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The Perils in Episodic TV

10 Nov
Rick Castle 1st season episode 1

Rick Castle 1st season episode 1 – click for video

The line “quit killing my buzz“, describes a phenomenon in popular culture at a time when prior happiness or contentment, is no longer forth coming. Somewhat analogous to “bursting your bubble”. This is starting to happen for many that have been devoted fans of the TV dramedy, Castle.

Allow me to step back for a moment. I want to make sure those who read this understand, I’m a fan of the TV show, Castle. I don’t want to pretend I can write better scripts or that I know better than the combined efforts of this very talented ensemble. Contrary to that, I’m writing this as one of the loyal followers of this series, commenting with what I think and perhaps share with other fans.

Season 1 Castle & Beckett work a homicide together

Season 1 – Castle & Beckett work a homicide together – click for video

Castle returned to its much anticipated 8th season with the first two episodes primarily involving Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Suddenly thrust into peril upon receiving a call from someone connected with her past working for the Federal government. She then faces a dilemma, a dangerous covert criminal organization who killed all of her peers who she worked with at the U.S. Attorney General’s office, might now go after anyone in her personal life. She decides the only way to protect Castle, is to separate, and act as though she’s no longer married to him

The dilemma the faithful Castle follower now has to face, how long can the complicated sub-plot, be woven into the season? It took 7 seasons, of on and off relationships with other people, before the writers led us to where Rick and Kate get married. It took 81 episodes, the end of the 4th season where the two of them could unleash their full passion for each other. Now they ask us to set aside all that momentum, all of those episodes where Kate learns Rick is much more than a writer or a serial womanizer, learned to trust his offbeat methods to arrive at case closure. Now, we have to set all that aside to allow time for the writers to bring them back together.

Rick Castle & Kate Beckett tie the knot in the 7th season.

Rick Castle & Kate Beckett tie the knot in season 7 – click for video.

Perhaps, in the end, we’ll be grateful for these plot twists and turns and be ever so happy they didn’t follow a somewhat more predictable arc. Right now, it feels disingenuous, contrived and we’re left to wonder, is this truly a way of creating a freshness to the series or the beginning of the end? Here’s where I’m ponderng how effective this is if you want a full 8th season or perhaps a 9th?

This is how I believe a series gets started and perhaps too, where it jumps the shark. A series like Castle, comes along very rarely, where the cast and crew seem to be making lightning in a bottle. They gather an audience with clever scripts, good acting and consistency. This gains a market share, but knowing how fickle an audience can be, the writers and the cast want to play with it, adjust it, derive different story arcs and either maintain or perhaps grow an audience. This isn’t easy to do, if it were, there would be a lot more successful TV shows.

I think Castle found it’s target audience, attempted to maintain it, but plateaued. Castle and Beckett have been the central focus and their relationship, ie. clever banter between each other, gave this series a spice that differs from most other procedurals. The Mentalist, a crime procedural series featuring two co-stars, struggled through relationship issues, also lost it’s footing for awhile, and ended last year.

Stana Katic may have been the surprise in this ensemble. Clearly she has a major role, promoted to Captain. Many of us are not all that impressed with her lack of screen time.  After the 1st season season of Castle, the fans found out, this lady can act, and is perfect opposite Nathan Fillion!

Castle & Beckett disarming a bomb in NY together

Castle & Beckett disarming a bomb in NY together – click for video

Kate Beckett starts out as a woman driven by the murder of her mother, motivating her to switch from an interest in law school to becoming a police detective. Nathan Fillion proved prior to this series, he was a leading man, but who knew he had this great comic timing and have great on screen chemistry with his co-star, Stana Katic? Over time, their story of meeting and working together, he as a gifted crime novelist, she as a police New York homicide detective, really worked. The who done it elements of the show were incidental to their clever interactions. The serial story of her coming out of her morose shell, and his toning down his playboy image to fall in love with each other, was what the fans liked, and couldn’t get enough.

BAM came the eighth season! There are ups and downs in any type of relationship, but this season changed things from what was previously successful. Gone were those magic moments of interaction between Castle & Beckett. Beckett’s total screen time has been greatly reduced, without any real interactions with her personal friend, Dr. Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones). We also lost a strong character from prior seasons 4-7, Captain Victoria Gates (Penny Johnson Jerald). Stana’s screen time, and Penny’s absence have now been replaced by a couple of new people. They have yet to click with me as solid replacements, and the Beckett & Castle romantic drift apart, have left me as well as others wondering, when or how will these two get back together?

Castle lined up with 12th Precinct detectives Ryan, Esposito, & Beckett.

Castle lined up with 12th Precinct detectives Ryan, Esposito, & Beckett.

I’ve noticed Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion have producer credits, which suggests a strong buy in from these two actors.

I just hope they can also re-bottle the magic before the series loses out in the ratings race.

Castle series to adopt extended winter break plan. Last episode will air Nov. 23 & resume early February 2016.

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Where did this show jump the shark? This awkward writing phase began at the end of season 6. Beckett and Castle had to find the spouse of Beckett to obtain a consensual divorce, with whom she got married as a lark many years before in Las Vegas. Then the CIA crashed Castle’s car on his wedding day, to bring him to Thailand to help calm a jittery old prep school acquaintance. Supposedly he could only trust Castle, with whom he would work to “save the world from a major terrorist plot”. The CIA did something to give Castle amnesia, but before he acquires a greater degree of ineptitude and childish behavior, as later in season 8, he successfully pieces his memory fragments back together, sufficient to help take down one of the terrorist conspirators.

Rick Castle 8th seasonSeason 8, requires more suspended reality when Beckett leaves Castle to take down a drug lord who caused the deaths of an AG team, where she had a very brief tenure. We have to believe there isn’t a federal agency with sufficient capability to do this and that only our intrepid NYC police captain can go after and bring these gangsters to justice? (This causes a rip in the space time continuum ~ well it seems this far fetched). She finds her only way to protect Rick & family is to create distance both physical and emotional.

We must assume Beckett can’t work with other federal or local law enforcement to capture or kill these criminals. This means her promotion to a leader of the 12th precinct as Captain was premature at best and somehow, through superhuman efforts, she will finish the job, and return to Castle. Then again, perhaps not, because the new show runners want to keep us in suspense by having place holder scripts, with Rick Castle behaving almost like a team member of the Bowery Boys. Maybe to end the season, they will kill Beckett, who knows? How many fans will be around by then?

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Posted by on 10/11/2015 in Comedy, Crime Drama, Entertainment, Plot, Television

 

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