CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
TV Review: ‘Castle’ Continues to Improve With Season-Two Premiere
CHICAGO – Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic bring their spectacular chemistry back for another season of the increasingly enjoyable “Castle,” a mystery-of-the-week show distinguished by excellent writing and some of the best lead chemistry on television.
Television Rating: 4.0/5.0
“The Mentalist” was the true phenomenon of the 2008-2009 season but, believe it or not, there were a few other new programs that survived for a sophomore year and “Castle” is one of the best. Not only has the rhythm of the ensemble improved from week to week but the actual mysteries have become as intriguing as any “CSI” or “Law & Order” installment.
ABC’s “Castle” stars Ruben Santiago-Hudson as NYPD Captain Roy Montgomery, Susan Sullivan as Martha Rodgers, Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle, Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, Stana Katic as NYPD Detective Kate Beckett, Tamala Jones as Medical Examiner Lanie Parish, Jon Huertas as NYPD Detective Javier Esposito and Seamus Dever as NYPD Detective Kevin Ryan.
Photo credit: ABC/Bob D’Amico
Fillion stars as mystery novelist Richard Castle, someone bored by his own characters and his own success but fascinated by NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (the beautiful Stana Katic), the professional that he tags along with in order to juice up his writing career. The story is that he’s there because the lead in his new novel will be based on Detective Beckett, but he also clearly has strong feelings for her and loves the thrill of real-life mystery.
“Deep in Death” — When the new season begins, Castle (Nathan Fillion) is wrestling with how to repair his relationship with Beckett (Stana Katic), while struggling to finish his soon-to-be-published bestseller, Heat Wave. But circumstances force the pair back together to investigate the mysterious murder of a man found dead, tangled in the limbs of a tree. The Season Two premiere of “Castle” airs MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 (10:01-11:00 p.m. ET) on ABC. Authors Stephen J. Cannell and Michael Connelly guest star as themselves in the episode.
Photo credit: ABC/Michael Desmond
Castle and Beckett are a classic TV pairing. The funny-and-flirtatious Castle constantly rubs the by-the-numbers Beckett the wrong way, but their “good cop, bad writer” routine works to solve crimes. And it doesn’t hurt that the two actors are simply perfect together, selling both the professional and personal aspects of their characters.
In the second season premiere, the team finds a strangled body in a tree and, while transporting it to someplace more appropriate, are actually hijacked by masked men and the stiff is stolen. Who would steal a dead body? The resulting case takes Beckett and Castle into an underground Russian poker game in Chinatown. It’s a clever mystery that allows both Fillion and Katic a chance to steal the episode.
More importantly, Beckett is still getting over the perceived betrayal at the end of last season when Castle had the nerve to investigate her mother’s murder against her wishes. Meanwhile, a reporter doing a story on Castle proves that the mystery writer isn’t the most annoying ride-along in town.
Even the supporting cast of “Castle” has seen some improvement. Characters played by Susan Sullivan and Molly C. Quinn have both become more interesting and the supporting cast at the NYPD have all become more well-defined and well-rounded including Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Tamala Jones, Jon Huertas, and Seamus Dever.
There was one nagging element about season one of “Castle” that still rubs me the wrong way from time to time. The show doesn’t feel set in NYC. It doesn’t have the grit of the Big Apple and with its party and lady-loving lead, it feels much more like a Hollywood-set production.
But it’s a minor complaint. “Castle” will have the high-powered lead-in of “Dancing With the Stars” to start the season and, if there’s justice left in the world of broadcast TV, it will become the scripted hit that ABC so desperately needs. “Castle” should be a household name.