Castle Season 6 Review

  • Series Title: Castle
  • Season: 6
  • Episodes:  23
  • Discs:  5
  • Network:  ABC (US)
  • Cast:  Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Seamus Dever, Jon Huertas, Molly C. Quinn, Susan Sullivan
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD

Castle Season 6 picks up immediately upon where Season 5 left off – with Castle proposing to Beckett and Beckett telling him she’s decided to take the job in DC. Kate accepts his proposal, and Rick Castle accepts her decision to go to DC. In DC, Kate finds herself frustrated by her job. Always striving for justice, especially for nameless victims, Kate hates being in a position where expediency trumps justice. Rather than having Kate quit though – she’s fired, for leaking information to the press (that would insure the justice she seeks rather than something embarrassing being swept under the rug.)

When I started watching Season 6 – I enjoyed the spark and humor, and even original-seeming twisty-turny plots. It felt like the Castle I knew after the extremely disappointing Season 7 I’d just watched (never fear – I’ll buy the season DVD set anyway to keep my collection up to date). Yet, I also felt that a lot of false drama was made from the idea of Kate being in DC and Castle being in New York. First – it’s not like they are a bi-coastal couple (and those exist in the real world). DC and New York are what – two hours apart? That’s not insurmountable – it’s a commute. I mean really! Second, Castle is a writer – he can work from anywhere. Yes, he’s supporting his mother and his daughter, but Alexis has moved out to go to college – and Martha’s returned to a successful acting career. Besides, as is always pointed out, Castle is wealthy – I’m sure he can afford a small apartment in DC as well – or even to stay in hotels when visiting Kate. (And Kate isn’t going to be living on the streets – she’s got to have a place.) And neither of them sell (or even rent out) out their own places in New York – as Kate goes right back to her apartment. So the whole argument about DC and the new job felt very, very false. That Kate didn’t like her new job I was OK with. It’s very seldom in the aggressive, ambitious, American lifestyle to see a movie or TV show where someone says a “better” job isn’t for them and goes back to something that makes them happier. (I’ve seen that idea occasionally on British TV shows – Hamish MacBeth for example.) It would have been nice after the two-part season opener for Kate to turn to her female boss (played by Lisa Edelstein) and said, “You know what? I quit. I thought this was for me, but it’s not. Sorry for the short notice.” But the series instead takes away all of Kate’s agency and has her get fired instead. Now, in part that was Kate’s choice – she released the information knowing it would get her fired. But I would have liked to see, just once, a strong character admit, that just because society says a certain job is better doesn’t mean it’s better for them. I think it would be the same if Kate was offered the job of police captain (which I think she turned down once, very early in the series).

The rest of the season is actually pretty good. I loved the time-traveler episode (including the Doctor Who reference), the fire episode was great, and the 70s episode was hilarious! Actually, I got even more out of the 70s episode this time around than the first time – picking up on more in-jokes, especially in the station (the cop with the lollypop!) and the somewhat subtle but oh so perfect “moral” of the episode of the two gangsters in unrequited love (God, “Gangsters in Love” it sounds like the title of a musical!). Overall, the season felt more like the earlier seasons of Castle. Also, “Like Father, Like Daughter” was a wonderful Castle and Alexis episode – and I really missed her at the end of the season (it’s like – Where’d she go? All of a sudden she’s never there.)

The “B plot” of the season was Castle’s engagement to Beckett. For the entire season – they are teasing us, and teasing us about the wedding. The bits and pieces of “character moments” that would often be about Castle and Alexis, Castle and Martha, or any of the other characters interacting – were taken up with Castle and Beckett looking for a wedding venue, agreeing on “their song”, Kate finding a wedding dress (by luck she gets a haute culture dress after a case!), choosing the guest list, etc. And I was OK with that – it actually felt realistic to watch two very busy people trying to fit wedding planning into very busy lifestyles. But after all that teasing (and watching the planning) I wanted a payoff.

When I saw the last episode of season 6 when it aired – I felt like I was robbed. And, I think that even played into my reluctance to watch it.  I waited a solid week between watching episode 22 and watching episode 23 today. Now granted, for part of that time I was out of town sans computer for a long weekend, but still – I didn’t watch it when I first got back or for several days after. Watching the final episode today, as much as Kate’s sudden “college spree marriage in Vegas” seemed like a very silly plot device – I enjoyed the episode. It was fun, and light – not nearly as dark as I remembered – and Kate’s old boyfriend / husband and his girlfriend were actually kinda’ cute in a way. I liked that they got a happy ending. Logically, I wondered that an unconsummated marriage where the parties hadn’t ever even lived together would be legal. And I also wondered why there was no “no fault” divorce in New York – or any way for Kate to get out of her situation. But then, I’m no divorce attorney – maybe that part of the plot made more sense than it seemed to me.

BIG SPOILER BELOW

Finally, the last bit of the episode. Sigh. OK – as far as season 6 goes, it’s not quite so bad – but it sets up stuff for season 7 that upset me so much it’s hard to separate the two. But I’ll try. And I’ll save my season 7 rants for when I get the DVD set and can watch the whole thing.

Here we go. So – we have a full episode of basically excuses preventing Kate and Rick’s marriage. And running around solving those problems. Even Kate, in character, breaks down, crying, that she feels like the universe is trying to prevent her marriage. Castle gives a wonderful speech – but he does it as if he’s talking to just her (as he should). Castle talks about overcoming obstacles and that all the fairy tales have them. Kate looks at him and says, “That’s why I love you.” In the midst of the craziness of the episode – it’s a great moment. The penultimate scene has Kate in her wedding dress, talking to Martha, when Castle calls – he tells her everything went fine with the judge (dissolving her marriage), he has the wedding license, and he’s on his way – then Castle says, “I love you.” At that moment, my heart sank. And the very last scene is of Kate, in her wedding dress, looking at a wrecked car through flames and smoke. And we cut to end credits – with somber music instead of the typical bouncy Castle end credit theme.

So after an entire season of build-up to what should have been the ultimate fairy-tale wedding, what do we get? Castle in a ditch. And the audience knows he can’t really be dead – because he’s the lead of the series, which has been renewed for the next year. It felt like a cheap trick. Like the series creators were playing with their audience. I remember when I saw that episode originally I was mad – simply angry more than anything else. I was robbed of the wedding I’d wanted to see for six years! For crying out loud, even Luke and Laura actually got married on their wedding day when even as a 12-year-old I expected some intervention to prevent it (that’s a General Hospital reference, which I watched when I was in grade school.) This… this… this was just maddening! A whole season teasing us with wedding plans, a whole series that’s basically a romantic comedy straight out of the 30s or 40s slightly updated for modern times – and the creators deny us, the audience, the happy ending? Yeah, I was angry.

I’m still not happy with the end of the season. But the season as a whole? That was pretty good. I’d still give Castle Season 6 a good recommendation.

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Superman Unbound

  • Title: Superman Unbound
  • Director: James Tucker
  • Voice Director:  Andrea Romano
  • Date: 2013
  • Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Action, Animation
  • Cast: Matt Bomer, John Noble, Stana Katic, Molly Quinn
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“Must be awful being you. Most powerful man in the world, and you still can’t control the women in your life.” – Lois to Clark

“I am the knowledge and strength of 10,000 worlds, and flesh and machine. I am becoming everything.” – Brainiac

“I think it’s a bug in his programming, that cyborg core inside him, it wants to know everything there is to know in the Galaxy.” – Jor-El
“So he said.” – Superman
“But that’s impossible, worlds are living things, their knowledge is always growing and changing. So, he has to stop them, turn them into these fake versions instead. You can’t control a living thing without destroying what’s alive about it.” – Jor-El

The animation in Superman Unbound is of very high quality, especially in the space scenes, and it’s much better than the disappointing animation in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. But I was very happy to see quality animation again, after the disappointing Flash film. This film features Supergirl (Kara) Superman’s cousin, as well as Superman, and the villian Brainiac, and is based on the graphic novel, Superman: Brainiac, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.

The film’s opening gambit has Supergirl and Superman rescuing Lois Lane from military kidnappers in black. Lois complains that she has to keep her relationship with Clark Kent a secret.

Then a meteor falls towards Pheonix. However, it isn’t a meteor but a probe, occupied by a killer robot and with an transmitter. Superman defeats the robot, and destroys the transmitter and probe – but brings the robot to his Fortress of Solitude to study. There he runs into Kara, his cousin, aka Supergirl, who is freaked out. She recognizes the robot as having attacked her home city of Kandor on Krypton and causing the city to completely disappear. She tells Superman the villain’s name, Brainiac and that he will do the same to Metropolis on Earth.

Superman leaves Earth to deal with Brainiac before he gets to Earth, and Supergirl deals with issues on Earth, except in Metropolis. Eventually, Lois uses Jimmy’s emergency call watch, and Supergirl arrives. Lois confronts her about avoiding Metropolis, to which Supergirl warns her to get out of the city, visit the Kent’s farm in Smallville – go anywhere, just leave. Lois gets Kara to open up and finds out she’s afraid Brainiac will take Metropolis and destroy Earth, like he did Krypton.

Meanwhile, Superman listens to a recording of a Kryptonian science report on Brainiac and travels to another planet where he’s attacking. Superman helps destroy the robots on the alien planet. However, the planet’s sun explodes and Superman is stunned unconscious and taken aboard Brainiac’s ship. He awakens in a lab and destroys the robots analyzing him. Superman discovers cities in bell jars and “specimens” stored on Brainiac’s ship. He discovers Kandor also in a bottle. Superman runs into Brainiac, fights him, loses because he doesn’t have as much strength away from a yellow sun, and is transported inside Kandor. However, in his scan of Superman’s thoughts, Brainiac learns of Earth and heads his ship (shaped like a giant, black metal skull) there.

Inside Kandor, the micro sized city hasn’t changed in over thirty years, plus it has a red sun, so Superman’s powers are limited. But he discovers Kara’s parents, who fill him in some on Brainiac. He’s a cyborg with cybernetic and computer parts. But, Kor-El believes the system has a “bug” – because Brainiac want’s to know everything – an impossible task in an ever-changing galaxy. So, Brainiac has become an obsessive collector instead, stealing a world’s knowledge, taking a city and it’s inhabitants for his collection, then destroying the world so it cannot change. The city becomes locked in a bell jar, like a preserved butterfly on a board. Superman manages to escape Kandor, but promises to return and rescue the Kryptonian city. Recharged by another yellow sun, Superman picks up the bottle Kandor, and starts destroying Brainiac’s ship, before taking Kandor to his Fortress of Solitude.

Brianiac awakes and repairs his damaged ship.

Superman tells Kara her parents are alive inside Kandor, and he plans to take the city to a habitable planet with a red sun.

Brainiac and his robots attack Earth, and take Metropolis the way he had taken Kandor. Superman and Supergirl fight Brainiac and his robots. Superman defeats Brainiac by flooding him with sensations – sounds, smells, the feel of mud, et cetera. Meanwhile, Supergirl stops the missile that Brainiac had fired from his ship at the sun. Once Brainiac is defeated, Metropolis is returned to it’s normal spot, as is Kandor. Kara is reunited with her parents. At the end, Clark proposes to Lois in the Daily Planet newsroom.

The animation in this film was excellent, and the voice cast did an excellent job. I liked that Brainiac was more of a obsessive collector of cities, intelligent beings, and information, rather than simply knowledge and information. And the plot made it clear, it wasn’t gathering information that was an issue, but how Brainiac went about it. Essentially, Brainiac was like a Victorian natural history student, cataloging, in this case, the galaxy. Though, that plot also reminded me, strongly, of the Doctor Who episode, “Ghost Light”. One thing that concerned me was that Superman seemed to have very little concern for all the other cities on Brainiac’s ship – at one point he tries to destroy the ship, despite all the other cities with presumably living “specimens” inside. Later, Superman mentions resettling all the other cities on habitable planets – but I wondered if he realized what a big job that would be – there were hundreds of bell jars, from hundreds of planets. I wondered why Superman didn’t call in the Green Lantern Corps to help – it’s exactly the sort of thing they are trained for. But still, overall, it’s a good movie with a lot of action and battles. Superman fans will probably really love it.

Recommendation: See it!
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Librarian Curse of the Judas Chalice

  • Title:  The Librarian Curse of the Judas Chalice
  • Director:  Jonathan Frakes
  • Date:  2008
  • Studio:  TNT (TV movie)
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
  • Cast:  Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin, Stana Katic
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen (HD)
  • DVD Format:  NTSC, R1

“Maybe some women are OK with the wild and unpredictable lifestyle of dating a librarian, but I’m not.”  — Katie, when she dumps Flynn

“Charlene, How big is the library?”  – Flynn
“As big as we need it to be.” – Charlene

“You cannot escape your destiny, Flynn.” – Simone
“I was trying to take a little vacation from it but it didn’t seem to work out.” – Flynn
“No, if you fight your destiny you will be miserable.  You must embrace it and revel in every moment.” – Simone

The third film starts with Flynn, wearing a black tuxedo, and attending a high priced auction.  But rather than having the sophistication of James Bond, this is still our Flynn – the free champagne causes him to sneeze, though he also points out it’s not technically champagne but an Italian sparkling wine.  During the auction, not only does Charlene call to remind him of The Library’s budget, but his girlfriend, Katie calls to break up with him. Between the two conversations on his cell phone, and the auction itself, Flynn is distracted and accidentally raises the bid much too high several times.  Finally, it total frustration, he bids L1 million Pounds Sterling.  He wins the vase, and back at The Library, Charlene nearly faints. After the auction, Flynn picks up his vase, intentionally drops it, and shatters it into a million pieces, he finds and takes a small cloth bag, and hides it in his jacket pocket.  The other bidder arrives, and when he sees what’s happened, tries to take the item from Flynn. It turns out it’s the Philosopher’s Stone which can turn anything it touches into gold. Flynn and his rival fight, with anything at hand, including a throw pillow that Flynn’s quickly turned to gold. The fight merges into a stolen sword, sword-fight. Flynn, after some difficulty, escapes with the Stone.

Flynn goes to the hotel bar to meet his girlfriend, but she’s left.  He returns to the Library, where Charlene and Judson show him the Large Collection Annex, which, among other things, includes Noah’s Ark.  However, Flynn, though impressed, is fed-up.  He mentions his relationships that haven’t worked out:  Nicole, Emily, now Katie.  And how he can’t even tell his mother the importance of his work.  In short, he has a meltdown and threatens to quit.  Judson and Charlene ask him to take a vacation instead.

So Flynn does, but he merely stays in his apartment, eating take-out.  Charlene drops by one night at drops off a bunch of travel brochures.  Flynn is polite to her, but doesn’t take her suggestion seriously.  That night he has a dream of a Siren calling him, then sees a statue of a rearing horse.  When he wakes, he looks at the brochures again and finds one with the same rearing horse.  He decides to head to New Orleans on vacation.

In New Orleans, Flynn seems determined to have a very boring vacation, at first.  But one night he wanders into a bar, and sees the woman from his dream singing on stage.  During her break, he sits at her table and tries to buy her a drink.  This seems to be going terribly, when some heavies show up and come after the girl.  She and Flynn escape.

Flynn and the girl, Simone, spend the night together.  The next day, she’s gone.  Flynn runs into Judson in a barbershop, and learns a bit about the plot.  It seems that the Judas Chalice, an artifact made by melting the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot to betray Christ, is in play.  The Chalice has the power to re-animate dead vampires.  Meanwhile, the coffin of Dracule – aka, Vlad the Impaler, has disappeared.

Flynn and Simone, attempt to follow the clues to solve this new riddle.  Simone, guards a key that leads to the hiding place of the chalice.  Through a series of adventures they solve the puzzles.  However, Simone is a vampire – this isn’t too bad, she keeps blood in her fridge and has no desire to snack on Flynn.  Flynn also runs into a famous professor, whom he thinks is killed by the vampires chasing him.

The conclusion, is much more bittersweet than the previous Librarian films.  However, Flynn has once again, learned how important it is that he remain The Librarian.  He’s also learned that The Library is part of a larger struggle of Good vs. Evil.  And he’s picked up a little background on Judson.  Flynn, once at the verge of quitting, returns to The Library.

The third and final Librarian film, The Librarian Curse of the Judas Chalice, is a little weak in spots. The entire film, for the most part, is set in New Orleans, though it makes use of the location. I liked Flynn’s pal, the cabbie – who continuously shows-up to help Flynn and get him whatever he needs – a cemetery tour, a rental boat, etc.  Simone, a 300-year old vampire with a desire to take revenge on the one who made her, is a new twist on Flynn’s female companion du jour.  Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin round out the cast to make the film that much more fun.  Still, I missed the more global-trotting aspects of the previous films.  Though having the humor back was a bonus.  Overall, the film was enjoyable and fun.  Later this year, in December 2014, TNT will bring The Librarians to the small screen, starring Wyle, Newhart, Curtin, John Larroquette, and Christian Kane (of TNT’s Leverage). I’m actually looking forward to seeing it.

Recommendation:  See It – this film is especially appropriate for children
Rating:  3.8
Next Film:  Star Trek:  Into Darkness