No Brothers and Sisters last night on ABC. Instead, I was treated to the first half of a very special two-part edition of the mystery/romantic comedy Castle, which I had yet to check out. Apparently, the numbers for the show have been slowly creeping upwards in its regular Monday night slot (and will no doubt be aided even more now that Dancing with the Stars has returned as its lead-in), and ABC is pushing it like crazy. So I decided to give it a shot
Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) is a famous, good-looking mystery writer who’s shadowing the also good-looking-but-plays-it-down-because-she’s-ever-so-serious Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Castle is planning to create a series of mystery books based on Beckett. Somehow, this premise is more than enough to grant Castle full access to murder scenes, evidence and weapons. Oh, and by the way… He’s cocky and inappropriate… She’s hard-boiled and by the book… in case you were wondering why you should even bother.
Within three minutes, Corpse Number One turns up in a pay phone booth. Where do they still have pay phone booths? Even my mom laughs, points, and makes snooty comments whenever she sees one still around. Castle and Beckett arrive on the scene.
Enter Dr. Lanie Parish, a sassy forensic examiner who rolls her eyes at the obvious attraction between Castle and Beckett that no one else seems to notice. Beckett is slightly un-nerved. Not only did the killer call her ahead of time to announce the murder, but he actually seemed to be doing it … for fun!
Time for the B-Story. Castle has a daughter and a mother. And guess what? They have lives of their own that complicate Castle’s day. Mother (Susan Sullivan) has been asked to move in with some guy named Chet she’s recently been dating. Mother frets and shows off her pro/con list. Will she take the jump? If you bend over to tie your sneaker, you’ll miss this story line completely.
Back to the A-story. And guess what? During her forensic examination, Dr. Lanie has found something unbelievable! The five bullets in the body are inscirbed with letters. Beckett determines (rather quickly I’d say) that the letters spell the word “NIKKI.” Holy smokes! NIKKI HEAT, the fictional character being written by Castle and based on Beckett! The killer has dedicated the murder… to Beckett! Duhn-duhn-duuuh! (I don’t know how to spell that, but you get the point, right?).
Cue another call from the killer! Hey, there’s another token of his affection to “Nikki” waiting on a carousel across town. Sure enough… there’s an abandoned carousel that is somehow mysteriously running when Castle and Beckett show up. Finale from Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train anyone? There’s nothing creepier than a carousel that is running with seemingly no one there operating it… ooooooooooooh! …. and somehow the tune that it’s playing has been morphed into a disturbingly demented minor key. Wow, this killer is talented. Think of the giant checklist he/she must have had to compose:
- Arrive at carousel with microphone
- Record original “cheery” version of carousel music into microphone
- Upload music into Garage Band
- Change key of music, slow down tempo, add creepy sound effects
- Kill a woman
- Plant dead woman at carousel
- Re-program carousel music
- Turn carousel on
- Run away
- Make call to Detective Beckett
- Get butter
Enter Dana Delany… special guest star! She’s “Special Agent Jordan Shaw.” Uh-oh! She’s also hard-boiled and by-the-book, so clearly she and Beckett are on their way to locking horns. Jordan Shaw is all business… she’s here to catch a killer, not make friends.
Oh, Dana, your time on Wisteria Lane is ending and you need to show your versatility for pilot season. We forgive you. You’re a really good actress. In fact, you’re too good to have your character named “Jordan Shaw.” That’s the kind of ridiculous name you give the character when your special guest star is Marla Maples or Tiffani Thiessen. But Dana Delany has an Emmy, for God’s sake, so I’ll buy into any character she plays. Hell, she could be named “Special Agent Effie Hemorrhoid,” and I wouldn’t blink.
Lots of techno FBI gadgets and mumbo-jumbo. Castle’s kinda into Dana Delany. Hmmm. Beckett’s being a bit sidelined, and I can’t imagine she’s all too happy about it.
A pinky finger print is found… a match is made! “Let’s round up!” commands Dana Delany, and off they go to… who the hell knows where they’re going… but they get there fast. When they arrive, Dana, ever the professional, takes some time from the serial killer investigation to ask Beckett how long she and Castle have been sleeping together. Beckett is incredulous, but Dana insists she has been profiling people for so long, she’s always right. Beckett does a lot of “uh… uh… uh… you couldn’t be more… uh… wrong!”
The suspect arrives at his front door with groceries. Seven-hundred and eighty-five guys all wearing jackets that say “FBI” in giant yellow letters arrive from nowhere, but Dana Delany still feels the need to scream out… “Stop! FBI!!!!!” Something tells me this isn’t the guy they really want. What do you think?
Now it’s time for Sally Field in a commercial for osteoporosis-battling Boniva. I guess it’s the next best thing to seeing her in an actual episode of Brothers and Sisters, which I really enjoy.
“Don’t take Boniva if you can’t sit or stand for at least one hour.” What!? If you can’t sit or stand for at least an hour, what the hell are you doing… and isn’t osteoporosis the least of your problems? I need another drink.
Ok… turns out the dude with the grocery bags actually sold his pinky finger to the killer for five thousand dollars. Would you sell your pinky for five thousand dollars? I would. What the hell good is my pinky anyway? Is there any reason I can’t live without it? Are there pinky finger ads on Craigslist right now? Is the five thousand tax free???? Hell, gimme that money. I’ll drill the pool water out of my ear with my thumb!
Dana Delany returns for more techno mumbo-jumbo. Everyone somehow determines that the killer is planning to murder someone else before midnight tonight. Now, we’re also racing against the clock. This show is making all the right moves, but there’s zip in the way of character development. I know, I know… the Law and Order and CSI franchises have made great successes out of procedural stroytelling with no development for its regular characters, but Nathan Fillion clearly has charm, and he finds moments here and there to show it off, but the prodcers of this show don’t seem to be biting. So instead it’s a lot of… crime scene… talky talky… crime scene… run down an alley… yell loudly… point a gun… talky talky… sexual tension… Sally Field… osteoporosis… hi ho the merry-o the farmer takes a wife. Hang on. I need another drink.
Somehow, Scooby, Shaggy and the gang have determined that the killer has suddenly changed his/her m.o. Clearly, I’m not paying enough attention because I can’t even remember what the killer’s original m.o. was. Beckett is going to put her people on it. Phuh! Dana “Special Agent Jordan Shaw” Delany already has her people on it. Oooooo! They almost locked horns, but it didn’t happen… yet.
Hello! Back to the B-story… and suddenly I’m intrigued. The Castle producers were cool enough to snag some footage of a younger Susan Sullivan on an episode of The Incredible Hulk with Lou Ferrigno, so I gather the character she’s playing is an actress, which means if I keep watching, I could be met up with clips from It’s a Liviing, Falcon Crest and maybe even the short-lived family/political drama The Monroes (“The one thing they can’t control… is EACH OTHER!”). Susan Sullivan still hasn’t decided if she’s going to move in with Chet. I’ve always loved Susan Sullivan. Castle confides to her he’s worried he’s put Beckett “in harm’s way.”
Cut to Beckett alone at home late at night eating Chinese (why is it always Chinese? Just once, I’d like to see a professional “gal on the go” type wolf down a plate of White Castle cheeseburgers and a mai tai when she’s kicking it at home). Castle shows up to check in on her. Time for a heart-to-heart with the required glasses of red wine and tender music. Castle and Beckett are two steps away from breaking out their high school yearbooks and showing all their embarrassing photos from the Debate Squad. Beckett is jealous of Dana Delany. She makes that clear. Castle vows to protect Beckett – he’s staying the night! Duhn-duhn-duuuh! (in a whole different way than I meant earlier).
Morning breaks… no hanky panky. Beckett arises, Castle opens the front door to grab the morning paper, and… A DEAD BODY tumbles into the living room instead! Wow… that paperboy totally earned his two dollars!
Okay… more proceudral. There’s a dead body, so EVERYONE has been called to the scene, and EVERYONE thinks that Castle and Beckett got it on….”uh… uh… uh… nothing… uh… happened!”
Traces of embalming fluid plus animal hair equals a TAXIDERMIST! “Gotcha, you son of a bitch!” exclaims Dana Delany. I love Dana Delany. I’ll forgive her for just about anything, even having to say the line, “Gotcha, you son of a bitch!”
Okay, also, we suddenly learn OUT OF NOWHERE that Dana Delany’s character has a kid. Will this come into play later? Gee, I wonder.
UPDATE! Our killer is named “Ben.” Beckett and Castle are outside his apartment. He’s got a gun. The three-hundred FBI agents are going up the stairs, proudly showing off those yellow-“FBI” jackets. But suspect Ben wastes himself before they can get in… and yet… we know this is a two-parter, so what is still to come? I can’t imagine we’re just hanging on to see if Susan Sullivan moves in with Chet and hosts an Incredible Hulk marathon.
Oh my.. “Ben” was building a detonator. Questions????
Dana Delany smells a rat. “Ben” doesn’t have the profile that would lead to suicide. More Questions????
Susan Sullivan has decided to pack up and move in with Chet. “Can you give me a hand?” she innocently asks.
“A hand“… Castle has figured something out. “Ben” killed himself with his right hand, but the killer was already known to be left-handed. Is Beckett safe? Where is Beckett?
Oh, thank god… Beckett is perfectly safe… at home… in the shower… alone.
Oh no! KAH-boom. No conclusion. I forgot, it’s a two-parter. I’m not all that impressed with this show yet, but who knows what twists and turns are waiting for us all tonight. Will the gang catch the killer? Will the killer drop his next body off at an abandoned bouncy house? Will Beckett survive her apartment exploding? Will she get her deposit back? The conclusion airs tonight right after DWTS