Tag Archives: ABC

Castle: “Rise”

This week’s review of Castle is brought to you by the letter CAPS LOCK.

After watching the Castle S3 finale (in July…), I had a few general hypotheses about where the S4 premiere might go. By “hypotheses” I mean less predictions, more like “extrapolations of what might happen, based on well-worn cliches.” These were not, I stress, not things I was hoping for. Just things I was expecting.

1) We’d start after a time skip, when Beckett returned to work.

2) The new captain would try to split up Beckett and Castle/get rid of Castle.

3) Beckett wouldn’t remember the shooting, and she definitely wouldn’t remember the I Love You desplaration.*

So…how’d I do? Not too badly. Unfortunately, that means the folks at Castle didn’t do a whole lot better.

Let’s start with item #1: Time Skip. You could argue that I was flat out wrong about this. The episode did actually begin the moment immediately after the funeral, with Beckett being rushed off to the hospital in a high-stress, higher-drama sequence with some pretty sweet moving and handheld camera work. Effective way to get the audience’s blood pumping and recapture summer-muddled attention immediately, so props for that. However. However. I think it needs to be pointed out exactly how stupid the entire scene really was. For one thing, talk about a no-risk scenario. At no point was there any doubt that Beckett was going survive and be Just Fine. So, WHY EVEN BOTHER. (I actually rolled my eyes at the flat-lining. Most unnecessary melodramatic thirty seconds ever.) For another thing: Josh. All of that. He had more screentime in that opening scene than over the entire past season, and yet somehow I cared Even Less. Because first we see him being all That’s My Girlfriend! I Will Save Her! heroic (melodramatic cliche bullshit in its purest form), then we see him being Grar Macho Man I Blame You Castle! douchey (out of character, and we – the audience – didn’t like him anyway so why bother giving us a reason?). My final reason why this first scene was a terrible idea is probably the most important. The only important-to-the-story thing that happened in the entire thing was Beckett’s “I’ll call you in a few days (read: not).” And you know what happened then? The Same Damn Thing That Happens Every Summer Break On Castle: Castle and Beckett part ways, at least one of them angrily, and then reconcile. TRY SOMETHING NEW. Seriously. I don’t think this first scene – any of it – needed to happen at all, and the five-or-six minutes spent on it might have been more useful for development elsewhere. Like, say,

Item #2: New Captain**. I feel pretty justified in saying that I totally called this one. Which makes me sad, because it is about as cliche and predictable as you can get. The new authority character who everybody hates/fears, who is ultimately destined to either become a watered-down sympathetic shell of their former self OR who will get killed off/promoted/made gone. I don’t care that the authority character is, by-only-semi-unusual-choice, a woman. I don’t even care that that woman is Penny Johnson Jerald (one of the greatest parts of 24 S1). This narrative choice, even with the sneaky twist of her jealousy of Beckett, is kind of like the ancient family butler of the cop-drama genre. He’s perfectly effective, but even if you put a new, shiny, affirmative action vest on him, he is showing his age and maybe you should let him retire peacefully and choose something more interesting to take his place. Like a robot. Or a house elf. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.

Now, finally, item #3: Beckett Amnesia. I was flat-out wrong about this one, but I didn’t realize until the very end of the episode because the writers were tricky as fuck. Beckett didn’t black everything out: she remembers Everything. This is maybe slightly unrealistic (I don’t have any firsthand experience with getting shot at a funeral, but I don’t think memory loss is unusual after, you know, dying, even temporarily), but it is potentially a great starting point. Especially when it gets revealed during my hands-down favorite scene of the episode, Beckett talking to her new therapist, Michael Dorn. This was the scene of the episode, for two reasons. One: MICHAEL DORN (I mean really, does it get any better than having Lieutenant Worf as your therapist? No.) Two: This shows promise. Here more than anywhere else in the episode, I see potential for Castle‘s story actually growing and developing. Beckett, already a fascinating character played by a highly capable actress, has great potential for personal growth and development. And, as in real life, her admission to herself that she has problems and needs to deal with them is the place where change is going to start. She isn’t Sydney Bristow, required to go to therapy and spending all her energy on resisting. She’s human, admitting her own weakness, and striving in a believable way to build up strength. As far as character development and progress in the interpersonal storylines, this might be the most brilliant choice of the series so far. So writers, DON’T FUCK IT UP.

I didn’t hate this episode, but I can’t say I liked it. Too many poor choices, not enough redeeming factors, and a homicide case backbone so nothing I barely even noticed it was happening. But, looking past the way “Rise” was reacting to last season and moving on to how it is setting up for this season, I’m actually pretty excited. Castle‘s development has been, a few trip-ups aside, on a permanent uphill trajectory. And while that is a wonderful thing, it starts to make us nervous around S3 when we start asking ourselves the inevitable question: “When is it going to reach the top and start going down?” I don’t think it will be this season. If Castle keeps up the solid episode-to-episode work and really digs in to the new character choices (Beckett’s therapy, as I mentioned, and also the newfound more-adult, more-aggressive Alexis we got a glimpse of), this season still could be the best yet, the show could still keep growing. BRING IT ON.

*That’s a mashup of “desperate” and “declaration”, incase you didn’t get it.
**Haha, I just had a funny moment in my brain where I realized when I’m talking about something related to Nathan Fillion and use the word “captain,” I immediately associate it with him, even when that’s completely incorrect.

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This Week 9/19 to 9/24

We’ve had a week of discovering just how much my life is ruined by not having internet access. (How much, you ask? SO MUCH.) Anyway. Ducks are in something resembling a row-like formation, approximately, so now here we are: a This Week post for the first time in MONTHS. It’s almost like I’m making a legitimate effort or something.

TONIGHT:
8pm – Eureka on Syfy (season finale!)
10pm – Castle on ABC (season premiere!)
10pm – Hawaii Five-0 on CBS (season premiere!)
10pm – The Playboy Club on NBC (series pilot!)

Really, Monday nights at 10? Really? Of course I’m going to be watching Castle, no question there. But it’s the principle of the thing. Also going on tonight: Ashton Kutcher’s Two and a Half Men debut. (Am I the only one who thinks the title should be changed to One and Two Half Men?) AND, two hours later, Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. Somewhere out there is a marketing genius.

TUESDAY:
8pm – NCIS on CBS (season premiere!)
8pm – Glee on FOX (season premiere!)
9pm – NCIS: LA on CBS (season premiere!)
9pm – New Girl on FOX (series pilot!)
9pm – Ringer on the CW

So I haven’t watched the pilot of Ringer yet…or the finale of Glee. Probably going to watch NCIS prime and then New Girl (just to finally put my morbid curiosity to rest).

WEDNESDAY:

Apparently I’m going to spend Wednesday catching up from Tuesday and Monday. Or maybe I’ll give in to the temptation to watch the pilot of Revenge at 10pm on ABC.

THURSDAY:
8pm – Charlie’s Angels on ABC (series pilot!)
9pm – Person of Interest on CBS (series pilot!)
10pm – Prime Suspect on NBC (series pilot!)

What is Prime Suspect doing on Comedy Thursday? Can anyone explain this?

FRIDAY:
8pm – A Gifted Man on CBS (series pilot!)
9pm – CSI: NY on CBS (season premiere!)
9pm – Fringe on FOX (season premiere!)
9pm – Supernatural on the CW (season premiere!)

I don’t know what CSI: NY is doing on my schedule – I pretty much stopped watching. I don’t know what Fringe is doing on my schedule – I’m now two and a half seasons behind or some damn thing. I do know what Supernatural is doing on my schedule – just finished S4, so as soon as I slam down S5 (so to speak), I’m working it in because that show is freaking awesome.

SATURDAY:

Saturday is not even a day on TV.

And now I have to go do my last Fall is Fun post REALLY REALLY QUICKLY before I end up staying at this Starbucks for an awkwardly long time. Enjoy your week! Premieres, guys! Funandnews!

FALL IS FUN: New Series for 2011/2012 – ABC

Next up in the fall premiere rundown, new shows on ABC! (Next after what, you ask? Check out my post on FOX’s new shows here.)

CHARLIE’S ANGELS
Premieres Thursday September 22 at 8pm

Yes, you heard right. Charlie’s Angels is back. Again. Producer Drew Barrymore has convinced ABC to try yet another retro show reboot (despite the rather catastrophic failures of Bionic Woman and Knight Rider in the recent past). The mere fact that this is, in fact, a reboot is a major count against the show. As is the fact that many people who watched the show as it aired the first time are still alive and still represent a fair amount of the overall competitive ratings pool. And you just know that they aren’t going to favor the new series. Especially since, odds are, it won’t be that good.

Certainly there will a group of people that is either large or largely vocal or both complaining that the new series is “not as good” as the original. And that right there is one of the two major problems with remaking anything. The new will always be in disfavor with some people merely on principle. The new is not “not as good” because the original was any good itself, but just because it is new and clearly we just hate new things. Which (second major problem) is why people continue to try and recreate what has been successful before. New ideas are not an assured win. And neither are reboots, really, but there’s a psychology that they are and so they keep on coming.

To be fair, there have been some successful and even genuinely good reboots over the past decade. For example, 2003’s Battlestar Galactica, now a major institution within sci-fi, and last year’s break-out CBS hit Hawaii Five-0. So it is possible Charlie’s Angels could surprise us all. My personal hang-up with the series is that it is Charlie’s Angels. If it wasn’t attached to that title, and all I knew about it was the premise (Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh, and Minka Kelly redeem their criminal pasts by kicking ass in sexy outfits), I admit it: I would totally watch that show. And so, I am going to do my best to suspend my bias.

For all I know, it isn’t going to suck at all. They’re certainly making an effort – Minka Kelly’s character is a new one, a replacement for original Angel Gloria. This tactical decision – and it is a tactical decision on the part of the show-runners – helps immediately separate the new from the old. Plus, it conveniently does away with the most glaringly outdated character name.

PAN AM
Premieres Sunday September 25 at 10pm

The first time I saw promotional material about this show, I was totally uninterested. Probably because I’m not the target demographic. Pan Am is partly riding on the fact it is set in a certain decade not too long ago that has been relaunched into public adoration by way of a certain smash-hit AMC series. Also a decade during which most of ABC’s Sunday audience (or at least, who I imagine is ABC’s Sunday audience, aka the people who watch Desperate Housewives) was alive and kicking significantly skinnier legs than they’ve got now. So, potentially, there is an audience ready and raring to go.

What piques my interest is not the glamour (although that is always fun), or the soap opera-y interpersonal storylines (mostly just a depressing reminder that we are living the end of the soap op-era), nor is it the stylized setting (which promises to be delightful and slick and chic and all those good things). Instead, I am intrigued by an element just barely hinted at in the previews for this show: the little secret side business the Pan Am girls are in. No, I don’t know what it is. I’m guessing probably drugs or stealing things or something of that sort.

Now, if I had my way, this show would be awesome. Because the Pan Am girls would be assassins, or spies, or both. And the series would use the retro setting as an opportunity to explore the idea of “the modern woman” and how that did begin to change starting in the mid twentieth century. If I had my way. Realistically, I’m expecting this to be mostly a fluff piece. A complement to its ABC Sunday cohorts. And that’s fine too, but I probably won’t watch after the pilot.

ONCE UPON A TIME
Premieres Sunday October 23 at 8pm

I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about this series. There are a elements in the premise/preview that make me worry. And that’s just ignoring the fact that this show is kind of weird and probably really expensive to make and putting those two things together usually results in early cancellation. Even if the show is good (which we will have to wait and see, because there are so many elements at work).

One thing that greatly concerns me is that the entire premise rests on a sort of parallel universe scenario. On the one side is the charming but semi-creepy small town, another member of the Twin Peaks wannabe collective. On the other is a straight up fantasy environment snatched right out of a bedtime story, with castles and pouffy dresses and monsters and some wacky SFX makeup (all of which look sick, so immediate props to the production team for that). The exact same individuals exist in both worlds and the exact same scenarios occur, but (supposedly) there is no cross-universe-awareness. This is, in short, a bold move. Parallel universes are a tricky situation no matter what you do or who you are. Ask ten people how they liked the final season of Lost, and I’ll bet you $20 that at least seven of them will complain about The Sideways. And Lost was already fully established. If there is any sort of falter or flaw in the presentation of this new series’ parallel universe, it is doomed. Even if the presentation is flawless, it could still be doomed. Fantasy/sci-fi scenarios like this do not tend to attract wide audiences, no matter how spectacular they are.

Another major worry is perhaps just a matter of personal taste. From what I can surmise, the central character of Once Upon A Time is played by Jennifer Morrison, lately of House. I am not a fan of Jennifer Morrison. She is capable enough as an actor, but I don’t find her intriguing in the least. It may well be that Once Upon A Time is actually more of an ensemble piece – I think it’s safe to assume that Lana Parrilla‘s Evil Queen is going to be the performance of the show, because that’s just how Evil Queens work. But I just can’t see myself maintaining interest in a series that single-mindedly focuses its story on a character played by Jennifer Morrison. It’s just a problem for me.

I will honestly be surprised if this show lasts very long. Airing on Sundays + Unusual Plot + Fantasy = Uh Oh, in simple terms.

THE RIVER
Midsesaon

I’m really interested to see if this series actually works out. It looks like an attempt to adapt the creepy-things-in-the-dark horror/thriller/shrieker movie genre for television. Not a bad plan, altogether. If every person who enjoys this sort of movie could be pulled into watching the series…well, let’s just say that there’s a lot of potential audience out there. And not an audience likely to care if the episodes get repetitive, because that’s kind of one of the major hallmarks of the genre. Not to mention that the Paranormal Activity-type camera work and filtering will be pretty unique among major network shows, another potential draw.

What may or may not work against The River is the fact that it appears to be one of many attempts to fill the void left by Lost. ABC is especially suffering for a slice of the sci-fi fan pie these days, but I am totally on the fence about whether or not The River could be a solution to its woes. The Amazonian setting is a good move, I think. Fascination with that area, which is one of the last mostly-untouched zones of the planet, is a pretty popular thing these days (partly thanks to the fact that a lot of wacky foods fueling the antioxidant/smartfood crazy come from there – society is weird). Plus, even without the paranormal twist, there’s a lot of Really Terrifying Stuff lurking in the various levels of the rainforest. Venus Fly Traps and Big Ass Snakes, guys. What might be missing for some of the floating former Lost audience is the complicated, tricky storyline. I expect that a wider, twistier plot is planned for The River if it lasts long enough. But the initial scenario, family searches for mysteriously disappeared father and gets freaked out by things, looks to be about 90% cheap thrills, 10% anything else.

I’m not a horror movie girl by any means. And I really really hate snakes, no matter how not-real and not-going-to-get-me they are. But for some reason, I’m very interested in this show. At the very least because its got some pretty excellent actors including Sam Neill (appearing in the pilot as the lost father/explorer), Leslie Hope (24‘s Teri Bauer), and Paul Blackthorne (also of 24, but who I am interested in primarily because of my recent discovery of The Dresden Files).

No promised release date on this series yet. It’s one of those coming-in-midseason-but-only-if/when-something-else fails-spectacularly-and-we’ve-got-space-in-the-schedule series. But it will get here eventually, and I’m looking forward to it.

Feel like I missed something? That’s probably because I have absolutely no interest in seeing it. If you want a full Fall/Midseason schedule, I suggest Zap2It’s nifty interactive chart, which will provide you with a nifty little interface and handy links to check out the titles you don’t recognize.

This Week 3/7 to 3/12

So yeah. I guess I’m back.

I’ve spent the last…however long its been…mostly hacking away at my To-Watch list of old. Progress so far: Seasons 1 and 2 of Damages, Seasons 1-3 of Dexter, rewatching Season1 of Dollhouse, attempting to watch The 4400, and then also watching hours and hours of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Next up is Season 1 of The Closer, and I’m very excited.

BUT. Time goes on. New things air. And I try to keep up, or at least catch up.

MONDAY:
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
8pm – The Event on ABC (2-hour midseason return!)
9pm – The Chicago Code on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy

Of these four, I’m only current on The Event, and that’s only because there haven’t been any new episodes since my Great Catch Up of early January. Actually, I haven’t even started The Chicago Code yet. But people I trust tell me I should, so.

TUESDAY:
8pm – Glee on FOX
10pm – White Collar on USA

GWYNETH PALTROW IS BACK ON GLEE!!! (Which reminds me. I finally caught back up on Glee after my period of disenchantment. And I LOVE IT again. Good times.)

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Justified on FX

Question for Wednesday: is Mr. Sunshine worth watching? I’ve been curious.

THURSDAY:
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Facing Kate on USA

This week on Bones: continuation of the “sniper arc” I keep hearing about. What makes that actually exciting: Arnold Vosloo!

FRIDAY:
9pm – CSI: NY on CBS
9pm – Fringe on FOX

I really need to catch up on Fringe. I miss it.

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Zach Galifianakis and Jessie J.) on NBC

In Big Screen Brain news, I just saw The Adjustment Bureau. Expect a review in the next couple of days.

My Favorite Guest Actors – Issue 2

I’m pulling this feature out of the deep recesses of early Melted Brain because, well, writing reviews takes thinking and that’s hard so I don’t want to but I do want to post something so this is the best I could come up with. These men (yes, all men this time – I don’t know why, but I have a hard time remembering or getting really attached to female guest actors) are some of my very very favorite guest actors. They’ve all appeared on several of my favorite shows and, I’ll be honest, they all have that capacity to be excellently creepy. I am nothing if not consistent in my tastes. Here we go!

Arnold Vosloo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He tends to be cast as “The Middle Eastern Guy” and it is in that capacity that he has appeared on several of my favorite shows. Most notably, he played the slipperiest, trickiest, most difficult-to-find-nevermind-kill main 24 villain, Habib Marwan, on Day 4. He has also appeared on Chuck and NCIS and, most recently, on Bones (and that role is being reprised soon as the touted “sniper arc” moves forward). Generally, it is versatility that impresses me in an actor. But that isn’t really what gives Arnold Vosloo his appeal. Instead, what most impresses me about his various performances is the consistent steadiness in his carriage. No matter what he is doing or saying, there is always a certain element of…class, I guess you could call it. Nervousness and wavering are just not in his vocabulary and, really, it’s that steadiness that makes him so appealing and intimidating as a villain. And there is nothing better than an effortlessly intimidating villain. Except for maybe an effortlessly intimidating might-not-actually-be-a-villain, which is also an archetype he plays.

Mark Pellegrino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This actor has a peculiar talent for portraying both innocuous benevolence and brute violence…often in the same character. The two best examples of this disparity are Jacob of Lost and Paul of Dexter. He is totally believable as a loving father/guardian type, as well as an abusive power-hungry sonofoabitch, and somehow he even carries off the transition between those two elements. It is thoroughly amazing. But, it is a little sad that he is being more and more typecast in that sort of role – other recent examples include appearances on Supernatural and Being Human. Though losing the opportunity to seem him anywhere at anytime would be sad, I would love to see Mark Pellegrino get his own show – preferably something that gives him a chance to show off a bit more versatility.

Titus Welliver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving right along to Mark Pellegrino’s opposite number from Lost, The Man In Black. Fittingly enough, he is somewhat the opposite as an actor. Titus Welliver shares the talent for straddling two seemingly incompatible personality traits within the same character. For him, the combination seems to be enigmatic menace and almost sissyish emotionality. My favorite role of his is Kyle Hollis from Life, a murderer-for-hire turned evangelist. It was the brief clip of that character’s preaching hellfire and damnation that really sold me on this man’s talent. That talent is yet another point chalked up on the board for “Reasons Why I Should Start Watching The Good Wife.” Also, he gets major bonus points in my affections for having one of the coolest names ever.

Tony Todd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Todd is a bamf, straight up. The man is basically built to play menacing characters. He’s also got one of those excellent, excellent voices. He has played characters on both sides of the moral spectrum, but I definitely prefer his villains. He played General Juma on Day 7 of 24 and was pretty much solely responsible for what I consider to be the best (and by “best” I mean “most terrifying and exhilarating and adrenaline-rushy”) fifteen minutes of the season, possibly of the series. I’ll be totally honest and admit that he’s not my favorite because of his range, or even because of his talent. It’s pretty much just because he plays awesome villains and/or intimidating authority figures and any appearance he makes is sure to be good times.

Callum Keith Rennie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I’m being totally honest, I should probably start off this paragraph by being straightforward and admitting that, yes, part of the reason I enjoy Callum Keith Rennie so much is because he is attractive. But seriously, mostly I love him because he plays excellent creepers. My favorite role of his so far is probably Leoben of Battlestar Galactica because, thanks to the chance to bounce of the sheer brilliance of Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck, he got to dig his heels way deep in and explore that delicious moral gray area. His character from 24 (yes, 24 again), Vladimir Laitanan is a close second, but that’s probably because not only do I love charming-but-terrifying, I really love Russians. I was going to say “He’s another who I’d love to see have his own show.” But then I went to imdb and found out that he DOES – he plays the lead role, a detective with multiple personality disorder, in a Canadian show called Shattered. Guess what just jumped to the top five in my Need To Watch list.

Oh THAT Guy!: Issue 4

Here it is, a fresh new group of people who you’ve probably seen a billion times but haven’t ever really noticed or remembered. There are only four this time because I eliminated one at the last minute. As always, the pictures are linked to their imdb pages.

Dakin Matthews

Selected Appearances:
Desperate Housewives [multiple episodes] as Reverend Sikes (2005-2011)
True Grit as Colonel Stonehill (2010)
True Blood [multiple episodes] as Dr. Robideaux
Gilmore Girls [multiple episodes] as Hanlin Charleston (2000-2007)
Dexter “Father Knows Best” as Dr. Pittman (2006)
House “Damned If You Do” as Marvin/Santa Claus (2004)
Star Trek Voyager “Relativity” as Admiral Patterson (1999)
Flubber as Minister (1997)
The Swan Princess as King William (1994)

…and I’m going to stop there. This man has been in a million different things over the years, on American and British shows. Much of the time he plays, doctors, judges, or religious figures – basically, fusty or fluttery or finicky old man type roles. Nothing so significant that he is a household name, but more than enough comic bits to make him an easily recognizable face.

Hakeem Kae-Kazim

Selected Appearances:
NCIS: Los Angeles “Lockup” and “Harm’s Way” as Abdul Habaza (2011)
Human Target “Taking Ames” as Andre Markus (2010)
24 [multiple episodes] as Colonel Ike Dubaku (2009)
Othello as Iago*(2007)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Captain Jocard (2007)
Lost “The Cost of Living” as Emeka (2006)
Hotel Rwanda as George Rutaganda (2004)
*I haven’t quite been able to figure out how this can work.

According to his imdb biography, Hakeem Kae-Kazim is a classically trained UK actor with a lot of Shakespeare in his resume. On American television, though, he is currently the go-to guy for a very specific role: the scary-as-hell but also really smiley violent dictator and/or terrorist. Oh man is he scary as hell. And really good at it.

Carlo Rota

Selected Appearances:
Human Target “Imbroglio” as Eli Rosko (2011)
Little Mosque on the Prairie [multiple episodes] as Yasir Hamoudi (2007-2010)
NCIS: Los Angeles “Found” as Kalil Abramson (2010)
CSI: NY “Sanguine Love” as Joseph Vance (2010)
Castle “The Fifth Bullet” as Bahir Harun (2009)
White Collar “Threads” as Ghovat (2009)
24 [multiple episodes] as Morris O’Brian (2006-2009)
Othello as Othello (2008)*
Queer as Folk [multiple episodes] as Gardner Vance (2002-2004)
A Nero Wolfe Mystery [multiple episodes] as Barry Fleming/Felix Courret/Spiros Papps (2002)
La Femme Nikita [multiple episodes] as Mick Schtoppel/Mr. Jones (1997-2001)
The Boondock Saints as Yakavetta (1999)
*I find this Othello circumstance only slightly less puzzling than the last.

My first exposure to Carlo Rota was when he played the British comic-relief role of Morris O’Brian on 24. So, it rather confused me when I realized that the majority of his guest roles qualify as “The Middle Eastern Guy,” or at least “The Foreign Guy.” (…I guess British would count as foreign, huh?) Anyway, he seems to spend about equal amounts of time on the sides of Good and Bad, usually serving in small-time-crime-boss or dry-comic-distraction capacities.

Jeanette Miller

Selected Appearances:
The Middle [multiple episodes] as Aunt Edie (2009-2011)
Legion as Gladys Foster (2010)
Four Christmases as Gram-Gram (2008)
Scrubs “My No Good Reason” as Betty (2007)
Dexter “Father Knows Best” as Elderly Neighbor (2006)
100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd [multiple episodes] as Crazy Grandma Taylor (2001-2002)
Friends “The One In Vegas: Part 2” as The Elderly Woman (1999)
The Truman Show as Senior Citizen (1998)
Seinfeld “The Wizard” as Old Woman (1998)
Star Trek Voyager “Random Thoughts” as The Woman (1997)

I’m guessing most people probably recognize her as “the old woman who crawled up the wall and tried to kill a baby in the previews for Legion.” And that is fair enough. As you can see from the small sampling of her resume I’ve provided, she is comfortably typecast and tends to play roles described and named with various synonyms for “aged” and “not all there.”

Castle: “Setup/Countdown” – Tick, Tick, Tick…Boink.

(This post’s title brought to you by last year’s excellent Castle doubleheader and by a childhood spent reading Bill Watterson*.)

Translation: I am highly disappointed in how “Setup”/”Countdown” turned out.

The biggest problem is the premise of the entire thing. Castle and Beckett have no business hunting down and diffusing bombs. They just don’t. Taking down a smuggling ring or a gambling operation or something mob-related, I could potentially understand. But a terrorist threat? No. Just no. Castle has definitely rewritten the book (…so to speak…) on homicide procedurals and done a phenomenal job of that, no question. There is, however, a limit to its powers. A line, if you will, that has just been crossed.

To be fair, the team at Castle did embrace the chance to do what they do best and put a new, more personable spin on the whole counterterrorist genre. Sort of. Plenty of shows and movies before have explained the stress that Homeland Security types are under to do their very difficult and very dangerous jobs without completely losing all grasp on humanity/reality. Maybe it’s just that I’m more receptive to explanations of these things from Castle than I am from, say, Jack Bauer, but I will admit that I did have a bit of an emotional-context paradigm shift thanks to the Castle-and-Beckett breakdown of Agent Fallon’s baggage-sum-behavior. A bit.

The second greatest disappointment for me was the incredible lack of originality in “Setup”/”Countdown.” And by “lack of originality,” I guess what I mean is “predictability.” Perhaps my lack of surprise is due to the fact that I have seen every single episode of 24 and most similar movies, to the point where eighty to ninety percent of the counterterrorist genre resides in my head. Perhaps it is merely because Castle has established a pattern over the past two and a half years and, I flatter myself, I’ve pretty much got it down at this point. But I was surprised by nothing over the course of two episodes. And that is just sad. Seriously though. Having the Middle Easterners not be terrorists and having Castle and Beckett be the only ones to believe it? Not stunningly original (by genre standards). Having Castle and Beckett go rogue because they have a different idea, and then rogue-er when no-one believes them? Typical (by show and genre standards). Putting Castle and Beckett in a near-death situation only to have Ryan and Esposito rescue them at the last minute because Alexis made a call and started a chain reaction? Flat out lame (by Castle standards).

And, unfortunately, that standard of predictability colored my view of the whole thing to the point where I couldn’t even fully appreciate the bomb-stop-by-dumbass-luck purely on principle of “I saw that coming.” To be clear, that decision, which would probably be considered a cop-out anywhere but on Castle, is not something I consider an indication of lameness. That was, in fact, a quintessential Castle moment. A level of sheer ridiculousness, if you will, that no other show can get away with. The moment itself, and the immediate emotional reaction by the lead actors/characters almost made the whole two episode lead-in worthwhile. But only almost.

My final complaint with “Setup”/”Countdown” is a bit of a double-edged sword, actually, and it extends beyond this two episode storyline. It is, in brief, The Whole Doctor Motorcycle Boy Thing. That arc has been bothering me for all of S3 for a several reasons. Some of those reasons I will let go (and by “let go” I mean “just mention so you think about it on your own but move on with my larger point for the sake of this post”), like how Victor Webster is completely underused (even when you take into consideration that he’s moderately talented at best), or how calling Beckett/DMB updates “sporadic” would be generous on a saintly level.

What I can’t let go is the general feeling that the entire relationship and its place within the greater storyline of Castle is nothing more than a token romantic conflict. In a show that hinges entirely on the should-be romance of its two lead characters, the presence of a romantic rival is vital to the development of that central relationship and to the maintenance of fanbase interest. The problem is, Castle doesn’t hinge entirely on the should-be romance of Castle and Beckett! Obviously their relationship is the central element. But, newsflash, that relationship goes a lot further than Ooooh, They Want To Be Together But Can’t. Personally, I feel like the more platonic elements are actually stronger and more enjoyable than the almost-romance. I fullheartedly embrace the day-to-day snarking. The Kiss is not a moment that I’ve been living and dying for since day one, and it didn’t totally rock my world when it happened.

BUT I DIGRESS. Point is, “Setup”/”Countdown” gave the Beckett/Josh relationship a raise from Lame Background Story to Lame Forefront Story. And yes, that is a problem. If the counterterrorism two-parter was predictable, then I don’t think I know a suitably hyperbolic synonym for how boring the next developments in this love triangle plotline are going to be. We all know how it is going to end. I wish Castle would just get on with it and get it over with, for all our sakes. But not as much as I wish it had just never happened in the first place.

The DMB issue notwithstanding, there are elements of this two-parter to be grateful for. Little points of light include but are not limited to, the “Would You Just Let Me Drive” exchange, the “Best Dad Ever” moment, and the latest installment of “Ryan And Esposito: Bros For Life.” There was also the unparalleled excellence of “You’ve never heard of The Serenity?,” which gets double points for being both a Firefly/Serenity and a Star Wars joke. And, my personal favorite, the guest appearance by Adrian Pasdar, who I have been missing dreadfully in an inactive way since he was FINALLY killed off on Heroes.

It is possible that my overall disappointment with “Setup”/”Countdown” is the natural result of having high expectations that just aren’t met. I expect more of Castle, period. More originality, more nuance, and more elegance in storytelling than was displayed. Also more jokes. After last year’s “Tick, Tick, Tick…”/”Boom!”, this two-episode event was a letdown in comparison. I guess everyone is allowed an off-day, so to speak, so I certainly haven’t lost faith in the series as a whole. I’m just glad this particular moment is over with. Better days ahead.

*For those of you who didn’t make the cognitive leap on your own: a link.

This Week 1/24 to 1/29

Coming this week from Melted Brain: one Big Screen Brain, three (maybe four) First Glances, and one Oh THAT Guy. I just need to figure out when to write them all.

ANYWAY. SCHEDULE.

MONDAY:
8pm – Chuck on NBC
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family
9pm – The Cape on NBC
9pm – Lie to Me on FOX
9pm – Being Human on SyFy
10pm – Castle on ABC

New Castle! My week is horribly sad when it doesn’t start with a good hour of snarky crimesolving.

TUESDAY:
10pm – White Collar on USA

Dear Tuesday,
Suck less.
Love,
Melted Brain

WEDNESDAY:
10pm – Blue Bloods on CBS
10pm – Face Off on SyFy

Blue Bloods has been upgraded from Fridays. I guess that means it’s doing well. And, reminder, Face Off is a special effects makeup competition show.

THURSDAY:
8pm – The Vampire Diaries on the CW
9pm – Nikita on the CW
9pm – Bones on FOX
10pm – Fairly Legal on USA

FRIDAY:
9pm – Fringe on FOX

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Jesse Eisenberg and Nicki Minaj) on NBC

Now THERE is an SNL lineup I am dying to miss. Also on NBC: US Championship Figure Skating, Ladies Free Skate. (Looks like I’ll be getting a call from my grandmother later this week…)

Castle: “Nikki Heat”

All things considered, I’m actually a little disappointed in this episode. It was not as hilarious as I was expecting. Given Castle‘s usual M.O., I thought an episode where Castle comes face to face with Nikki Heat would be more comical than, well, pseudo-revelatory. Frankly, the more serious tone was a let down.

All the “insight” from this episode regarding the Castle-Beckett relationship falls solidly into the “duh” category. And the presentation was well suited to that level of subtlety (and by “subtlety” I mean “lack thereof”). Castle and Beckett have unresolved sexual tension?! Nikki Heat is an opportunity for Castle to fantasize?! Beckett actually does have feelings for Castle but doesn’t want to admit them?! Whaaaat? If you were surprised by any of that, you are a moron and I am revoking your Castle Fan Club card.

We did not need a Hollywood actress character to come in, study Beckett, make some observations, and then explain all of this to us. We just didn’t. And, sadly, having said Hollywood actress character become Beckett’s freaky doppleganger was not quite funny enough to balance out that insult to the audience’s intelligence. Which is not to say it wasn’t funny.

Laura Prepon (best known for her role on That 70s Show) as Natalie Gray gave an excellent performance. She hit just the right note in-between blonde bimbo slasher star and serious studious actress. I’m also going to compliment the people who cast her; at the start of the show, she didn’t look a thing like Beckett. But throw on the right clothes and wig and BAM!, suddenly you realize they do have fairly similar facial structures. She was a good choice, and she did absolutely everything that was asked of her to perfection.

 

Spending so much time on a guest character definitely had a costly effect on the usual supporting cast. Esposito and Martha and Lanie and the Captain each had about five seconds on-screen. Alexis was around only slightly longer – although the writers made that time count by revealing her bad side! (Of course, her “bad side” only amounts to watching horrible R-rated teen slasher flicks, but still.)

Ryan got the most attention of any of the supporting cast. Unfortunately, his time in the sun was one huge, honking WTF moment. Ryan and girlfriend storyline: WHY? Yes, having Seamus Dever and his real-life wife Juliana act out this adorable courtship is cute in an awwsqueeVOMIT sort of way. But it is a complete non sequitor in relation to the rest of the show. Obviously I am always looking for more character development of Ryan (and Esposito). This does not count.

One unquestionably great thing about this episode: it was basically a showcase of How Awesome Stana Katic Is. Yes we all knew about the emotional stuff and yes explicating all of that was pretty redundant. That said, how many of us were really in tune with everything that Stana Katic does to embody the character of Beckett? If you weren’t impressed before, you sure as hell’d better be now. This is definitely her season; the title of the series hasn’t changed, but she is starting to steal the show from Nathan Fillion. I love the man, no question. And he is a phenomenal actor. But now he’s found a worthy co-star, he needs to step it up. Together, both at the top of their game, these two could make Castle the best dynamic duo procedural yet.

I am looking forward to next week. Beckett and Castle investigating the death of an illusionist can only mean a return to the show’s signature dark-but-wacky brand of comedy.

This Week 1/3 to 1/9

MONDAY:
8pm – Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family (midseason return!)
10pm – Castle on ABC (midseason return!)
10pm – Hawaii Five-0 on CBS (midseason return!)

This week’s episode of Castle brought to you by the excellent and intriguing title “Nikki Heat.” It’s gonna be a good ‘un.

TUESDAY:
8pm – No Ordinary Family  on ABC (midseason return!)
9pm – V on ABC (season premiere!)
10pm – Detroit 1-8-7 on ABC (midseason return!)
10pm – Southland on TNT (season premiere!)

Except I actually don’t watch any of these. Maybe I should take them off my schedule…

WEDNESDAY:
8pm – Human Target on FOX (2-hour midseason return!)

Also, there’s a Bones marathon on TNT.

THURSDAY:

Nothing new is airing.

FRIDAY:
9pm – CSI: NY on CBS (midseason return!)

SATURDAY:
11:30pm – Saturday Night Live (Jim Carrey and the Black Keys) on NBC (midseason return!)

SUNDAY:
9pm – The Cape on NBC (2-hour series pilot!)
9:30pm – Episodes on Showtime (series pilot!)
10pm – Shameless on Showtime (series pilot!)