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Friday, September 13, 2013

DVD: Castle Season 5

If you're a fan of light murder mysteries and/or Nathan Fillion, get on board the castle train!

I've been watching Castle since its start, mostly on the draw of the lead performer, Nathan Fillion, and thus far, I haven't been disappointed. If you've been watching and haven't seen season 5 yet, fair warning, spoilers ahead.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Castle is the story of an over-the-top mystery writer who, having pulled strings with his friend, the Mayor of NYC, is allowed to shadow one of New York's finest, a murder detective, through various cases to gain inspiration. He also ends up being a sort of murder consultant, à la Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote. I guess that makes Fillion the modern Angela Landsbury.

This season, Castle does the tricky dance of breaking the sexual tension between the two leads, Castle and Beckett (Stana Katic), that's been building for four seasons. It's fairly well known that in a TV series where there is a potential romance, fulfilling that romance can deep six the chemistry lickity-split. Thankfully, that doesn't happen in Castle. First, the sexual tension is replaced with a tension of trying hard not to reveal their relationship to the police captain (Captain Victoria Gates, ably portrayed by Penny Thompson). The presumption being that at best, since Captain Gates hates Castle, she would throw the book at them, forcing Castle out of her precinct. At worst? Beckett could be fired from the only job she's ever wanted.

I won't go so far as to reveal the end of the season. Suffice to say, though, there will be new challenges for the writers in season 6, to avoid jumping the shark.

Now, the DVD set itself. This is a great set of 5 discs, fully produced including bonus features on each. There are a good number of deleted scenes, and a clutch of commentary tracks. The most fun one of those for me is with the costume designer, Nathan Fillion, and Jonathan Frakes for the episode The Final Frontier. Frakes, who may be best known for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Commander William T. Riker, has also made a name for himself as a director. He has directed three episodes of Castle to date, but this episode adds an extra dose of fun, as the mystery takes place at a fictional version of ComicCon. The episode is packed with sci-fi references (or easter eggs, as they mention in the commentary), not the least of which is an uncredited cameo by Frakes at the top of the episode. Also notable is Armin Shimerman (Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as the nerdy mad scientist who creates a working phaser pistol. The commentary is delightful, Frakes' and Fillion's voices are fantastic to listen to, especially considering that it's recorded in Fillion's home on his own equipment. Although it's likely that Fillion has more than just a Radio Shack mic.

A couple of other items are included in the package: an ad for the Richard Castle novels referenced in the series (a nice touch where fiction meets reality), there are apparently Castle comics and a video game, and a trading card and special card for the Castle Detective Game. That last item was my favorite, not because in and of itself it was great, but because I didn't know that such a game existed, and good on ABC for making a tabletop game to go with a series.

Overall, then, the production of the discs is top notch, but nothing out of the ordinary. If you enjoy the series, but haven't seen season 5, this is a fine way to see it. If you have seen the whole series to date, and want to own it but don't prefer a Blu-Ray disc, this will do the job, quite well. If you haven't seen the series, I highly encourage you to start from the beginning. Although this is a procedural mystery/cop drama/comedy series, there is definitely an arc to the story, so you're better off starting from the beginning.

Castle: The Complete Fifth Season
ABC Studios

9 out of 10 beasts

You also might be interested in:

Castle Season 1-4 Box Set

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