Castle: The Complete First Season Review
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This past season, hour-long TV dramas seemed to keep dropping like flies. While I kept losing some of my favorite shows, though, one mid-season addition managed to help me through my mourning: ABC’s clever crime series, Castle.

As the series opens, Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) finds herself investigating a series of murders that mirror those found on the pages of the novels written by best-selling author Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion). Having just killed off his beloved hero, Castle is suffering from writer’s block—so, with nothing better to do, he gets involved in the case.

As he works with Beckett, offering his own unusual (and usually unwelcome) perspective, Castle realizes that the beautiful young detective is just what he needs to overcome his block—so he pulls some strings and gets permission to follow along with Beckett and her team while he researches his next series.

At first glance, Castle may seem like the average, run-of-the-mill procedural. After all, each episode revolves around a murder case (or, in one of the first season’s episodes, a kidnapping). But these aren’t the typical gritty, Law & Order-style TV murders. They’re strange and gruesome…and oddly creative. There are ritualistic killings, frozen corpses, and rich women stuffed in wall safes. The mysteries are unusual and unexpected—and the writing is fresh and entertaining.

Meanwhile, crime writer Castle adds a brilliant twist to the same old procedural. As Beckett and her colleagues try to solve each murder cop-style, Castle comes at each case with a completely different perspective. As a crime novelist, he’s had to delve into the details of murder in a way that Beckett never has. He’s attempted to climb inside the mind of a killer—to figure out the motive, to plan each step of the crime. While his theories aren’t always right—and, throughout the first season, he discovers that real life isn’t always as neat as fiction—he does bring something new to each case with his interesting point of view. And it doesn’t hurt that he has all kinds of crazy connections—from mobsters to politicians to jewel thieves.

But what really makes Castle worth watching is its cast of likeable characters. When it comes to character development, most crime dramas offer the bare minimum—but not Castle. Instead, Castle focuses on the characters—on their personalities, their quirks, and (most importantly) their relationships. Along the way, you’ll get to know them—and even their families. And you’ll keep watching episode after episode because of the characters—not the crimes.

As for the cast, Katic gives the series depth and drama as the serious control freak Beckett. But Fillion shines as the cocky novelist. He’s slick and cheesy—but that’s what makes him so much fun to watch. It also gives the series its ongoing conflict—because the love-hate relationship between Castle and Beckett keeps things interesting.

So if you’re love a good mystery and you’re looking for a fresh take on the same old crime drama, give Castle a try. It’s a smart and entertaining series that’s a must-see for mystery readers.

DVD Review:
The three-disc DVD release of Castle: The Complete First Season includes all 10 first-season episodes, along with a handful of extras—like a couple of different audio commentaries for the tenth episode (“A Death in the Family”) and the standard blooper reel.

The set also includes Write-Along with Nathan Fillion, a silly short featurette, in which the Castle star attempts to discover what it’s like to be a writer by following TV writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell (The Rockford Files, The A-Team) for the day. Cannell also gets his own feature, Castle’s Godfather, in which Castle creator Andrew Marlowe discusses Cannell’s influence on him as a kid—and executive producer Rob Bowman discusses how Cannell gave him his first break in TV. And, finally, there’s Whodunit: The Genesis of Castle, a short making-of feature that introduces fans to the show’s creators and allows the cast to talk about their characters, their relationships, and their favorite moments from the show’s first season.

Since Castle premiered mid-season and ran for just 10 episodes before the summer break, it’s no surprise that the set offers just a handful of short extras. Still, fans of this fun new series will want to take a quick look at Whodunit—and you’re sure to get a laugh or two out of the blooper reel, too. Then watch just the first couple of minutes of Write-Along (before it gets unbearably silly) and call it good.

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