‘Castle’ latest in ABC’s arsenal of unoriginal shows

Posted March 08, 2009, at 4:41 p.m.

It’s the time of year when the networks throw whatever programs they have left against the TV screen to see what sticks.

This is especially true at ABC, which has thrown out promising young series in favor of a glut of reality shows and what remains on the shelf.

The first of their scripted programs is “Castle,” which premieres at 10 tonight.

The titular character is Richard Castle, a mystery writer who has just killed off his main protagonist in his latest novel. As played by Nathan Fillion (“Firefly”), Castle is a confident, successful man with a problem: He has writer’s block.

He comes across a solution in the form of Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), a homicide detective who meets Castle when investigating a series of murders based on his novels.

He contacts friends in high places and before long, he’s tailing Kate, purportedly to do research to develop a new character based on her for his next series of mysteries.

Castle and Beckett make a cute odd couple, and it’s obvious where their relationship could go if they’re not careful.

An interesting twist is Castle’s home life, where he’s caught between his responsible teen daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn), and his actress diva mother, Martha (Susan Sullivan).

ABC has set “Castle” up to succeed, placing the lighthearted mystery after its hit “Dancing with the Stars.” “Castle” may be more in line with that show’s audience than the established “CSI: Miami” or “Medium.” (Then again, that audience may well go to bed at 10 p.m.)

Still, despite a game cast, there’s nothing revolutionary about “Castle.” A bickering couple solving mysteries has been done to death. And, with ABC already having discarded such innovative series as “Pushing Daisies,” “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Eli Stone,” that’s a real crime.

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