Thursday, July 25, 2013

The "Greatest American Hero" was a teacher.

I used to watch "The Greatest American Hero" when I was a kid.  I had very fond memories.  A couple of years ago (after finding "Sledgehammer") I queued it up on Netflix.  It came.  Memories were shattered.  If only it was as good as campy.  It was so bad my children wouldn't even watch it.  No matter, I still have [some of] my memories.

One of things I remember is Robert Culp as the FBI agent.  He was cool.  Since I couldn't fly (not just because the instruction book was lost) I would often either be him when we all were playing, or I would be working with him or out to rescue him when it was just me and my over-developed imagination.  Whichever way it went, being an FBI agent was where it was at.  If you had told me
 then that I would feel the way I do today about having to go to a meeting in the J. Edgar Hoover building, I'd have laughed at you.  Until you told me how early I would have to get up to catch the series of trains that would get me there on time for it.  I suspect that if it was scheduled for two hours later I'd have a completely attitude.  Then again, maybe not.  Getting through security is always a pain in the neck.

Of course this "Must See TV Thursday" isn't about "The Greatest American Hero".  Nope, it's about "Castle".  Sorry, you are probably sick of it but I saw the niftiest trick last night in the episode titled "A Rose for Everafter".  It was a total character piece; Richard meets up with "the one who got away" because one of her bridesmaids is murdered just before the wedding.  There is still a lot of chemistry so the bulk of the show is about why he is so shallow most of the time now - the depth of feeling he is capable of and the reason why he doesn't bother with it.

The perspective changes a bit, but I really felt that the perspective of the narrative was primarily that of Kate Beckett - the plot drive was her discovering him and her feelings for him through this woman that comes out of nowhere and shakes up her world.  The scenes with Beckett and the Bride are very well done.  Kate is clearly learning about herself and trying desperately to control her emotions.

The episode was written very well - there's a rule in TV that goes something like, "Keep Mulder and Scully apart for as long as possible".  This tale brought Castle and Beckett so close together that it was clear to anyone watching she is falling for him in a big way BUT the writers still managed to keep them apart.  That's not the trick though.

The trick was how they closed up the mystery.  Since the bulk of the episode was about love, not murder, there wasn't much time spent on the case itself.  We got clues but they were ambiguous and mostly about whom the victim was.  When it came time for the big reveal, you had no chance to get it - just luck - so they introduced the last bit with Detective Ryan announcing, "I've got the surveillance tape and you are never going to guess who it is."

That clear, that on-the-nose.  "You'll never guess."  I'm about to give you a big, unsatisfying reveal that essentially ties up all of the loose ends with coincidence (huge no-no) and I'm drawing attention to that fact.  Yet it worked.  Exceedingly well.  Totally believable.  The line was delivered in the right way by the right character and although it was a bit Scooby-Dooish, the explanation of the crime was reasonable and fit the clues of the story.  You could say they got away with it DESPITE the meddling kids and their mangy dog.

It isn't the sort of thing you can get away with every week, but here it worked.  I think it's part of the other rule of all fiction writing - "You get one gimmie".  You can have one totally far-fetched, impossible, no-way thing in your story.  As long as you execute it well.  In this episode, running into the ex-girlfriend at her high-society wedding was completely believable - no coincidence involved - and just to make sure, we get bonus dialogue with Rick and the bride's mother (after her character has already been established) showing how she and Castle feel about each other.

I'm a little worried about where this is going though - with so many seasons ahead, there’s the hint that this will turn into a "Hart to Hart" and that will completely change the show's [very high performance] engine.


  1. Having never seen Heart to Heart (or 'Hart to Hart') as it is titled on IMDB, I can't speak to that...but the engine of Castle stays in excellent shape. It needs a bit tuning now and then but as long as Castle keeps getting Beckett pissed off at him, it stays relatively well oiled.

    1. Great news about Castle -thanks for the spoiler free heads-up. As for calling me out on spelling "Hart to Hart" wrong... thank you.

  2. If you haven't already, you would probably enjoy the writing of 'lawdog' -

    I'd suggest starting with 'Pink Gorilla Suit'