With a flood of police procedure shows dominating television today, Castle is a refreshing and entertaining twist on the cop drama. The show follows Rick Castle (Nathon Fillion), an Andrew Marlowe-type of mystery writer, as he works with Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) to research his next crime novel. Castle is likable but hopelessly immature, and tends to talk before he thinks. Beckett is a by-the-numbers cop, and yet together they solve New York’s most outrageous murders.
Every episode is mostly self-contained (with the exception of one two-parter), so anyone can jump in to Castle at any time and not feel lost. The opening of every show, narrated by Nathan Fillion, provides the show’s premise and tells you all you need to know.
When Castle works, it perfectly balances drama with humor. Castle and Beckett share a flirty camaraderie with the kind of banter you used to see in the old romantic comedies of the 1940’s. The supporting cast is solid and the writing is very strong. Every episode features a strange or unusual murder that keeps viewers sucked in until the final reveal. When the plot line gets too serious, the show isn’t as good, but it’s a rare occurrence. The chemistry between Fillion and Katic is obvious, and elevates the show above most TV dramas.
The standard DVD set features a crisp widescreen (1.78:1) transfer enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Most police dramas feature a bleak or unfiltered color presentation, but here, the deep, rich colors pop off the screen. Even on the Samsung HDTV we viewed our copy on, the standard DVD transfer is top notch. Disney continues to put out high-quality transfers, and Castle is no exception.
Sound is 5.1 Dolby Digital, and while it won’t give you an immersive presentation, dialogue and music is clear and serviceable. For a show like this, you won’t need much better.
For the most part, special features are limited to Disc 5. There is a small featurette on Disc 1 called “The Castle Starter Kit,” which is basically a primer for the show, providing the setup and a breakdown of the major characters. It’s a fun little video for newcomers, but totally disposable.
There is one glaring omission to the special features, and that is the lack of any commentary on any of the season’s 24 episodes. Fans of the show would love to hear Fillion and company talk about the show out of character, and to not include at least one is a big minus.
It seems the DVD producers did put some effort to give us what special features they could, because several of the featurettes are outstanding. “On the set with Seamus and Jon” give Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas (Detectives Ryan and Esposito) a chance in the spotlight, as they give a tour of the sets. “On location with Nathan” is a nice featurette in which Nathan Fillion introduces us to some of the crew members that rarely get attention. It’s interesting, and with Fillion leading the interviews, the tone is quick and light.
The blooper reel, entitled “Misdemeanors and Outtakes,” is funny but way too short. There can never be too many bloopers. The music videos section, which gives us full videos shown only in parts in the “Famous Last Words” episode, is a bit pointless but a nice effort to include as many extras as possible.
There is an “Easter Egg” on the disc. From the main menu, highlight “Sneak Peeks” and push the cursor left. The pen tip from the “Castle” logo will turn green. Press enter and you will be treated to the “Johnny Fong Get Rich Quick” commercials from the “Sucker Punch” episode. You’ll keep repeating “I own a boat!” long after.
For fans of the show, Castle is a definite buy. Fans of mysteries and anyone looking for an antidote to CSI overload will enjoy the show, and with episodes that beg to be re-watched and enjoyed again, there’s no reason not to add it to a collection.