A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this crime drama about a novelist (who also happens to be a devoted single dad) who tags along with a detective as she investigates crimes is much less violent -- and more lighthearted -- than intense procedural series like CSI. Many of the cases do involve murder, so some crime scenes feature shots of corpses, but there's little gore. Some episodes also include discussions about the sexual habits of both victims and suspects, and there's romantic tension between the main characters. Expect some social drinking.
What's the story?
Suffering from writer's block, successful crime novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) tags along with an NYPD detective hoping for inspiration. Though his partner, Kate Becket (Stana Katic), repeatedly tells him that he's only there to observe, the irrepressible Castle can't refrain from offering his opinions. Given his lack of police training and his background as a fiction writer, his ideas tend to go against the grain -- but they still display a keen understanding of human nature. These insights often take the pair's investigations in unusual directions and sometimes lead to important breakthroughs.
Is it any good?
Fillion is the main reason to watch CASTLE. Charming and witty, his character brings some fun to what's otherwise a fairly standard cop procedural. As a fiction writer, his point of departure when examining a crime is to assume that the most unlikely, impossible-sounding explanation is what happened -- in other words, the exact opposite of his detective counterpart, who starts with the facts and moves on from there. Their interactions, as Becket dismisses Castle's outlandish suggestions and then slowly concedes he might have a point, are the best part of the show.
The weak points are the crimes themselves, which are often so formulaic that any veteran viewer of TV cop shows can immediately tell which suspects are red herrings and which minor characters will be back in the final act. Still, TV police squad rooms tend to be environments filled with stress and uncertainty, as the cops try to fit together meager clues; introducing a writer to mix up this well-known environment is a fun twist that elevates Castle from mediocrity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this kind of crime show is more appealing than one like CSI. If so, why? Do crimes like murder seem less upsetting in this context? What's the impact of seeing violence on television?
Do you think Castle’s crime theories are believable or crazy? Even if you don’t find his ideas plausible, does the show telegraph the fact that his wild hypotheses will likely turn out to be true?
Families can discuss why so many TV shows revolve around "odd couple" pairings. Is it just a way to generate conflict? Do you think odd-couple partnerships are better for drama shows or comedies? Can you think of any real-life odd couples?
For kids who love intrigue
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