Mondays, 10pm, ABC
The cops of film and television have a storied history of solving crimes with partners who aren’t cops. They’ve patrolled the beat with mathematicians (Numb3rs), dogs (Turner and Hooch), kids (Cop and a 1/2), anthropologists (Bones) and animated bobcats (Bonkers).
On paper, at least, there’s nothing terribly special about Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) tagging along on a case. He’s a crime novelist who writes the kind of guilty pleasures you read on the beach. He’s a likable, if smarmy, jerk.
Castle also has a deranged and constantly tipsy mother (Susan Sullivan) who bears more than a passing resemblance to Arrested Development matriarch Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter). His teen daughter is of the too-sensible-for-her-years Rory Gilmore variety, probably the only one to check the batteries in the smoke detectors. His no-nonsense partner, Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), is cast from the same (undeniably lovely) mold as Mariska Hargitay.
There’s no escaping it; Castle is cookie-cutter. But don’t wrap it up in police tape just yet, because here’s the thing about cookie cutters: More often than not, they result in cookies. Which are often delicious.
Castle is just such a confection. It’s pulp, but it’s not mindless. In fact, its only real crime is that it’s familiar. There’s no real shame in reveling in its charm. And so much of that charm is due to Fillion, who hemorrhages charisma. The actor has been wooing audiences for years with swashbuckling turns in Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. And though his most recent star vehicle (Drive) crashed and burned, it never played to his strengths as a true rogue.
Castle is Fillion at his brash and hammy best as an unapologetically entertaining entertainer. Turn up your nose if you want, but keep your eyes on the screen.
In Memoriam: David Brenner