After Bones finally settled on one side of the “will they won’t they?” fence, Castle followed suit and committed to “they will”. With both shows I’ve never really been that interested in either the question or the answer of whether the professional partners should become romantic ones too, so approached each commitment with a lot of reservations. I was really surprised that I found Brennan and Booth’s relationship on Bones not just tolerable, but actually interesting and entertaining. Sadly, I’m not quite so enthusiastic about the approach that’s been taken on Castle, but I am relieved that the show is at least not weaker for it.
Maybe the reason that the Bones relationship worked is that they skipped straight past all the awkward dating phase and moved straight to living together and having a baby. That’s not the case on Castle and I think that’s why the whole thing felt considerably less fresh and exciting. The couple go through all the usual stages and traumas – sneaking around and keeping the relationship secret from families and co-workers, getting found out, nervousness around exes, wondering “where we’re going”. It hit all the predictable notes.
That said though, Castle has always excelled at taking the familiar and putting enough charm on the top that you don’t really care. Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic play out the tropes and clichés with such humour, character and charisma, that even cynical old me usually found myself carried along in the moments. It would be marvellous to see what these actors could do with original, fresh material, but at least if we must have unoriginal storylines, they are being done well.
There wasn’t really much in the way of additional ongoing plots this season, which was another disappointment (although given their track record with shoddy arcs maybe it’s better that they don’t try). The supporting characters were their usual fun but underused selves. Alexis being in college seemed to make very little difference although it’s surprising the writers held off this long to have Alexis caught up in a crime. Did anything actually happen to the other characters at all? They do seem to have got even fewer storylines than usual. I really enjoy Esposito and Ryan, but most episodes they are little more than exposition delivery, barely even rating to “sidekick”. Mind you at least they get to appear in every episode, Martha and Lanie had little more than cameo appearances all season.
Castle is a really entertaining show to watch, but it’s increasingly becoming all charm and no substance. Doing it that way round at least means that I’ll continue to tune in every week, but I would like to see them attempt something just a bit deeper. I think everyone involved is more than capable and I’d just like to see a bit more ambition.