God it's good to have this show back. And not just because I need a weekly dose of snark that isn't coming from my own brain/mouth. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a quality procedural. Mostly because it doesn't treat itself like a procedural. Plenty of shows call themselves "crime dramas," but the emphasis is usually on the crime and not the drama (read: relations between characters). Castle is a bit more comedy than drama, most of the time, but it has a heart that CSI and company just can't match.
Getting down to business, this was not the most exciting of season premieres. I mean, there WAS a drug mule strangled, dropped into a tree, and then body-snatched out of the coroner van. But for Castle, that's just one of your everyday games. (Not that I'm complaining. Solid is WAY better than wacky- but-overdone.) The case got more and more interesting over the course of the episode, reaching a high point with a Russian mob poker game in Chinatown. Now, I'm partial to Russians of almost any variety, but I'm pretty sure even an objective viewer would qualify that as good times.
The best times in this episode, though, came from the lead actor tag-team. Obviously. Starting the whole thing off with a catch-up montage narrated by Nathan Fillion was pretty much the most ingenious move the show could have made. That man delivers like no other, punctuating the episode with hair-slicking, hijinks, and some terrible terrible puns. And speaking of those puns, I demand that you all salute Stana Katic's straight-face. It's truly amazing and makes up for anything that goes a little bit wrong, including that unfortunately awkward stint of sexy Russianness.
The best part about this show is that the two lead actors are supported by an entire cast that is (nearly) just as hilarious. Ryan and Esposito aren't well developed as individual characters, but they are undeniably DAMN funny. And, if this episode is any indication, it looks like we'll be seeing more of the Medical Examiner, Lanie, played by Tamala Jones. There were just some glimpses of her last season, but she is a great addition to the secondary character dynamic on Castle and I'd be very happy if she was around more often.
My two criticisms for this episode are minor. First, if there are going to be any more episodes involving large piles of cocaine, someone really needs to work on making it look less exactly like powdered sugar. And second, didn't they do that "You do remind me a little of Hooch" bit before? I was getting some serious deja vu, but I might just be a crazy person. Tough call.
(This review also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)