Paul Asay

TV Series Review

You’d think fiction writers would spend most of their time sitting around … writing. Not Richard Castle. He’s too busy leading a life of semi-comedic glamour and gritty adventure.

He has his reasons, of course. In order to shake off a wicked case of writer’s block, he’s finagled his way into an informal partnership with beautiful New York City detective Kate Beckett. He’s researching his next book, he says. But really he’s fighting crime while bantering with his clever teenage daughter and schmoozing on the book-signing and talk show circuits.

It’s practically a given that Castle and Beckett will eventually become romantically (and perhaps physically) entwined. But for now, the two settle for exchanging snide comments and charging up the onscreen chemistry meter. Oh, and they solve a new crime each week, too.

Is it, as Castle says, a “whole new chapter in crime fighting?” Well, no. We’ve seen variations on this theme for the last 30 or so years, from Hart to Hart and Moonlighting to The X-Files. And while Castle is somewhat less offensive than various other crime-based television programs, it still has its share of problems. The banter can be suggestive, sometimes tawdry. Profanity can be an issue too.

Episode Reviews

Castle: 1252011

Castle and Beckett find themselves handcuffed together and trapped in an über-creepy cellar. A freezer full of bloodstained knives and chains, and a truck smeared with hair and blood make it look as if they’ve stumbled into a  Saw sequel. But true to Castle’s more lighthearted ethos, the nightmarish scenario winds up being an exotic animal-smuggling operation—the blood and the knives simply the tools and remnants of the animals’ mealtimes. In the process, though, the pair nearly become tiger dinner themselves. And we do briefly see a dead body, both in person and in photos: The corpse isn’t bloody, but we see that the man’s fingertips have been burned. Guns are pointed. Castle makes suggestive quips related to the cuffs and to the couples’ forced proximity. While trying to escape, the two contort into uncomfortable positions, including one that mimics a sex act. Castle lifts up Beckett’s shirt (to examine a needle mark on her back). There’s a reference to drug use. “H‑‑‑” pop out more than a half-dozen times, along with “d‑‑n,” “a‑‑” and a few misuses of God’s name.

Castle: 4192010

“Den of Thieves” Castle and Beckett attempt to solve a murder that was, apparently, committed by a dead man. Turns out, the guy who supposedly did it is still alive and he’s a one-time detective who’s working freelance to bust a notorious crime boss—to clear his own sullied name. That’s OK, we’d say. But to tie things up by episode’s end, the “good guys” break into a bad guy’s office, steal stuff and lie to pretty much everyone. We see a burnt and bloody corpse duct-taped inside a car with jumper cables attached to the body. Beckett and Castle believe the man died during a torture session gone awry. Beckett and another detective spar with each other in the gym—a sporting contest both mildly violent and sexually charged (when they pin each other to the gym mats). Castle teaches his daughter to play poker, and the two of them “win” such things as new sunglasses and exemptions from doing dishes and making beds. Characters misuse God’s name, as well as “h‑‑‑,” “d‑‑n,” “b‑‑tard” and the initials “BS.”

Castle: 4122010

“The Late Shaft” A late-night talk show host dies from a heart attack that turns out to be murder. Who did it? That’s what Castle wants to uncover—but only between romps under the covers with a beautiful young actress. Castle and said actress lustily grapple with each other twice (“Gotta get some new shirts,” he says as she rips another one off his torso) and lounge around in revealing clothes (he’s shirtless, she’s in lingerie). The actress, naturally, is just using Castle. We learn she’s simultaneously sleeping with a network exec to land a part in a sitcom. But Castle doesn’t seem to mind too much. After the ruse is revealed, he and the actress part as friends: “I’ve never had so much fun being used,” he tells her. Along with the words “b‑‑ch,” “h‑‑‑”, “d‑‑n” and “a‑‑,” we hear jokes about marriage and fidelity and references to sex and something called “booty roulette.” A lewd, rather explicit one-liner flies at Tiger Woods’ expense. It’s discovered that the talk show host is having an affair with an intern a third his age. Referring to a fancy sports car, somebody blurts out “holy shift.” We see a corpse on an autopsy table.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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