Castle: The Complete Fourth Season Review
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Usually, end-of-season add-on shows are simply thrown in to fill the void left by some other show that couldn’t survive the season. No one really expects them to make it past a few episodes. They’re just there until something better comes along. But ABC’s Castle has stood the test of time, quickly going from late-season filler to must-see TV.

The show’s fourth season doesn’t waste any time before diving right into the action and drama. Three months after NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is shot, she’s ready to get back to work. But while she puts up a good front, she’s secretly intent on following the paper trail that seems to lead from her mom’s murder to the sniper who almost took Beckett’s own life.

Meanwhile, mystery novelist and NYPD associate Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is contacted by a mysterious man who warns him to keep Beckett off the case—because if she digs for more information, she’s sure to be killed.

Of course, each episode also features an unconventional murder case, along with plenty of other ongoing storylines. Throughout the season, Castle’s daughter, Alexis (Molly C. Quinn), struggles to find the right college, and the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Beckett and Castle continues to build.

With its unusual mysteries and its ongoing drama, Castle is so much more than just another police procedural. While the cases are often clever—and it’s fun to play armchair detective while trying to solve each episode’s mystery—the characters keep viewers coming back for more. Castle and Beckett are the perfect opposites: the fun-loving crime novelist and the tough-as-nails detective. And Katic and Fillion have an easy-going chemistry that works remarkably well. Once again this season, Fillion’s Castle is as entertaining as ever—but both he and Katic’s Beckett get to go a little deeper, showing sides of their personalities that audiences haven’t really seen before. Throw in a supporting cast of regulars—from Castle’s lovable family members to Detectives Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas)—and you’ve got a lovable (and well-rounded) bunch.

There are, however, a few casting changes this season. In addition to a number of recurring characters and guest appearances, Penny Johnson joins the cast as the new boss, Captain Victoria “Iron” Gates, a by-the-book kind of leader who resents Castle and everything he represents. While her demanding demeanor is an interesting contrast to Castle’s loosey-goosey style, she doesn’t really fit—and her presence in the department often feels awkward and unnatural.

Meanwhile, though the series got stuck in a formulaic rut in its third season, the fourth season changes things up, throwing in plenty of fun surprises—from a superhero-themed episode to a pulpy, noir-style whodunit to a Scooby-Doo-like haunting. The same old formulas have been thrown out the window as the cases are often quirkier and more creative than ever before. At the same time, though, there’s also plenty of drama—especially as it relates to Kate’s ongoing recovery and her quest to figure out who’s responsible for both her mother’s death and her own shooting. So while it’s definitely full of fun, this season is also an emotional one—and it closes with even more surprises that are sure to have a major impact on the show’s fifth season.

Once again, the fourth season of Castle provides fans with episode after episode of murder, mayhem, and mystery novels. Even if you lost interest during the third season, give the show another try. Once you do, you’ll be eager to see where the show’s fifth season takes this dazzling duo.

DVD Review:
You’ll find even more fun with the cast of Castle on the season’s five-disc DVD release. The set’s special features include the usual deleted scenes and audio commentary tracks, along with a few behind-the-scenes extras. Submerged takes a look at the stunts involved in making the season’s two-part episode, and Bowman, Bowman, and Castle introduces executive producer Rob Bowman’s dad, Chuck, who directed the ‘40s-themed episode.

For something a little different, though, there’s Fillion and Friends: Castle Goes Radio, which shows fun-loving Fillion and on-screen daughter Molly Quinn as they prepare for and participate in The Thrilling Adventure Hour, a clever podcast that’s performed in the style of old-time radio (and recorded in front of a live audience).

And, of course, there’s also a wacky blooper reel, which features screw-ups and silliness, as well as cast members cursing and kissing.

Like the show itself, the DVD release of Castle’s fourth season is filled with fun stuff. While the behind-the-scenes features are interesting, though, I recommend starting with the bloopers. After all, it’s the characters that make the show fun—and the blooper reel definitely has plenty of character. Then, if you have more time, check out The Thrilling Adventure Hour.

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