Castle: Need to Know, Review

Castle phones it in.


CASTLE has had an interesting run so far in its sixth season with Beckett in Washington and Rick staying in the Big Apple. But the strain of the distance is starting to really hurt the gelling of the show. Can we really continue this long distance relationship? Before we get to the rug-pull of an ending, Den of Geek dives right into this week’s murder. The Feds and guys at the 12th merge on the death of former child star Charlie Reynolds. Clearly taking a shot at Saved by the Bell‘sScreech, Charlie was the runaway star of the early 90’s sitcom “2 Cool For School” where his catch phrase “hubba hubba” swept the nation. Somebody wanted him dead and he wound up on the hook. Literally, on a giant mechanized hook from a crane. Was it a suicide attempt for the once-famous actor or is something more dastardly at the heart of his death?

Castle is anxious to dig into his first big high-profile case without Beckett. However some seriously lazy writing has Beckett and McCord (Lisa Edelstein) fly in from Washington to usurp the NYPD and include them on a “need to know” basis. Kind of lame but I ran with it because hey, the gang is back together. Thrown into the mix is Beckett’s replacement, Frank “Sully” Sullivan (Joshua Bitton). He’s a likable enough of a character but his enthusiasm as a young turk on the rise adds nothing to the show despite his best efforts. Clearly milking the Saved by the Bell angle, Antonio Sabator, Jr. guest stars as Ramon Russo, in what is obviously supposed to be the Mario Lopez character from the dusty series they are desperately trying to reboot. It turns out that 2 Cool for School is a huge deal in the former Soviet Republic (think David Hasselhoff and Germany). But with Charlie Reynolds and his catchphrase out of the mix with his slaying, the show may have to be all about the Russians and their investment in resuscitating the dormant franchise. Wow, now that I write this I realize that it was really an off-their-game-show for Castle and company.

The key to the story is finding out what exactly an Urkel-type character being offed has to do with national security. But by the forty minute mark, I really did not care. Which is rare for me, I watched Seasons one through five countless times over the years and know them backwards and forwards. The occasional misfire is expected on any hour-long network drama, but I felt like the actors were phoning it in. Besides Esposito and Ryan doing their usual funny banter there is really nothing that made me take notice. Castle is at its worst when it tries to be more than it is. Castle is not Jack Bauer and, frankly, we like it that way. He is a mystery writer that spins yarns out of real-life crime but even Rick Castle could not write a good story about this.

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The absurdity continued to the end with a subplot that had the deceased thespian in cahoots with the CIA and gun-smuggling with the Russians. A out-of-work actor gun-running as a CIA operative? I know what you are thinking, just plain lazy. In the end (which could not come fast enough), I think that they took the easy way out. Apparently Charlie was great at staying alive around spies and the Russian mob, but his old acting buddies turn out to be killers. When Castle reveals that he has found a place for them in D.C, Beckett is elated for a moment before being fired by Agent McCord. Yup, the agency that was training her to be an elite operative was wise enough to know that she was the one who called in the tip that saved Charlie’s Russian girlfriend from her family, who just happen to be mobsters. It looks like, with this firing, Castle can move forward now and stop this long-distance nonsense. It doesn’t work in real life either. Next week, back to New York City! Finally things can get back to normal.

Den of Geek Rating: 1 Out of 5 Stars 

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1 out of 5