Thursday, March 15, 2012

Doyle vs. Castle

One of the criticisms of my reviews of Doyle has been "you're taking it too seriously. It's a fluffy, fun show. Relax and just watch it and don't be so critical."

Which I'm not entirely sure how you're supposed to do that and be able to review it, but whatever. But here's the thing...I do watch other mindless TV shows. The show that I tend to compare Doyle to is Castle.

Now I know some people go that's unfair because Castle is a major US network show with a massive budget. However, I think it works for the sake of my argument. Castle's central idea is certainly more preposterous. What's sillier - a private detective solving crime in St. John's or a mystery writer teaming up with a hot detective and together they solve murder cases...and have been doing so for four years and managed to not sleep together despite insane chemistry.

Castle wins the silly sweepstakes on that one.

In terms of the look of the show, Doyle win that too. Castle is the generic New York via Hollywood backlot look that's so common on US network shows. At least Doyle looks pretty and has some character.

Castle, obviously has a better pool of actors to draw on, but Doyle still gets some entertaining guest stars. It was nice seeing Andy Jones as grumpy judge last night. I hope they bring him back from time to time. Any occasion to see Andy Jones on TV is a good one.

But the big difference is in the quality of writing, which shouldn't be a surprise considering I've harped on it so much. But let's compare an episode of Castle from earlier the season with the Doyle one last night. They have similar premises in that one of the lead characters is trapped and unable to run around and solve the mystery, meaning other people have to do it. In Castle's case, he's trapped in a bank in the middle of a robbery, meaning Beckett has to try and solve the mystery and deal with the robbers. In Doyle's case, he's stuck on jury duty trying a case where he's convinced the defendant is innocent, but being sequestered it's a little hard to prove things.

Not precisely the same, but close. But the thing with Castle is that it clicks along so effortlessly. There's some real nice tension, some good humour and a decent mystery. Aspects of it are deeply silly, but even after it's over and you start to nitpick a bit, it still holds together fairly well.

Doyle just isn't the same. I mean, I enjoy the show fine, I guess. I knew the premise is silly from the get go (there's no human way Doyle gets on a jury, but whatever), however I'm biting. Try to solve the mystery while stuck in a jury room. Except they never play fair with the premise. Of course he gets to sneak out, wander around, get in a fight and walk down the street in broad daylight with an escaped criminal (having a character point it out as silly does not absolve you, as a writer, of it being a silly thing to do). Of course he gets caught and thrown off the jury, allowing him time to run around and do the big reveal in court.

Castle effortlessly sucks you into the silliness and you go along for the ride. Doyle feels too often like it's trying to punch you in the face with the silliness. And the hangover, when you realize how stupid stuff was after it ends, is fairly brutal. I'm not sure Advil quite covers it.

Doyle is perfectly average mindless fluff, but Castle is top notch mindless fluff. The difference isn't in the budget, the scenery or even the acting. It's the writing. Until Doyle acknowledges that and works to address it, I think it's going to be stuck that way for me, no matter how much I try to turn off my brain.

Last Five
1. Trojan horse - Bloc Party
2. Sex on fire - Kings of Leon
3. Wonderful - Andy Stochansky
4. I'll wait - Van Halen
5. People got a lotta nerve - Neko Case*


John, Perth AU said...

Granted, Castle is higher quality mindless fluff than Doyle (I'm also a fan of both). However, Hawco is on record that he's aiming more toward Rockford Files (known for its "magical realism"/silliness), which I think he manages to do quite well. Right now I worry that they're going to re-tool Castle into a writer-spy show, especially with the recent "Derrick Storm was a spy" retcon. I doubt I would be able to connect with that at all. I guess all writers run out of ideas eventually.

Harry Statesider said...

I've never seen "Castle," but your "Doyle" comments are spot on. I feel like even in the context of it's purported genre, a bit more of an effort could be made to make the stories some how "add up" better. Each week the plots just seem to get more and more convoluted with so many gaps in logic and unanswered questions as to how things manage to get resolved. If you're going to be silly, at least make silly make sense. At this point what keeps me watching is the ensemble and the occasional funny one-liner.

Adam Snider said...

Doyle is often too ridiculous, in my opinion. I like the show and all, but when I find myself nitpicking DURING an episode (Really? They're renovating the courtroom while court is in session? Really?), well, that's a problem.

The writing has always been a bit shaky, but it's a fun show and so I go along with it. It's been much harder to "just go with it" this season, though, because so many plot points have been so astoundingly stupid lately.

I can't compare it to Castle, as I've never been able to get into the show, despite being a Nathan Fillion fan. But, yeah, profoundly stupid writing this season.

towniebastard said...

I think I should clarify that I like silly, but good silly is still hard to do. There should still be a feeling that there's a brain behind it, and too often Doyle feels like the laziest out is being given.

Although I do agree with John about Castle dipping it's toe into spy waters. The recent two-parter where they basically saved the world was tense and fun, but really weird in the context of the show. I hope that was a one time thing, rather than a new direction.