A Rant by Michael Shonk

CASTLE. ABC. Season Premiere: “Rise.” September 19, 2011. Monday at 10e/9c.

CASTLE Nathan Fillion

   I really want to like Castle. Everyone tells me how wonderful it is, the mysteries, the characters, the actors, the romance, but, sorry, I can’t make it through one episode without throwing something in anger at my TV. And I like my TV.

   For example, currently available on YouTube is this clip:

         CASTLE-4×01 Sneak peek (Episode 1 Comic Con Preview)

   Should the link stop working, the following is a detailed description of what happens:

   Visually we open with cuts between black screen and gunshot victim series female lead Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Beckett is unconscious on a moving hospital gurney. Shots start at extreme close up and pull back shot by shot. We hear the sound of the heart monitor beep despite that there is no machine anywhere to be seen. Finally we hear the sound of flat-lining and fade to black.

   BANG! Hospital doors fly open. We see two paramedics racing from one hallway into the next section of the long hallway.They are running with the gurney Beckett is on. Also on the gurney is Beckett’s best friend, Dr. Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) who is maintaining hand pressure on the bloody wound and ordering Beckett not to die.

   Cue violins in soundtrack.

   Cut to Beckett. Then Castle (Nathan Fillion) running to keep up. Still moving down the long hallway the camera intercutting between Lanie, her bloody hand and Beckett. Shot of hallway wall and help coming. More of the gurney ride. Help arrives and tells Lanie to let him take over.

    “She is my friend, you understand that? She’s my friend.”

CASTLE Nathan Fillion

    “Then let us save her life.”

   Lanie is standing in the hallway when Castle catches up and they watch the gurney continue its journey down the hallway. Laine and Castle look worried. Go to black.

   What the writers hope to accomplish with this scene is to make you feel the emotions of Lanie and Castle over the possible death of Beckett, and to do so in an exciting visual way. So what is wrong with this scene? Why is my TV shaking in fear as I look for something to throw?

   First, running is not visually exciting unless there is a threat of danger behind it. Becket is not going to die. The only danger is if Lanie falls off the gurney.

   Second, the scene is supposed to emotionally effect us. We should share the feelings of the characters. But everything is too over the top, from the soundtrack of the beeps from nowhere and sad TV music to the incredibly awful dialog such as “Then let us save her life.”

   Third, no hospital in any Universe would force an emergency patient to travel down a long hallway to get to the doctors. Beckett is a police officer with a gunshot wound and brought to the hospital by an ambulance. Wouldn’t the ambulance park closer to the Emergency Room? Wouldn’t someone have called ahead so emergency personnel would be waiting for the ambulance when it arrived? When every second could mean life or death, they take the scenic route.

CASTLE Nathan Fillion

   So, how did this melodramatic scene affect me? Well, when I stopped laughing at the Calvary charge down the endless hallway, I became annoyed that the writers held such little respect for the viewers they thought this manipulative scene would be so emotionally moving we would not notice how stupid it is.

   Jeopardy is an exciting powerful dramatic device that rarely works on television because TV writers are in denial that everyone knows stars don’t die without media spoilers.

   Castle and Beckett are the only two characters on Castle who can’t die or the series is over, This is why jeopardy is usually left to the supporting or guest cast, but who cares about them? Because the nature of the series format, jeopardy can still work but rarely involving death.

   While you don’t see it in the clip above, Castle did set up an effective season ending cliffhanger involving jeopardy. The death of supporting character Captain Montgomery left open the possibility new Captain Gates might interfere with Castle tagging along on murder investigations or even worse interfere with his on-again off-again romance with Beckett.

   Fans did not worry about Beckett possibly dying, but they did respond to the jeopardy Gates could cause Castle and Beckett’s relationship. Me, the thought of yet another logic defying obstacle to Castle and Beckett having sex is enough to have me whimpering for mercy.

   Yes, Castle is only a TV show. You just want to enjoy it, not think. It is just one scene of many. And the series is a comedy mystery where reality is an occasional visitor. But logic is still required. Riding a gurney with a dying woman down an extra long hospital hallway is so stupid it rips me out of the story and rudely reminds me I could be wasting my time more productively with another TV series.

   I really want to like Castle I really do, but my brain won’t let me.