Nathan Fillion may not be a household name, but he's darn close to it. Crazy popular among science fiction/fantasy fans for his starring role in Joss Whedon's series Firefly (and its subsequent feature film Serenity), his amusing turn in Whedon's online musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog (pictured, right), and his humorous he-man in the gloriously goopy film Slither, Fillion has been poised on the edge of ubiquitous fame for a while now. He was also delightful in the late director Adrienne Shelley's charming feature Waitress (left) -- if you haven't seen it, do. Many viewers know him from his recent role on Desperate Housewives, and now ABC has set him up in his own series called Castle, premiering tonight on ABC.
Castle has a premise that's certainly not breaking any new ground. Whether you call it "Moonlighting Meets Murder She Wrote" or something similarly waggish, it's basically a "he said-she said" romance novel-esque bickering-but-meant-for-each-other couple mashed up with a police procedural. Nathan Fillion plays Richard Castle, a successful mystery writer, a little bored, bad case of writer's block, looking for inspiration...blah blah blah. You can see this coming: somebody's doing copycat killings based on his books, he gets himself hooked up with a female detective and ends up fashioning a new character after her. Stana Katic (she was in one of the Librarian movies which played on the network which must not be named, and lots of other TV work) is Detective Kate -- and will there ever come a time when a strong female character with loads of spunk won't be named after Kate Hepburn? -- Beckett, a NYPD veteran with loads of...spunk, what else?
I haven't seen the pilot except for the first segment (which is online at ABC's Castle site), but I must admit that the promos are no great shakes. Not sure I see much chemistry between the two leads, and that's pretty distressing since that's the whole point of the series. However, any opportunity to see Nathan Fillion doing his smart-funny-masculine thing is to be cherished. Do we need another police procedural? Probably not. They basically all sound the same -- awful and lame. Could dialogue get any worse? Please, no. On the other hand, do we want to see more playful verbal foreplay between two people who are destined to end up in bed? Perhaps...
ABC is giving Castle a big send-off, positioning it behind their new season of Dancing With The Stars which also premieres tonight. DWTS begins the night at 8pm, with Castle at 10pm.
We'd say give Castle a chance. It's a break-out opportunity for Nathan Fillion who definitely has earned it and most importantly is up to it. We might have hoped for something less derivative, but this is mainstream network television, after all. The show looks great, of course. In another era Fillion might have been a Cary Grant or a Clark Gable, but even if all 2009 can manage is turning him into Jessica Fletcher with balls, what the hell...bring 'em on!
Visit ABC's Castle website for more information.