Obsession of the Week: Castle

Based on the calendar I created for my blogging course, Fridays’ posts will be about my obsession of the week, hitherto referred to as ‘OotW’.  These digressions are devoted to the fun side of my interests, because Fridays are football nights for my family from now through Thanksgiving, and the fun stuff is easier and faster to write.

That said, I turn to the television show ‘Castle.’ Because I had seen Nathan Fillion on an late night cable showing of Waitress and enjoyed that movie a lot, I was interested in Firefly which is another obession for a different post.  When I saw he had a weekly show called Castle, I thought I’d give it a look.

They had me at ‘writer.’

If you don’t know, the premise of Castle is that a very successful mystery writer is brought in by the police when a sicko serial murderer copies the murders he describes in his books.  After that case is solved, he decides that the detective he worked with, Kate Beckett, is inspiration for a new series of books, so he follows her around getting ideas for murders and stealing dialogue.

First and foremost, the series is character driven, a quality I always admire in storytelling in any medium.  Castle comes across initially as an obnoxious, rich playboy, but early on we discover he is a devoted single dad and dutiful son.  He is truly gifted in his ability to read people and understand their motivations (don’t we all struggle to provide believable motivations for our characters?) and so he is actually a help to the police in reading nuances of behavior and thinking outside the box.  I particularly enjoy scenes where he contradicts the detectives’ solution by saying, “That’s not the way I would have written it” or “There’s always a story.”  I have often said myself that everyone has a story, and I pride myself on my ability to understand people by listening and learning their motivations for their actions.

Castle’s daughter, Alexis, is an ‘old-soul’ in what should be her difficult teenage years, but she is portrayed as often playing the parent figure.  That is something of a ruse, because as Castle’s character develops we discover that he has in fact been an attentive father.  Their interesting family is rounded out by his actress/diva mother, Martha, who lives with them and fulfills the role of mother to Alexis.  That Castle has no father is an interesting plot twist and the subject of much speculation.

On the police side of things is Beckett, a workaholic detective driven by the unsolved murder of her mother. She initially finds Castle an annoyance, then develops a respect for his instincts, and finally comes to consider him a friend.  She has a penchant for weird murders and is the go-to person for all the head scratchers, which provides Castle with lots of material for his books.  Her support team, Ryan and Esposito, are a cross between fierce friends and comic relief.  Their interactions with each other are quick-witted, real and spontaeous.  The captain in seasons 1 through 3 is Roy Montgomery, a father figure who enjoys watching Castle make Beckett squirm.  He is replaced in season 4 by a hard-as-nails female captain, Victoria ‘Iron’ Gates.  This side of the cast is rounded out by the medical examiner, Lanie Parish, who also happens to be Beckett’s best friend.

What attracts me to this show?  The same things that draw me to all of my obessions.  The characters are richly drawn with multiple layers to their personalities, including the ever-important humor.  The murders are interesting in a macabre way, such as the society matron stuffed in her safe, or the nanny crammed in a dryer in the laundry room.  This makes them more compelling to watch , and also offers me as the audience a puzzle I want to solve along with the characters.  The cast moves through every episode like a well-oiled machine, playing off of and respecting each others strengths while allowing for and covering each others weaknesses.

Those of you who know the show are looking for me to mention the kicker–the guilty pleasure that comes aside from all the legitimate criticism.  Fine, I admit it.  I am drawn to the romance that has developed between Castle and Beckett.  The actors have imbued the characters with a palpable chemistry that is extremely satisfying to watch.  There.  I said it.  I love romance.

I must say, however, that this is a show that stands on its own without the romance.  I circle back to one of the elements of fantasy fiction  that has a strong pull for me: the concept of philia.  I am drawn to and write about friends who are fiercely loyal to and defensive of each other.  Who doesn’t wish for companions who know you so well and love you in spite of your flaws? Who doesn’t hope always for people in your life who have your back?  The creators and actors have said repeatedly this summer that they can get back to the fun stuff now that the romantic love between Castle and Beckett has been acknowledged and consumated.  I am hopeful that the writers have planned some fun and interesting episodes for the coming season.

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