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TV Review: Castle – “The Late Shaft”

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As a bestselling mystery writer, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) has a pretty good idea of just how to make sure people continue to purchase his novels. He's charming, which helps. In the looks department, others are drawn to him for one reason or another. Perhaps the biggest reason is just how dedicated he is to the craft of putting pen to paper. Considering he writes about crime on a regular basis, he has enough common sense to be named as a consultant to the New York Police Department.

Working with Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), Castle gets a solid working knowledge of how to write his cop characters effectively. In return, he offers a fresh perspective on how a crime might be committed. On occasion, it comes in handy when Beckett and her team are stumped. Even as good as Det. Kevin Ryan (Seamus Deaver) and Det. Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) are at catching crooks, a new set of eyes can crack the case wide open.

Castle comes upon his latest case, one might say, in a manner not exactly expected. When he appears on a late night talk show to do a bit of promotion, Bobby Mann (Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars), the host, leans over during a break and suggests he is marked for death. Before Castle can discover more, a hitch arises. Martha (Susan Sullivan), Castle's mom, informs him Mann has died of an apparent heart attack.

Try to forget Bergeron is a little young to have that happen realistically. This, after all, is television. Facts get smudged sometimes. What is more important is Sullivan's sorely lacking amount of screen time. This actress is perhaps the best part of the whole show. The lighthearted banter between her and Fillion gives a balance to the gritty deaths coming on a regular basis.

Having a fair number of guest stars who are well known to audiences slightly makes up for the error. Besides Bergeron, Fred Willard, French Stewart, and Wendie Malick are just a few of the familiar faces. Each delivers with well developed roles. Stewart as a smarmy private investigator is a nice touch.

The credits got fixed! Out of the entire list of guest stars, the killer was listed in a spot which Castle tends not to put this person in. This makes the ending a welcome sight, as one gets to be surprised by who is arrested for the dirty deed. The last person suspected this time? Perhaps. A couple of twists help point towards others before Castle and Beckett take someone down.

In a way, current events are mentioned. The debacle between Leno and O'Brien is part of the storyline, although not directly. Letterman gets more pointed scenes, but it involves a picture rather than actor interaction. Even Tiger Woods gets a nod in Bergeron's opening bit.

Kelly Carlson takes on the role of Ellie Monroe, an actress who gets involved in the case in more ways than one. Let's put it this way — she gets Castle in over his head (not so hard, actually).

While the finale is a ways away, new episodes will not be large in number. The good thing is Castle has been renewed for a third season! Hopefully, this is not when viewers find out who had Beckett's mom killed. I'm guessing the writers are keeping the long-running subplot on ice until closer to finale time, sometime May.

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