Tuned In

TV Tonight: Failin' Fillion

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There’s a part of me that wants to just look the other way on ABCs Castle, wish the excellent Nathan Fillion well on finding continued employment and forget that it ever existed. But I suspect other Tuned Inlanders like Fillion as much as I do, and I owe it to them to lower their expectations, if not save them the hour altogether. 


The premise: Fillion plays Richard Castle, a murder-mystery novelist who gets drawn into a police investigation after a copycat killer starts mimicking murders in his books. He’s paired with Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic)—she’s a feisty one! but plays by the book!—the roguish, wisecracking Castle finds his intuitions, charm and personal connections to be useful in sleuthing, and decides he wants to keep on the police beat, the better to gather material. 

Fillion’s charm, as fans of Firefly and Dr. Horrible know, is that he’s an irresistible TV/movie type just slightly out of his time. (Even his hair recalls the early ’80s.) It’s not that they don’t make his kind of character anymore—they make it constantly, but usually not so well.

Unfortunately, the predictable, outdated Castle—which seems like it was made in 1987 as a lead-out for Moonlighting and preserved in a time capsule—falls under the “not so well” category. The flirtatious/pugilistic, will-they/won’t-they dynamic between Castle and Becket is one we’ve seen a million times, and it has not been reimagined in any way for the million-and-first. And at a time when there’s so much competition in the crime-procedural genre, Castle’s mysteries are inexcusably lame; the fact that Castle is a writer, and he and his writer friends can meta-comment on their lameness, does not make them any easier to watch. If you do not see the twists in tonight’s premiere case before they happen, you have probably also been in a time capsule since 1987. 

It’s a shame, because you could see the attraction of casting Fillion in this role, if it were better-imagined and -executed. But seeing him updating Han Solo as Capt. Mal was one thing; watching him as a David Addison retread is another. Sorry, browncoats: there’s still time to rent Firefly.