Castle started its second season with a case of a dead body that gets kidnapped on route to the morgue, which leads to Russian mobsters and a very scary poker game.
In case you haven't been watching, Castle is yet another police procedural where every week a man named Richard Castle solves a new murder. The show premiered as a midseason replacement in March 2009 to a warm reception and now continues with a full season into 2010.
The premise is simple. Castle is a writer, a crime novelist of a series of best-sellers about a man who similarly solves murder mysteries. For his latest book, Castle decides to shadow a female, NYPD detective named Kate Beckett. He tags along and ends up helping in her investigations. Writing for the book has undoubtingly prepared him for this duty. He's like a younger, male version of Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote.
Castle is a cocky chauvinist who, like CBS' The Mentalist or USA's Psych, isn't technically a cop but who is a whiz at solving murders. Beckett is your typical female in this cop role. She's uptight, hard and tough, but never really allows for much of a personal life. Stana Katic who plays Beckett is almost short-changed. This season, it seems as if the show will follow the mystery surrounding the murder of Beckett's mother but that will probably be few and far between.
However, as with many things about this show, I quickly lost interest. Because the show is centered on a male and female investigating crimes, the obvious comparison will be made to shows like The X-Files, Bones, or Moonlighting.
Like with those shows, the writers and producers of this series will obviously play on the sexual tension between the leads here. They already are actually, and there is sexual tension between the two.
The problem is that it's hackneyed and tired. These two are constantly at odds. Castle is brash and breezy. Beckett is methodical and careful. Their dialogue and verbal back-and-forth is always along those lines.
Castle is funny. He's witty and does out interesting if not topical quips and one-liners. There is a slight, comedic tone to this program that is different from the mainstream cop shows like CSI or Law & Order.
It's more akin to cop shows on cable TV like Psych or Monk that are more quirky and realize the environment they compete against. Therefore, this show doesn't take itself too seriously. That can be a good thing or bad thing. This time, it's a bad thing.
Unfortunately, the character of Castle gets to be a little insufferable. Nathan Fillion who plays the titular role is a terrific actor and seemingly has fun, but Castle ceases to be. Despite his relationship with his daughter, Castle's interactions become really annoying.
The murder cases are interesting. They take unlikely routes and have the requisite twists and turns. The dead body shows up at the beginning. The cops interview a series of witnesses and suspects who are dead ends. They follow breadcrumbs to a red herring and then at the climax, Castle pulls a rabbit out his hat.
These police procedurals are so formulaic and predictable. This one, while it tries to be clever, just ends up being annoying. Its glossy cinematography doesn't help either. The main character is barely likeable, and his diverse cast, including Tamala Jones, Jon Huertas, and Ruben Santiago, can't save him.
Two Stars out of Five
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC