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Suspending Perspective: Returning Television Shows – Part II – Spring 2010 – Rev

The gist of some of the more popular returning shows follows their ability to know their characters in and out. Some have found that balance while some debate on whether to mess with what works to keep the challenge palpable. The maintenance of such characters from Sheldon on “Big Bang Theory” to Charlie on “2 /12″and even to Beckett on “Castle” revolves around the ability of teasing the audiences without giving them what they think they want.

Big Bang Theory The realization within this season is that Walowitz and Leonard do indeed have girlfriends so (like “Chuck”), their relative comparisons to loserdom have been requisitely lifted. However, the superhero of the show remains within Sheldon whose life is seemingly altered by the changing of the social guard. After returning from the Antartica, he tries to escape to Montana. Now he has almost become the unwanted son of newly minted Penny & Leonard. While Leonard seems undeniably less interesting because of this change as his character does try to adhere to Penny’s wishes, it is Penny as a character that is growing because in doing this, it changes her relationship to Sheldon in having to perceive him in a different way with empathy understanding that he is a part of her life. The episode that has her and Leonard going to Switzerland to visit the Supercollider is relatively poignant. But like the Sam/Diane relationship on “Cheers”, a curveball will need to be thrown at a certain point. Walowitz almost has the easy part because there are so many ways he can screw up his relationship to a girl who is hot under her geekiness. The problem is that it creates a double standard in the progression of the series. Raj is the one left out in the cold but obviously they are planning something big for him. Like “Two & A Half Men” it becomes how far you can throw the ball while still keeping the characters who they are.

Two & A Half Men The ultimate beauty in the set up of this structure is that people are who they are, no matter which way you look at it. Jake, as the young man, will be taking the back seat as Charlie obviously moves through his issues of marriage. Ultimately, it requires him to screw up his relationship beyond repair. Granted it could be moving in the direction of kids of his own which will bring a whole other dynamic. The reality as true life has shown is that people do revert but that strengthens the show’s resolve since Alan will always screw up and Jake will always be bumbling, although in all likelihood he will secure a hot girlfriend which will just make Alan that much more funny. Charlie is Charlie as is the way. However a recent episode which showed him drunk comedically shows a paradox which was quite unexpected since it was almost done dramatically (which we all know Sheen can do). The questions here aren’t simple which makes the series undeniably workable.

Castle The presence of mind with this series, like its predecessors “Moonlighting” and “Northern Exposure”, revolves around the aspect of keeping Castle and Beckett away from physically being together for as long as possible. While doing this and maintaining the humor is no easy feat but Fillion’s innocent but chicanerous schtick as Castle actually continues with a great amount of joy. You can tell that he is having fun. The up-play of the two side partners getting some jokes in sometimes makes it less real than it should be but the levity needs to be revolved around. The tinge begins to move when Dana Delaney makes an entrance as an FBI agent that gives Beckett a run for her money. You start to see a tinge of jealousy. Stana Katic as Beckett knows the balance and plays the straight and unwavering character in the piece which can be trying but when she comes out a little bit to tease Castle, it is stellar. One such moment occurs during an episode when they are investigating a dominatrix dungeon. Her words are like sin and Castle’s jaw drops. The show and its actors knows itself in and out and, as long as it can maintain the progression, it can’t miss. The only hiccup could occur if they start thinking about real time which unfortunately was brought up towards the end of season 2.

Sanctuary Restitute in its ability to further its reach, the second season of the SyFy series allows for a much wider swath of possibilities. The storylines play to an aspect of a wider world review that allows closed structured series like “Stargate” to push forward farther. The culminating factor for “Sanctuary” is making the series more of a global reach structure so it can play overseas. The aspect of multi-ethnic cultures is what allowed earlier versions of “Stargate” to flourish by comparison. Narrative inlays like the progression of vision quests and the undeniable sacrifices (specifically that of the Jack The Ripper character) speak to more of the mythos that the series wishes to create. While still not creating enticements on the level of say “Battlestar”, “Sanctuary” is embracing its more gothic structures which will allow it to grow.

“Heat Wave” – Advance Book Review

hw-bkThe key with the aspect of the Richard Castle book “Heat Wave”, which acts as a companion piece to the ABC series, is that it gets right to the point. It also allows the characters to go a little farther than where network shows are allowed to go. This 10 chapter advance on the actual novel given quickly after a visit to the actual “Castle” set at Raleigh Studios speaks to what the aspect of the storylines might be. In all actuality it plays to the show’s strengths. In all fairness though, the initial 5 chapter are basing up to what those who have already learned in the show’s first season already knew. It would seem certain points were directly lifted from the scripts so many of the thoughts one would have seen before.

The difference, and this is obviously always the way with novels, is that you can see the interior life of a character, in this case Nikki Heat. The grand play as the story moves on is that you begin wondering as it hits the end of the 10th chapter is if this is simply Castle’s fantasy or a key of what is to come on the series. Certain points have rung true, like the moments in the poker game. But it is the elements like what cannot be shown on television like the flashback murder of Heat’s mother (which is a direct reflection from the series) or the eventual climax of the first chapters (which I won’t give away).

Needless to say, the book promises in its eventual form an interesting companion piece to the series. Having now met all the actors who embody the roles from Nathan Fillion as Castle to Stana Katic as Beckett as well as their two cops on their team Ochoa and Raley, the one thing that maintains across the board is the voice of humor. It will be interesting when it is eventually revealed the aspect of the ghost writer who in all practices seems very familiar with New York. In terms of a tease as an advance I give “Heat Wave” a 3 out of 5.

Desperate Attraction: ABC Studio Day Set Visits: Castle & Private Practice – TCA Summer 2009 Press Tour – Feature

As the center of TCA approaches the essential question is the aspect of longevity of shows. The key is creating a progression that people can gestate into. With ABC’s portion of set visits, they highlighted both the newly christened with possibility and the proven formula which continues its dominance but with a balance of what made it great while branching out.

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Castle This series starring came out of nowhere but has a levity and structure of chemistry that grows on you. Shot at Raleigh Studios In Hollywood though set in NY, the narrative follows a successful novelist shadowing a female detective as a subject for his new thriller. As a concept it is a pretty simple but it works because the dialogue is sharp and the actors especially the two leads,Nathan Fillion (as Castle) and Stana Katic (as Beckett) are so likable.

Entering the soundstage which less than two years ago housed the LA set for “Ugly Betty” is like deja vu since the initially staging area is for a fashion show stage which will be part of the current episode for the fall that they are shooting on this day (Episode 2). After sneaking a quick look at the precinct set in the back of the stage, Seamus Dever, who plays Det. Kevin Ryan, lead us back up to the main stage as we discuss the finer points of smoking on-camera. He quit a while back but he still has to smoke the herbals once in a while for their show.

In the white expanse of the fashion set, Nathan Fillion in true form as his Whedon protege element does his catwalk move in full ham mode out into view. The shenanigans of course must continue off screen, Andrew Marlowe, the creator of the show, comes out and talks about the new season which starts airing in late September. They got an order for 13 for Season 2 with the possibly for the back nine.

At the end of last season, Fillion’s Nick Castle was on the outs with Stana Katic’s Kate Beckett. Their chemistry is great but needs to definitely be upped but the balance as I later discussed with Katic is one of those very specific things, She has the hardest job which she understands but first, the coolness of the peanut gallery.

Walking into the back of Castle’s loft which is filled to the brim with books and macho slick, we sit down at the bar near the dining area. Seamus and John Huertas (who plays Det. Javier Esposito) are a bunch of cracks-up who know what makes the series work but also what they need to do. The only thing lacking in the back as we chilled out was mojitos. The great balancer on the show they agreed was comedy. Their little in-jokes with Castle at the expense of Beckett is what gives the levity to a lot of the precinct scenes which could get bogged down in analytics (but don’t).You can tell they throw off Katic the best they can since she has to maintain that steely exterior. It just seems a fun time for them.

Heading over to the cusp of the fashion set, Katic sits utterly comfortable, out of her detective’s uniform. Without her glasses, she is quite beautiful with a touch of Sarah Palin which simply comes from that paradox of her deliberateness. Her awkwardness at times is what creates those grand moments, sort of like Maggie on “Northern Exposure”. You get that same kind of feeling. When I ask her about a moment when she (Stana) peeks through Beckett for a moment, she has to think about it. I speak about the comedy and she smiles a couple minutes later as she cuts in. That “moment” is when her ex-beau Sorenson comes back and they are standing at the car. He seems to leave and at that moment, you can see her there looking back. Even though we dont see it alot, Katic has a genuine and beautiful smile that radiates when it comes onscreen which is why they use it sparingly. She has to play the straight man and she knows it. She is a little goofy she says.

She relates about how during hiatus she had gone to Europe to see family and promote the show and then she went to Bora Bora with friends. She especially liked talking about Italy and just the aspect of characters and family in the old world, especially with the men and women. Interestingly enough these concepts of family are both in the minds of Katic and, by interesting extension, Fillion as talked to a couple minutes later but from a separate pereception.

Point taken though is the great radiant smile of Katic which is totally here which hopefully will get its shine again this season. There is a couple bits in the first season in Episode 8 where she gets to be very feminine which she really liked. She seems like the sweats kind of girl and loves to go hiking here in LA. Her, Seamus and one of the other cast members are currently training for a local triathalon so physicality is always something on their minds.

Heading into the study, the man and the myth of Castle stands behind his desk. The pun by extension is that on the desk there is a big bowl of heavy balls, which has its intended connotation. Fillion is dressed in a maroon shirt and is every way into this guy. You really see him living in the skin. He knows that he is the more immature one. You can also see that he has a really cool relationship with his onscreen daughter Molly Quinn as Alexis. She keeps him in line.

Nathan speaks about his ex-wife on the series Martha played by Susan Sullivan. When asked if the different masks have to permeate through him (like if he acts different around different people in terms of the character), Fillion says that he tries to keep him honest across the board as to who he is. He might be working the situation as Castle but the character never denies who he is.

He says that he bases certain elements of the character’s structure around his mother and father’s relationship. In his mind, parents drive you nuts but you love them nonetheless. He sees that as the attraction in the series with the ex-wife Martha.

Making the point that this might be what drives the chemistry between Castle and Beckett, Nathan denies that in time. But actually on a subconcious point, that might be the case. He says that his mother was a worrier, maternal and tries to be protective which is very similar to how (when Castle isn’t looking), Beckett reacts.

The great thing about the series (which maybe as a performer he is withdrawn from) is that in the cut away scenes of Katic, you see those moments which we as the audience may only be privy to (which is a great tell). There is a great layering here that seems to be happening organically which is simply spurred on by the uniqueness specifically of these actors in this situation. It can only get better. “Castle” has legs.

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Private Practice Across the parking lot and past the satellite dishes, the set for the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff is ready to go. Having never gotten into either “Grey”, or by extension, “Practice”, the connection for me was perhaps undirected. However, entering in, the perception became aware simply by the layout. The doctors who can do their own thing collide by sheer chance and will.

Shonda Rhimes, the force behind both “Grey” and “Private”, still goes through every script. Sitting at the conference table surrounded by her producing team, she admits to last season ending a little dark but that they are looking to bringing a lighter element. She speaks of next season in the movement of Dr. Addison played by Kate Walsh and the essence of Violet (played by Amy Brennaman).

Shonda doesn’t watch other medical shows so their influence is negated although she loves “Project Runway”, She says a lot of medicine in the show is just in the everyday lives of the people. This is none more connected in this way than Taye Diggs at the current moment. The most life changing element that has affected him and, in turn, informs his character has been his real life marriage and specifically the wedding to his wife. Presently she is pregnant and is expecting. Diggs knows that this will completely change his life and is affecting how he looks at work. People keep telling him having a child will change everything. He is excited but you can tell that he is both elated and scared by what to expect. This kind of human possibility seems to infuse the show.

Talking to Kate Walsh in a plush hangback chair in the practice’s waiting room, she seems chill in her countenance of what will motivate her character as well as within her character’s family, which is a continuing but powerful motif, The question is the angle at which you hit it.

Shonda, in point, gives an apt and visionary conclusion which seems to be indicated and vindicated in many ways sheerly by the structure of the set. Shonda says that she can be claustrophic as a person and relationships here speak to that. It is all about forced proximity and desperate separation. This is a good formula for exacting and reactive dram

With both “Castle” and “Private Practice”, the angle seems to the thought process of the characters, their reactions and attractions and their eventual weaknesses which propel the series. In seeing the lives within the sets, the progression of these lives becomes ever more clear.

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