Monday, April 6, 2009

Castle Keep

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.


G.M. Malliet said...

Keith - I am so grateful for the recommendation. Some nights we are desperate for something to watch around here.

But it's always feast or famine. We're enjoying The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency so much. What a great job of translating Alexander McCall Smith's books to the screen.

Also, the Tudors have returned and he's on wife #3 now. Bliss.

Alan Orloff said...

Combat was one of my father's favorite shows, too. I remember watching it with him and wishing I could be more like Vic Morrow, standing there, helmet on his head, with the straps hanging down, barking orders at his men.

In the entire run of Combat, I'd bet Vic didn't have as many one-liners as Castle has in ten minutes.

Deborah Sharp said...

Oooh, sounds like a good one. Thanks for the great recommendation, and for all the interesting personal details... hmmm, daughters who think they know all??? Teenagers, no doubt?
And, are you the lone male in that household? If so, poor Keith!

Terri Thayer said...

I have three brothers close to me in age. I never watched TV as a kid. because we voted on what to watch. Combat always won.

i read. A lot.

Jess Lourey said...

Gin, I heard they were making a movie of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency--is out it already? I love the books.

G.M. Malliet said...

Jess - It's on HBO - the second in the series aired last night in our area.

I read somewhere that they decided the books worked better as a TV series. So far as I know, there are no plans to make a movie.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Oh oh - no more recommendations!!! No matter how good.

I'm with Gin. I love The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and The Tudors. I'd watch TV every day all day given the opportunity. Now friends have turned me on to CRAP! Some friends.

Keith Raffel said...

Oh, I forgot to mention Richard Castle's horny mother. She's a retired Broadway actor. She tells her son and granddaughter that being an actor is a "real job, not just sitting at home in front of a computer screen and calling it work."

Keith Raffel said...


No, #4 is a 10-year old red-blooded American male. Just as much backtalk as his sibs, though.