Valentine’s Day gift out of Gates’ blazer (which he mistakenly believed was Kate’s…some “gift ninja” Rick turned out to be!) was a comic gem and the payoff was just what I suspected but no less entertaining.
Castle geeking out over a Star Wars light saber as a potential gift endears him to geeks like me who appreciate odd things like that. It’s not the first time those character nuances have shown through (as both Castle’s and Beckett’s love for comic books were highlighted in a past episode) and I certainly hope it won’t be the last!