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Featured TV on DVD Review: Castle: Season Two

September 16th, 2010

Castle: Season Two - Buy from Amazon

Castle entered the incredibly competitive world of Police Procedural shows in 2009 as a midseason replacement. I reviewed the previous release and my only real complaint was the short running time, which made the price-per-minute a little out of whack. This would not be an issue this time around, but can the show maintain its high quality level?

The Show

First a brief summary of the show's set up. Nathan Fillion stars as Richard Castle, a writer who manages to worm his way onto the police department to do research for his next line of murder mystery books, Nikki Heat, which are based on Detective Beckett. Most of the show revolves around the crimes and the interplay between Castle and Beckett, as well as the other cops. (There's Esposito and Ryan, the two fellow detectives, Dr. Lanie Parish and Dr. Sidney Perlmutter the medical examiners, and Captain Roy Montgomery who is Beckett et al's supervisor.) However, we also see a lot of his home life with his flighty actress mother, Martha Rodgers, and his wise-beyond-her-years daughter, Molly Quinn.

The cases are mostly one-offs involving everything from drug smuggling, loan sharks, ogranized crime, etc., but range to the more unusual, involving fashion models, a museum curator and vampires. There are also a few cases involving the ongoing investigation of the murder of Kate Beckett's mother, a case that nearly drove her over the edge the first time she investigated it. Meanwhile, a lot of episodes deal with the relationship between Castle and Beckett, which has its ups and downs. (This is a subject they will obviously tease out for as long as possible, but with good writing, and excellent chemistry, it should still be engaging several years from now.)

Some of the best episodes include Fool Me Once, which involves a con man who was pretending to be on an expedition in the arctic and who was killed on camera, maybe. There are so many twists here, but each one is just more and more fun. Vampire Weekend is both unusual in its nature, and very emotional as well. The Fifth Bullet guest stars Marc Blucas as an amnesiac involved in a murder, possibly as a witness, possibly as the killer. A Rose for Everafter has another great guest star, this time Alyssa Milano as an ex-flame of Castle. Sucker Punch delves into the murder of Kate Beckett's mother, and as such, has some of the most emotional heart in the entire seasons. The two-part Tick, Tick, Tickā€¦ and Boom! has Beckett becoming the center of an obsessed Nikki Heat and Dana Delany has a guest shot as an FBI woman leading the investigation. The Mistress Always Spanks Twice... okay, maybe not one of the best episodes of the season, but it has the best quote from Dr. Lanie. I won't spoil it here, but it ends with Castle asking, "Does she know we can hear her?" (On a side note, I 100% agree with Lanie. ... For those that remember the quote, that might be too much information.) Finally, there's A Deadly Game the season finale. Here the mystery isn't as important as the evolving relationship between Castle and Beckett, which sets up season three nicely.

In my previous review, I compared this show to The Mentalist giving this show the win by a tiny margin. The Mentalist has better chemistry between the cops, but Castle has the advantage of looking in on Richard Castle's family. (Both Susan Sullivan and Molly Quinn add something that is missing in a lot of similar shows, and their chemistry with Nathan Fillion is a huge bonus.) However, this year something changed. Castle is still the better show, but I think the overall chemistry between the cops has improved to the point where it is better than it is on The Mentalist. I still like the skeptical angle in The Mentalist; how someone who used to pretend to have psychic powers is now using his very natural abilities to solve crimes while pointing out how the scam artists do their tricks.

In Fool Me Once the characters talk about con movies and there's a quote. "There's something about a well played con that makes you want to tip your hat." I bring this scene up because not only have I seen every con movie they talked about, but the way they talk about cons movies meshes perfectly with my opinion. Since I obviously share the same sensibilities as the makers of the show, it should come as no surprise that I consider Castle to be one of the best primetime network TV shows currently on air.

The Extras

Extras on the five-disc set are pretty weak for a concurrent show. There are a few featurettes starting with On the Set with Seamus & Jon, which is a set tour with the two actors that play Esposito and Ryan. On Location with Nathan is a behind-the-scenes tour of a location shoot with Nathan Fillion annoying some of the crew. Manhattan's Most Unusual Murders talks about the unusual nature of most of the murders that happen in the show. There are two-and-a-half minutes of outtakes, three deleted scenes, and finally two music videos from the episode Famous Last Words.

Sadly, there are no audio commentary tracks, which is a shame as season one had four of them.

The Verdict

The actual episodes from Castle: Season Two are an improvement over season one, but the DVD has weaker extras. That said, it is still absolutely worth picking up, but with a full compliment of extras, it would have easily been a contender for Pick of the Week.

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