Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Castle and Incestuous Guest Stars

So I mentioned a while back that I'd started watching Warehouse 13 on SyFy. It's a fun show. Stars Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly have a nice chemistry, and Kelly handles the role of straight woman to McClintock's clown with grace. But she also sometimes has a grating quality, and there's a weird twist to her mouth that puts me off sometimes.

So then I started watching The Dresden Files, and there was this episode with this absolutely gorgeous female vampire named Bianca. Of course, I noticed early in that the lighting and make-up seemed designed to give her an unearthly sheen, almost glowing in every scene she's in, and I figured it was a subtle hint at vampire magic or something (that was really a pretty decent show). But there was something familiar about the twist to her mouth in certain scenes. I figured I had to have seen her before somewhere.

Yeah. Joanne Kelly again. But really hot this time.

Speaking of television, I decided to give Castle another shot. I caught one episode during its regular season, and I was underwhelmed. If you'd asked me yesterday what put me off about it, I couldn't put my finger on it, but something had rubbed me the wrong way about the show on the one episode I caught.

But I have friends who like it, so I thought I'd give it another chance. So I found it on Hulu and picked at random an episode titled "Always Buy Retail." I sat back determined to watch with an open mind.

And I can see why people might like it. Nathan Fillion, after all, is talented and charismatic, and has appeared on several fan favorites, like Firefly and Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. And the writing isn't completely horrible; there's some witty dialogue and stuff.

But as it turns out, it the episode I picked first was the one episode I'd seen before. The series premise: Castle is a mystery writer who follows NYPD detective Kate Beckett around, with the intention of using her as source material for his next book. This episode's plot: someone is killing people and performing voodoo rituals over their corpses in the attempt to find a mysterious something. And I remembered all the reasons I hadn't liked the show.

Reason the First: the dialogue is too cute, and the writers are too impressed with their own cuteness. Early on, Castle sleeps with his ex-wife, then immediately regrets it, and in relating his problems to Beckett and her partners, Exposition Detectives 1, 2, and 3 (hereinafter referred to as ED 01, ED 02, and ED 03), describes his ex-wife as a "deep-fried Twinkie," a guilty pleasure that's fantastic in limited doses, but sickening when indulged in every day. Witty, but not witty enough for them to keep repeating the damn catch-phrase throughout the rest of the episode.

Reason the Second: this being an ABC show, the PC is so thick, you'd need a machete to hack your way through. When they discover the first body, Castle mentions that it looks like a voodoo ritual. Only he pronounces it "voe-doo," because any good PC lib nowadays has got to use affected pronunciations of foreign terms to show how intellectually superior he is, like "Pokeestan" or "Hava(choke)ee."

And then just to show that the cops aren't conservative retards stuck in the 40's (and also to fullfill the EDs' roles), they don't respond with, "What, you mean 'voodoo'? The zombie thing?" No, one ED blinks stupidly and says, "What's that, some kind of Star Trek thing?" and another busts out with, "It's a religion practiced primarily in West Africa." And it goes on like that for the rest of the episode: normal white people who, one would assume, have seen a zombie movie or two, yet are completely ignorant of even the concept of voodoo, while their intellectual betters tell them how peaceful and spiritual the religion is and how it gets a bad rap in the media (media that these people never watch, apparently). Doesn't matter; the voodoo thing is a red herring anyway. It's all about drugs and forged documents and shit.

(ETA: Rereading this, I think I emphasize "white people" too much -- it's not so much that I'm racist as I'm tired of the fictional trope that people of color are so much more spiritually aware than us white goobs, so we must constantly be preached to and educated - it's condescending)

Reason the Third: EDs. They exist for no reason other than to ask stupid questions for the benefit of the audience and to be impressed by Castle's wit, which they then repeat endlessly throughout the rest of the show (okay, that's sort of going back to Reason the First, but I just got real tired of "deep-fried Twinkie" after a while).

Reason the Fourth: Castle is an idiot. He shows up mid-episode with a Kevlar vest which he has emplazoned with the word "WRITER" (to match the cops' vests which bear the term "POLICE"). Later, he brings a champagne bottle to a gunfight.

Reason the Fifth: As stupid as Castle is, he's smarter than the cops.

So anyway, I got bored later in the evening and tried another Castle episode, titled "Ghosts." Not as bad the first one, I've gotta say, although I saw the big twist coming from very early on. But here's the thing: at one point, Castle and Beckett run into another writer who has been interviewing the murder victim. And guess who plays the writer?

That's right, Joanne Kelly again. Three weeks ago, I'd never heard of this woman, now I can't get away from her. I think she's stalking me. Corinne Bohrer is concerned.

But seeing Joanne Kelly all over the place reminded me that Warehouse 13 has its own guest star problem. Eight episodes in, and they can't stop stunt-casting actors from their other shows. Stars of Eureka and (now cancelled) Stargate Atlantis have appeared already (and maybe someone else I can't remember) (ETA: A ha! Tricia Helfer from Battlestar Galactica also did an episode), and another Eureka star will appear on next week's episode.

I know this is a general condition of television, but for some reason it seems more pronounced with Warehouse 13 (though maybe only because I've run into the Joanne Kelly thing lately, plus the chick from Farscape on another episode of The Dresden Files- maybe they're all just running together in my head).

No comments: