My dad was an artillery spotter in World War II. I never understood why after having seen the truth of the battlefield, he so enjoyed reading novels, seeing movies, and watching TV shows that took place during the War. I think his favorite TV show of all time was Combat.
Well, maybe I understand now. I guess we can't resist those self-referential stories. I loved Gregg Hurtwitz’s The Crime Writer. Guess why? (Beyond the great writing, clever plot, and terrific hero, I mean.) Because it was about a crime writer, and that’s what I am.
All this is a long-winded way to get around to admitting that there’s a new TV show with no high pretensions which I make sure I see every week. No, it’s not anything hi-falutin like a PBS miniseries or a succès d’estime like Mad Men or even a popular hit like Grey’s Anatomy. It’s Castle. Guess what the protagonist does for a living? Yes, he’s a crime novelist.
You see Richard Castle is a huge, best-selling author who’s run into a patch of literary infertility. So he asks his pal, the mayor of New York, if he can tag along with a police detective to get inspired. Sure, happens everyday, right?
Needless to say, the police detective is tall, leggy, dark-eyed, brunette, and smart. (Bias disclosure: I married a woman who is tall, leggy, dark-eyed, brunette, and smart.) Castle has a know-it-all daughter. (Bias disclosure: I have three of them.) Castle plays poker with the real-life James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell. (Bias disclosure: I am bursting with envy.)
The identity of the guilty party is pretty clear by twenty minutes in the show. Doesn’t matter. What makes the whole thing worth watching is the répartée between the detective and Castle. Yes, it’s derivative. Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis did pretty much the same thing on Moonlighting a generation ago. But who cares? Moonlighting was a great show. About every ten minutes in Castle, either the detective or writer delivers a line where I think, “Gosh, I wish I’d written that one.” I’m willing to pan through a lot of gravel to get to that nugget.
The show airs Mondays at 10. Last week it finished behind CSI Miami but ahead of Medium. I really enjoy the show and, as night follows day, that means it is not long for your TV set or DVR. Catch it while you can. Take a look tonight and let me know what you think.