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Friday, 20 May 2011
TV: CASTLE -METATEXTING
I make no bones (TV crime series pun) about this: Castle is a lightweight crime comedy/drama series which I wouldn't watch if it didn't star Nathan Fillion who possesses an enormous wry self-deprecating charm. It's also helped by a good performance from Stana Katic as the co-lead, and a good supporting cast.
In case you aren't familiar with it, here's the setup which is lifted completely from the Wikipaedia entry on the series:
Castle follows Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a famous mystery novelist who has killed off his main character in his book series and has writer's block. He is called in to help the NYPD solve a copy-cat murder based on one of his novels. Stana Katic co-stars as Detective Kate Beckett. Castle, who becomes interested in Beckett as a potential character for a new book series, uses his connections at the mayor's office and receives permission to continue accompanying Beckett while investigating cases. Castle decides to use Beckett as the model for the main character of his next book series starring "Nikki Heat". Beckett, an avid reader of Castle's books, initially disapproves of having Castle shadow her on her cases, but later warms up and recognizes Castle as a useful resource in solving crimes.
I just watched the latest episode on cable and the writer must have loved it when they accepted the script idea. But let's just go over that summary again from a slightly different angle. Fictional writer of crime fiction (Castle) teams up with a fictional NYPD detective (Beckett) for background on his new fictional series about a fictional NYPD detective (Nikki Heat) who has a lover called Rook (rook, castle, geddit?) and the resulting series of books becomes a success.
Now, in this latest episode, fictional within a fiction Nikki Heat (the novel) is being turned into a fictional movie (within a TV series) starring a blonde scream queen actress who turns up to shadow Beckett. This meta-text would be good enough but the fictional actress turns out to be a good method actress (as is the real actress playing her whose name I didn't take note of, silly me) and gradually becomes Beckett over the course of the episode so that she almost takes over from Beckett and Beckett who started out liking the woman ends up resenting her. There's also an amusing byplay with Castle whom she at first ignores because she didn't need to read the book as the screenplay is 'brilliant' and differs considerably from the novel. This attitude changes to such a degree that she wants to fuck Castle so as to experience the full intensity of the relationship between Heat and Rook.
This entire episode had me in stitches, partly because of the meta-texting but also because it was so funny and that the guest star* was so good and so gorgeous. (If anyone knows who she was, let me know please. I'm currently watching the first season of Chuck on DVD and came across another attractive actress who was just as good in a two-part guest roll called Rachel Bilson and had better chemistry with the lead than the lead actress.)
I've also recently learned that fictional writer Richard Castle has had published three Nikki Heat novels and there will also be a graphic novel written by him (in this case it's really Brian Bendis). I may actually check out that first novel.
Post Script. *Just found out that the actress is called Laura Prepon, of whom I've never heard but if there is any justice I will in future. Like Dana Delany a few episodes ago, she stole the show. Here she is with Fillion.