Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forgettable TV

I watch a lot of TV. Too much TV. And yet, when I hear people recommend shows I've given a pass, I'm curious. And not wanting to miss out on something potentially great, I sometimes try to catch up.

I've done that with two series, lately. The Good Wife and Castle.

While I wasn't drawn into The Good Wife immediately, it really grew on me with the complexity of the characters and situations, and the truly outstanding actors and performances. And I love that there aren't any fully "good" or "bad" characters.  Love all the moral ambiguity in this show. This is one I wish I'd watched from the start and need to hunt down the episodes from this season that I missed, so I can get fully caught up. (When did the Lily Taylor character first appear? Love her...)

Castle, on the other hand, I really wanted to like from the start. And I do remember watching the pilot and thought I'd stopped watching soon after that. But, hearing that the show has lots of fans among other writers, I thought I needed to give it another chance and so I rented the first season. Watched them  this weekend in record time. Why record time? Because I quickly realized I'd seen them all before. I'd forgotten I'd watched the entire first season. I clearly found it so forgettable, I, well, forgot I'd seen it.

I'm trying to figure out why I found it so forgettable...

Nathan Fillion is infinitely likable and adorable and so is his Richard Castle character. And I really think they do capture the "writer thing" very well. Not that I know what it's like to be a mega-bestseller, but so many of the writer details ring true. Some of the dialogue and banter is great and the one liners can be clever. I do find myself believing that Nathan Fillion is a writer and not Captain Mal from Firefly. And that's no small feat.

I also like the mother and daughter characters, even if they feel slightly stereotypical to me. But as of the end of the first season, nothing very interesting has happened with either of these characters. Unlike TGW where the family and other secondary characters have depth and layers, these two just seem to be there so that Castle has someone to tell the details of the case-of-the-week to. And all the other bits of business (mother exploiting his fame and throwing parties, daughter being ridiculously responsible and cute) had no arc or nuance. (To be fair, the first season was only 10 episodes long, but even given the short season, not much happened... Really... do we know much more at the end of the first season that we didn't already know or see coming in the pilot? Or even the trailer for the series? Perhaps this is why my memory tricked me into thinking I'd only seen the pilot.)

The detective I find slightly less appealing. Beckett. That's her name, right? See, I forgot. I haven't found her character all that interesting or even consistent. She seems to go from no-nonsense-obsessed-with-difficult-case girl to drop-a-sexual-innuendo-into-every-second-sentence girl at the drop of a hat.  But again... Something happened in the very last episode of the first season that hinted that more interesting things ahead for her... And I can maybe buy that she's supposed to be a bit of a mystery for the Castle character to work out... But still, I remain underwhelmed.

Perhaps it's a pacing thing for me. I'm not into murder-of-the-week style shows that much, so for a show in this genre to work for me, (like Dexter, for example), there has to be an overarching story that's also paced well and juicy enough to draw me from week to week. For me, only *hinting* at the major character arcs and internal conflicts (other than the obvious: they want to sleep with each other) by the end of the tenth episode isn't quick enough.

What I want to know now is... Should I watch season 2? I have to admit that when I rented Season 1, I thought the current season was 2... I didn't realize how far behind I was... But who knows, maybe I blocked out Season 2, too? (I don't think so... with hindsight, I think I gave up part way into 2, not part way into 1 as I'd first thought.)

Castle fans... Is it worth getting caught up?

If season 1 was just a tease and it gets better... let me know. I still mostly want to like this show, even though I forgot I'd seen an entire season.


Kwana said...

Thanks Maureen. I have the same feeling as you about both shows. I keep trying with Castle because of my Nathan love but I can't. I do like The Good Wife but don't have time to watch. Will have to catch up later.

Eileen said...

I do love Castle, but based on what you're saying, you shouldn't waste your time. They started to have an overarching mystery thing (the murder of Beckett's mother) and then dropped it like a hot potato.

I like the fun banter and goofy cases. They pretty much had my heart during the first season when Castle's new book comes out and his mother calls to tell him that no one is buying it at the bookstore where she's standing. I have some "helpful" semi-relatives like that. :-)

Speaking of books, though, we bought the "Richard Castle" book that came out last year. Reading a book by a fictional character who is supposedly fictionalizing his real-life experiences was sort of a double meta experience. :-)

Oh, and The Good Wife remains superb. I just love it.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yes, I think it would make me crazy that they dropped that mystery about her mother, because that starting at the end of the first season is what made me think it might get more interesting for me.

I enjoy the banter, too and have a feeling if I watched more I'd eventually get drawn in, but not sure I want to... I, too, found that episode you're talking about when his book came out funny. The bad review in some obscure newspaper, too... :)

I think if I didn't have so many other weekly must sees I'd enjoy this one more. Seems that these days TV for me either has to be mind-blowing or mindless. Mad Men or America's Next Top Model. No in-betweens. ;)

Stephanie Doyle said...

I liked Good Wife - but it's one of those shows I keep missing. Must remember to DVR!

Castle I gave up on. I can't do the - we're so hot for each other - but we're NOT going to sleep with each other thing.

Bones was the only show that gave me a legitimate reason to believe the long slow growth of the "romantic" element - they both had so many issues to overcome.

But then of course the creater blew it to hell with the "other" woman storyline. You know so they could drag it out another season. Ughh!!!

I would almost say - drop the romance entirely. Can't they just be a man and woman working together... but then I remembered X-Files. Chris Carter tried really hard... but in the end he caved. That didn't work either becuase of instead of growing towards it, it suddenly happened.

Don't get me started on TV. I'm down to like 4 shows and Boardwalk Empire only has 3 episodes left!

Eileen said...

So has anybody seen Terriers? It's a recovering alcoholic ex-cop and his trying-to-go-straight former B&E guy partner running a detective agency. Good banter. Good relationship drama. Goofy cases. I'm loving Donal Logue in it and frankly adore the theme song (is that a terrible reason to watch a TV show?).

Maureen McGowan said...

I've never even heard of it, Eileen. What channel is it on? Perhaps we don't get it up here, although these days it's so easy to miss hearing about a new show with so many channels.
I love Donnel Logue, too.

Maureen McGowan said...

I mean Donal

Eileen said...

I think it's on FX. It got very little press. A friend told us about it. Seriously, it's worth it just for that theme song. I'm trying to talk Andy into having his band play it.

Molly O'Keefe said...

You know - right now I'm with Steph - I'm watching Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Glee and way way way too much war programming. That's it. OH!!! And Springsteen was on Jimmie Fallon the other night for an hour he played Because The Night (one of my favotire springsteen songs) with The ROOTS! And it killed!!!! After it was over the whole band looked at each other like "What the hell just happened?" It was amazing. I might just watch that every night until something better comes along.

Eileen - i just saw some of that show you're talking about - I think Adam is getting into it.

Molly O'Keefe said...

that's one of those comments that puts a finger on how bad my punctuation is - they did not play Because The Night for an hour - he was on the show for an hour. Honestly, one of these days I'm going to learn about commas.

Eileen said...

Pah. Punctuation. Who needs it? It takes all the mystery out of reading. :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

Eileen, you just made me spit out my coffee.

No more commas. They take the mystery out of reading. LOL

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