CASTLE: Nanny McDead - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CASTLE: Nanny McDead

March 17, 2009 by  

On paper, “Castle” has the ingredients of being the next big cop procedural hit. The characters are interesting, at least title character Richard Castle is, and the murders are, for the most part, interesting and unconventional. What works well for “Castle” on paper, however, doesn’t translate quite as strongly – as one would hope – to the small screen. That’s what happened in the series premiere last week when Castle (brilliantly played by Nathan Fillion) and his foil Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) were forced to color in between the lines and recite stale, cliché lines.

While Fillion displayed a knack for sinking into character (or is it the fact that Castle isn’t too far removed from the everyday Fillion?), Katic struggled to counter Castle’s egotistical charm and wit without seeming too stuck-up or devoid of all emotion. What didn’t help was the lack of consistency in the show’s tone that often went from light-hearted gaudiness to a heavy sense of deliberate profundity so as not to come off as a “trashy mystery charmer” as Castle and his books frankly are.

Fortunately, last night’s episode where a nanny is found inside a machine in the laundry room showed a vast improvement in the show’s tonal elements, character developments and even the way the murder mystery unfolded – with several twists and turns, some predictable and some not. By the end of the pilot, it is revealed that Castle will now be shadowing Beckett on all her cases as research for his next book. Now the ploy may be intentional (let’s be serious here, there was no way the show could have gone forward by focusing on murders that were taken out of Castle’s books nor could the police department employ him as a consultant without ample reason) to keep the story going, but it works, as predictable as it may be.

When Beckett gets the call that they found the body of a young woman stashed into a laundry machine, Castle meets her halfway, butting in as much as possible on every aspect of the investigation including interrogations between two sets of families, an ex-boyfriend and a jealous best friend (played by the talented Sarah Drew). Displaying his talent at taking a morbid murder and making it into an affable plotline for a novel, Castle charms Beckett’s team by using facts and probable motives of the murderer to dramatize an otherwise typical case. The question I have here is this: During Castle’s semi-serious psychoanalysis of the killer, how does he know so much about a person’s psychological welfare? Is it the observational skills he’s racked up as a writer or did he study up in college? The answer remains unclear, for now at least.

To shorten the complicated love quadrangle that emerges during the course of the episode that plays a vital role in the killer’s reveal, which ends up being the victim’s best friend Chloe Richardson (Drew), it is revealed at the end that the victim, Sara, is having an affair with the father, Ian, of the daughter Chloe watches. Chloe hears rumors that someone else is seeing Ian, while she is sleeping with him, so she decides to go up to the apartment one afternoon to see if the rumors are true. Lo and behold, everything begins to go array when her suspicions were proven to be accurate and she goes down to the laundry room where Sara is minutes later to confront her about it. Things get heated and before you know it, Sara’s body is stuffed into the laundry machine. Confused yet? The fact that there was another family involved and Sara’s former lover was at one brief moment a suspect illustrates just how complicated yet surprisingly understandable the plot points were in the murder mystery half of the episode.

While the murder offered the chance to see the working relationship between Castle and Beckett, the confrontation scene in the end with Beckett trying to calm Chloe down in the laundry room, was pivotal for Castle’s growth as a pseudo detective and for viewers to see that Beckett wasn’t just a pretty cardboard cut-out. The relationships between characters were perhaps the most integral part of the episode, and some of the most enjoyable scenes had nothing to do with Beckett. Castle’s unique relationships with his wise-beyond-her-years teenage daughter and his daytime soaps-loving mother (appropriate that Fillion made a shout-out to “One Life to Live”) are a welcomed departure from his fleeting charm and expected flash of calculated brilliance.

What is interesting about the show, and what makes it work more so in this episode than in the pilot, is the breadth of knowledge and expertise Castle has in the literary world. He’s such a big time hotshot in publishing that he even plays poker with an auteur like James Patterson (see pilot), but when it comes to crime-solving and investigating for clues, he is clueless, no matter how hard he tries to communicate otherwise. During an interrogation scene at the police department, Beckett tells Sara’s ex-boyfriend not to leave town though she has no probable cause. When Castle questions her about that with boyish naïveté, and she reaffirms his original thought, he says in a childlike manner, “You can lie like that? That’s so cool.” and continues to jot down in his small black notebook.

And Castle’s original intention to follow Beckett around might have been for inspiration for his next novel (and names the title character Nikki Heat after Beckett), his unyielding curiosity is what does him in. He might still be learning the ways of police procedure and protocol, but Castle offers a refreshing take and perspective on each case. Maybe he’ll even learn that not everything can be condensed into a three-paragraph teaser on the back cover of a book.

Now that the second episode has aired, what are your thoughts on what transpired? Was the murder too convoluted or was it perfectly executed? Were you satisfied by the improvement in the Castle-Beckett pairing or are you still reserving judgment for the next episode? What are your thoughts on Castle’s background; did it make you want to find out more about his previous family arrangements? It’s only the second episode so there’s still time for improvement, but what parts of the show work and which ones still need work?

Philiana Ng is a senior majoring in communication and music industry at the University of Southern California. She currently interns at Reveille, LLC in Universal City. In addition to “Castle,” she also covers “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for GMMR. She is betting on “Kings” and “Better Off Ted” as midseason winners.


13 Responses to “CASTLE: Nanny McDead”

  1. Kimber on March 17th, 2009 9:06 am

    I, for one, am really enjoying Castle. With the loss of Pushing Daisies, and the seeming “disappearance” of newer shows like Fringe, I was primed to pick up a new season love – and Castle is it! I love Nathan Fillion, though I really only know him as Captain Hammer, and I’m really growing to love Stana Katic as well. I find the show fast-paced, interesting, and always entertaining. Last night’s episode was fantastic, and even better than the pilot, which is saying a lot since I thoroughly enjoyed the pilot. It’s been a while since a show has “flown by” during the airing hour for me, and Castle seems to be that show. I’m enjoying it so much that the hour seems to go by quickly, and I’m left wanting more.

    I think Stana Katic, as Beckett, is really holding her own, and I’m curious to see where her character goes, and where the relationship with Castle goes as well. The two stars have amazing chemistry, as do the characters, and are a joy to watch on screen together. I find myself laughing out loud several times, mostly at Castle’s quick jabs at Beckett, or the looks Beckett gives him.

    Overall, this show is working on a solid basis for me, and I find myself looking forward to Mondays now even more, for both Chuck and Castle (“my two Cs”). I’m so glad that someone is covering Castle on GMMR, so thanks for the awesome recap, Philiana!

  2. P D Yerf on March 17th, 2009 9:42 am

    Though I found the pilot a much funnier episode (my friend and I laughed out loud at least four times before the first commercial break, a rarity for us) I do like the direction in which this show is going. Nathan Fillion continues to show us all how brilliant he is (this man deserves eternal employment I swear), but as I realized last night, my favorite parts of this show aren’t the onces having to to with Beckett or the murder itself but in the family scenes where there is the semi-cliche but incredibly entertaining and well written/played daughter-mothers-father-mothers-grandmother. The young woman playing Castle’s daughter is aces all around, and though truth be told I really am sick of new police crime shows this one is a worthy addition both to the genre and television itself, at least so far. Plus ABC is pushing it hard so it’s likely to stick around. Though not worth losing Pushing Daisies for, this show makes me happy all the same 🙂

  3. SB on March 17th, 2009 10:07 am

    I’m liking it … not loving it, maybe, but I love Nathan Fillion enough to make up for the rest, and his scenes with the daughter are awesome. And if this is any indication, the show is good at casting guest stars. I sort of hope they don’t stick with the formula of red herring, red herring, red herring, red herring BAM find the killer and explain everything at the end. The elevator part was nice, though–how he noticed the time difference.

  4. Raked on March 17th, 2009 11:05 am

    I’m enjoying Nathan Fillion, especially in the moments around his daughter. But beyond that, we have stale, cardboard characters; terrible writing; and boring storylines that are trying as hard as they can to not be stale and predictable, so much so that they just make no sense in the end. I probably won’t be back for more unless it’s background noise while I clean the bathroom.

  5. Becky on March 17th, 2009 11:19 am

    i’m really enjoying it. I’m really enjoying him – he is just adorable. But i find the show to be very entertaining. I’ll definitely be sticking around

  6. Wince on March 17th, 2009 12:00 pm

    Yea we’re digging this show to. We dont usually watch the LO, CSI ect. The last murder investigation show we watched was PD so hopefully this one will stick.

  7. bubblewrap on March 17th, 2009 12:41 pm

    I’m really enjoying the show so far. At first I thought the mystery aspect/cases would take a backseat but I was pleasantly surprised last night. I can’t wait to see more episodes!

  8. Patty on March 17th, 2009 12:41 pm

    I enjoyed this episode much better than the pilot. I liked that every time I thought I knew who did it, it changed. I felt like Nick.

    Nick Castle is at his best with his daughter and the scenes with her are great. I like that he has a smart daughter and he is proud that he raised her.

    I’ll keep watching.

  9. seeleybaby on March 17th, 2009 1:54 pm

    I haven’t watched this episode yet, but I wanted to check out your review first. I liked the pilot mostly, and I agree with your opinions. I’m glad to know you liked this epi better.

  10. anne on March 17th, 2009 2:38 pm

    I’m liking it so far – well enough to keep watching, at least. They need to develop Beckett more, but so far the hints are interesting. The best part of last night’s ep, in my opinion, was Castle spinning out the hypothetical murder by the tenant in 8B – that was something interesting and different and sort of changed the dynamic in a way. I’m definitely going to need to see improvement, though – I don’t think it’ll be able to hold my attention as is.

  11. Kristina on March 17th, 2009 4:11 pm

    I’ve been enjoying Castle; not only for Nathan Fillion (though I do heart him) but the plot/storylines have been interesting enough to capture my attention. Hope it just gets better and better (and that it is given a fair chance before the plug gets pulled….unlike Pushing Daisies).

  12. Give Me My Remote on March 17th, 2009 4:22 pm

    Thrilled to see the response for CASTLE! Here’s to hoping we can create a great discussion every week.

    Since I was Miss Naysayer last week, I thought I should jump in and say I liked this week’s episode a lot more. The banter, while still driven from Fillion, was much more balanced.

    The funny dialogue was actually pretty sharp but I still think the writers should do a once over of the final script to make sure they’ve eliminated the cliches. It really detracts from the show.

    There are still a lot of flaws to be worked out. I find it a bit too convenient that Castle has this much access based on his need to write a book. He’s in the interrogation room..what?! Some of it just is way too over the top.

    As others have mentioned, I like the dynamic between Richard and his daughter and I’m interested in seeing more of their back story.

    Better than last week, but if it didn’t have Nathan Fillion it wouldn’t be enough to keep me…as is.

  13. Lynzee on March 17th, 2009 7:54 pm

    I was skeptical. Though I ADORE Nathan… I thought it was just another cookie-cutter crime show with a gorgeous uptight play by the books cop vs. a free-wheeling, also gorgeous, rebel type (can we say Mentalist?) But as soon as I heard Nathan deliver “TELL ME YOU SAW THAT!” in the pilot, I did a spit take. I’m in.

    Here’s to hoping the show finds its legs and keeps on running!