One of the biggest problems with diving into a television series several seasons after it has started — without having witnessed any of that particular show’s previous episodes — is that you really don’t have a basis of comparison on its quality. I had seen promos for Castle before via the dozens of bumpers found at the beginning of just about any DVD release these days, and found them to be quite amusing, but I never actually saw it before taking a look at this season box set.
Now, fair warning here, kids: if you’re a regular viewer of Castle, I will no doubt insult you slightly with what I’m about to say. Frankly, Castle didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would (or rather, than I hoped it would). It wasn’t that I was unfamiliar with the already established characters, either: they were about as cookie-cutter as could be if you were to compare them with their contemporary television rivals — and would easily be at home on a forensics or police procedural drama.
The only difference, of course, is the lead character: Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) — the reason people actually tune in to the show in the first place. For the uninitiated, Castle’s a famous crime novelist, one who enjoys a certain form of carte blanche when it comes to his relationship with the police department’s homicide team; to wit he is able to follow and “assist” the crusading efforts of NYPD detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic, who has this funky Julia Roberts meets Monica Potter kind of thing goin’ on) in her investigations.
While it aptly sets the stage for some fun times to be had — and, in several cases, pulls off its jokes admirably — I’m sorry to say that the comedy in Season Three is terribly forced and cutesy (the slapstick routine that Katic’s sidekicks — Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas — is particularly appalling), while the more “dramatic” aspects of this ABC series left me shaking my head in pity and disbelief.
The murder mysteries themselves (at least in this season) won’t necessarily warrant any drainage of one’s brainpower, while the often-dreary (not to mention sometimes downright ridiculous) dialogue and touchingly cutesy “family moments” between Castle and his family (Susan Sullivan and Molly C. Quinn, the latter of whom looks like Shirley MacLaine lovechild with Flo the Progressive Girl) make it feel like Disney produced this show.
Oh, wait, they did. No wonder.
Castle: The Complete Third Season is presented in five-disc set that preserves the show’s 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The picture quality here is quite nice, as is the 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound (optional subtitles are available in English, Spanish, and French). Special features include several deleted scenes and outtakes, audio commentary on select episodes, a “music video” (sigh), and several featurettes.
And, just in case anyone’s wondering, Mr. Fillion does indeed mention his work with Joss Whedon in one of the more notable featurettes, a filmed roundtable discussion with the star and his employers entitled “Murder They Wrote.”
In conclusion, I can’t help but wonder if this show has always been this mediocre. Hopefully, my displeasure over Castle: The Complete Third Season was simply a case of me jumping in at the wrong time. I guess now’s as good of a time as any to begin the beguine.