05 August 2013

DVD Set Review: "Castle": The Complete First Season

Rated: TV-PG for off-color dialogue, language, sexual scenes, and violence (US) / PG: "Not Recommended for Young Children, Violence" (Canada)
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, and Molly Quinn
Released: March 9, 2009 - May 11, 2009 (ABC premieres) / September 22, 2009 (DVD)
Synopsis: Richard "Ricky" Castle (Nathan Fillion) is a best-selling mystery writer who just killed off his most-loved character, Derrick Storm.  When NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) asks for his help on a real-life case, they end up forging a partnership of sorts.  Castle and Beckett, despite getting on each other's nerves incessantly, get assigned to cases ranging from a child abduction to the murder of a nanny to an apparent mob killing of a plastic surgeon.  They will have to work together to solve every one...but, between the smart-yet-immature NYPD guys, as well as Castle's swinging single mother (Susan Sullivan) and wise-beyond-her-years daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn), not to mention the tenuous relationship between the author and the lady detective, things are going to get crazy!

Artistic Merit: One would expect a show from a major network to be well-produced...and this one is just that.  The acting, the sets, the music, the action sequences...what's not to like in this department?  Though the whole mystery/detective thing has been done countless times before--Murder, She Wrote? Perry Mason? Monk?--it's something that doesn't really lose its appeal. (5/5)

Positive Elements: As usual for a show of this genre, murder is vilified for the sin that it is (Exodus 20:13).  Castle and Detective Beckett regularly put aside their differences to work together for the greater good.  Alexis, Castle's daughter, is the wisest character in the whole show, and even reprimands Castle for some of his own immature behaviors.  When he offers her an alcoholic beverage at a party, she declines, knowing that taking it would be illegal, since she is only fifteen years old.  Castle also risks his own life in almost a daredevil sort of way to apprehend murderers and other perpetrators.  (4/5)

Sexual Content: The TV advisory warns of off-color dialogue and sexual scenes, but we get much more of the former than the latter.  Most of the episodes have a bit of banter between Castle and Beckett, and it does veer into "PG-13" territory at times.  Still, the "Nanny McDead" episode features a case where sex is the primary reason behind the murder, and such dialogue is present throughout; also, the premiere episode features Castle autographing women's chests.  Where the "S" (for sexual scenes, that is) comes from is a scene at the opening of an episode where Castle and his ex-wife are seen having sexual relations.  That, for me, was easily the most uncomfortable moment of the entire set.  (1.75/5)

Nudity: Everyone knows that you can't show explicit nudity on a major network, right? Well, this show doesn't even test the boundaries in that department; the closest it comes to that is seeing random women--as well as Detective Beckett and Alexis once each--in low-cut and/or off-the-shoulder dresses.  (4.5/5)

Violence: It's a murder mystery show, so, one should expect violence, right? Well, Castle keeps it relatively clean in this department; though at least one person gets killed in pretty much every episode, the scenes are only slightly bloody and never gruesome or graphic.  Most of the actual violent acts are only discussed and/or implied, though one episode involves a shootout where glass breaks all around the characters.  (3.5/5)

Drugs: Alcohol is consumed throughout; as mentioned above, Castle offers his underage daughter such a beverage, which, to her credit, she refuses.  One person tries to use a drug to kill someone else, and drug testing is mentioned in most of the episodes.  (3/5)

Language: No s-words or f-words, as this was aired on a major network.  Still, h-words, a-words, d-words, and other similar terms ("friggin'") appear about two or three times per episode. (3.5/5)

Frightening/Intense Sequences: The show is meant for adults rather than kids; therefore, the aftermaths of the murders may be a bit too much for young children. (3.5/5)

Other Negative Elements: Castle plays poker--that is, to gamble--in more than one episode.  Bodily functions get referenced a few times.  The titular author also is a bit of a playboy, though Detective Beckett is able to tame him...to a degree.  (3.75/5)

Conclusion: I grew up around mysteries, so, it's no surprise that I would check out something like Castle.  Since this show originally appeared as a mid-season replacement, it would appear that its popularity is surprising to a lot of people.  It's well-made, and it doesn't resort to the kind of gruesome violence that permeates films, video games, and other TV shows these days.  Still, the sexual content makes me a bit wary about checking out the later seasons; maybe it gets toned down as the show goes on.

Score: 3.25/5

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