Nathan Fillion’s latest show “Castle” could be okay

castlex-largeUSA Today reviews Nathan Fillion’s new show, which will hopefully, just maybe, quite possibly the charismatic actors big break (not counting Serenity, of course!). 

ABC’s Castle looks like another regular old procedural, with Fillion taking the Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote role as a mystery writer that, well, solves mysteries. 

He’s paired up with a NYPD detective and the two fight, flirt and solve murders just like Agent Booth and Brennon on Bones.  And it’s that chemistry that can make or break a show like this.

Such shows run on the appeal of their stars, and on that front, ABC has chosen well.

Like the best actors, Fillion has a gift for adding depth to what could have been a superficial character, letting you sense a layer of pain and grit right underneath Nick’s flightiness without diminishing the “bad-boy charm,” as his new partner puts it, of his fun-loving playboy.

It helps, by the way, that the writers have placed Nick in a household with his daughter and his mother, each designed to ensure he comes across as more sympathetic than annoying.

His bright-but-not-bratty daughter (Molly Quinn) provides support, while his Broadway star mother (an entertainingly grand Susan Sullivan) brings him back to earth and lets us see why being a better parent is one of Nick’s drives.

As for Katic, she may overplay her character’s stern annoyance at first, but she loosens up in later episodes. Plus, she’s an incredibly beautiful woman, which helps hold your attention until the wittier side comes to the fore and may distract you from the fact that her co-workers have yet to emerge from the bland background.

The plots vary in quality: A future story involving a dead nanny is a little better than tonight’s opener; another involving a body in a rug is a little worse.

None of the episodes is likely to keep you up at night puzzling out the intricacies of the mystery, but they won’t bore you or insult your intelligence. Castle exists to exploit the appeal of its stars and the amusing byplay between their characters, and it does that with admirable efficiency.

  Sometimes, that’s good enough.  I’m not the biggest fan of procedurals, but I can readily get sucked into them if the writing is passable, the quirks unique, and the actors willing to give it a go. 

Castle airs tonight on ABC at 10 p.m.  We’ll probably check it out tomorrow and give you a heads up if it’s worth your time. 

Also: If that wasn’t enough Nathan Fillion for one day, the AV Club has a pretty nifty interview with the actor.

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