Saturday, September 19, 2009
Castle: The Complete First Season (ABC Studios, $39.99) brings the first season of the witty crime series starring Nathan Fillion on DVD with all 10 episodes! Get on the beat with this great new show! It is loaded with provocative banter and a talented cast. Richard Castle is a world-famous crime novelist whose stories come to life in the pilot episode when a copycat killer follows his literary blueprint. He then enlists to help the NYPD stay a step ahead of the murderer. Castle realizes working with the police can also supply him with a new slew of ideas for his next book. The relationship gets a little more complicated -- and a whole lot more fun -- when he is paired with the attractive Detective Beckett, who doesn't appreciate Castle's unorthodox style. If you like Moonlighting and The Rockford Files, this show is in the same vein as those as the characters are the most important part of the show.
The series will return to its Mondays at 10PM timeslot on ABC this coming season following Dancing with the Stars. The series stars Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, Stana Katic as Detective Kate Beckett, Jon Huertas as Detective Javier Esposito, Seamus Dever as Detective Kevin Ryan, Tamala Jones as Medical Examiner Dr. Lanie Parish, Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Captain Roy Montgomery, Molly Quinn as Alexis Castle, and Susan Sullivan as Martha Rodgers. Among the recurring stars are Stephen J. Cannell and James Patterson as themselves, and Bailey Chase as Will Sorrenson. Among the guests this year are Dan Castellaneta, Jayne Brook, Bill Smitrovich, K Callan, Darby Stanchfield and Judy Reyes.
This first season got better and better as the season went a long. I don't like crime shows of today, but this one is a throwback to the ones of the past and focuses on characters than more about the case. I like that! The series airs Mondays at 10pm and had a Dancing with the Stars direct lead-in a few times in season one, but now in season two...it will get that lead-in each time! The more people find this show, the better...because it has something for everyone. The humor, the crime, the relationships, the action, and great characters! The second season premieres on Monday (Sept. 21) and I have seen the season premiere already and it is awesome. We are about two months later in the story when Castle has to "tell" Beckett something, which I won't give away if you haven't watched the first season finale yet. It is a great premiere you won't want to miss, for sure! Beckett looks even more stunning this coming season with longer hair! She has a very stunning scene near the end of the second season premiere. Anyway, as for season one, some memorable episodes include the premiere, "Flowers for Your Grave," where popular and famous mystery novelist Richard Castle, who is bored with his own success, learns that a real-world killer has begun staging murders based on scenes from his novels. In "Nanny McDead," the body of a young woman is found spinning inside the dryer in the laundry room of an upscale apartment building. In "A Chill Goes Through Her Veins," the body of a frozen woman found tangled in steel bars at a construction site leads Beckett and Castle to a years-old mystery and a long abandoned case...as the two uncover startling revelations about the victim's past, the investigation forces Beckett to face some difficult memories of her own family tragedy. In "Always Buy Retail," when an immigrant is found tortured and murdered in a ritualistic killing, Beckett navigates the uncharted territory of the mysterious Vodun religion with Castle along for the ride, meanwhile, Castle is confronted with the possible return of his first wife, Alexis' mother, whose dizzying personality threatens to upend the tranquility of the entire family. In "Little Girl Lost," when a two-year-old girl is discovered missing from her home, Beckett is called in to assist with the investigation only to discover that the FBI agent in charge is, in fact, her ex-boyfriend. Finally, in the outstanding season finale "A Death in the Family," Castle and Beckett investigate the murder of a missing plastic surgeon who is found dead in the front seat of his car after a week of being parked curbside. As they delve into the twisted world of surgery obsessed patients and secret operations, Castle experiences a fatherly rite of passage as Alexis attends her first prom. And by looking into Beckett's past, he digs into information that could end his relationship with her forever.
Packaging has a thin outer box that you can remove from the top or bottom to get to the case inside. Both the thin outer box and case have the same artwork for both the front and back. The cover has a nice full body photos of Castle and Beckett in the New York City night sky, with one of Castle's books below that as we see a dead body I guess below the book. The show logo is in the middle in white lettering. The back has that dark blue night background with information on the set and has some episodic screen shots from episodes and we also have a cast photo. There is also a section detailing the bonus features box with technical specifications also.
Opening the case, on the left side we see disc one. On the right side we see discs two and three, overlapping each other. There is also an insert for Blu-ray inside. Disc artwork is very nice. Disc one has episodes 1-4 with artwork of a pen with some blood. Disc two has episodes 5-8 and has artwork of two of Castle's books including "At Dusk We Die." And disc three has episodes 9-10 plus bonus features and has artwork of two more of Castle's books including "A Calm Before the Storm." When you remove the discs, the panels have a nice cast photo, along with a disc-by-disc breakdown of episode titles and bonus features.
The menu screen starts with the opening credits from the series with the theme music, then we get to the main menu where we see moving video images with the closing theme playing in the background. The options on the main menu are Play All, Episode Selection, Set Up, Bonus Features, and Sneak Peeks (disc three). But before the main menu screen comes on disc one, we get some auto sneak peeks of other DVDs: ABC on DVD, The Proposal, and Cheri. Sneak Peeks option is only found on disc three on the main menu and has previews of many titles like Ugly Betty, Life on Mars, Lost DVDs, and an ABC promo for Desperate Housewives. Set Up section has the option of subtitles in English, French or Spanish and how you can register your DVD. The Episodes option gives us the episode number, title and a screenshot. Bonus Features option has all the extras listed. All of the sub-menus have different background music from the show.
The episodes run usually 41-43 minutes...unedited of course with all the great music intact. There are about 9 chapter stops per episode. The video is digitally mastered and is in widescreen and looks very good! The audio is great and sounds very good, as it is in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This is from mid-season 2009, so it had better be good. There is nothing to complain at all here...it is perfect!
Moving on the bonus features. Discs one and two have audio commentaries, while the rest of the extras are on disc three. Disc one has audio commentary for the first episode "Flowers for Your Grave" with creator/executive producer Andrew Marlowe, executive producer Rob Bowman, Nathan Fillion (Castle), Stana Katic (Beckett), and Jon Huertas (Esposito). They give lots of details and are very fun to listen to. Fillion is very witty in real life, too. On disc two we have audio commentary for the great episode "A Chill Goes Through Her Veins," with creator/executive producer Andrew Marlowe, executive producer Rob Bowman, Nathan Fillion (Castle), Stana Katic (Beckett), Jon Huertas (Esposito), and also this time Molly Quinn (Alexis). Once again this is very fun and Molly Quinn is on it this time. She is a teenager but doesn't seem like it at all. She is very smart!
All of the other extras are on disc three! We have two more audio commentary tracks. They are for the same episode, the season finale "A Death in the Family." The first track is with creator/executive producer Andrew Marlowe, executive producer Rob Bowman, Nathan Fillion (Castle), Stana Katic (Beckett), Jon Huertas (Esposito), and Molly Quinn (Alexis) once again. This team is so good to listen to! And we also have a track with Seamus Dever (Ryan) and Jon Huertas (Esposito). So Huertas does commentary TWICE for this episode! We have an interview featurette titled "Whodunit: The Genesis of Castle" (6:14). This is a very good detailed extra that gives us the inside scoop on the cast, characters and the season. Interviewed are Andrew Marlowe, Stephen J. Cannell (writer/producer, novelist), Rob Bowman, Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Then we have another featurette titled "Castle's Godfather" (7:15). This has the trio of Stephen J. Cannell, Rob Bowman and Andrew Marlowe. We find out how Cannell got involved with the show and how he has known Rob Bowman since he was a child! This is a very interesting featurette. The final featurette is a GREAT one! It is very unique and very funny. It is titled "Write-Along with Nathan Fillion" (9:06). Nathan spends an entire day with Stephen J. Cannell and learns how to be a mystery writer. It is a tough job! This is very comical and even has Cannell doing his famous throwing the paper in the air. One of the best extras ever and a must watch! Finally, we have some "Misdemeanours: Bloopers & Outtakes" (2:36)...yes, bloopers! See all the goofs and play on the set!
I recommend this series and set...it is an ABC Studios DVD, so it is good and filled with special features. I think this series will break out this season and will get a full season to show America how witty and great this show is. This DVD is awesome! We get of course all ten great episodes from the first season, good packaging, and great extras that has one of my favorite extras ever with Fillion and Cannell. We need more extras like that on DVDs! I don't understand why the DVD is coming out on Sept. 22, when the second season launches a day before on Sept. 21, but ABC did re-air all ten episodes this summer (some multiple times). So I hope you saw them all. Everyone needs to be watching this show. Make a date with Castle and Beckett every Monday at 10pm on ABC! This is the best crime drama on TV right now because it has substance to the characters. It has a bit of everything and fans of older series like The Rockford Files and Moonlighting will enjoy this series. It's a whole new chapter in crime solving, indeed! See the tension between Castle and Beckett! As Castle would say, "Tell Me You Saw That!"
View the Season One Trailer.
-- Reviewed by Pavan
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