I’m not big on network shows these days. In the past I would become a fan, but then they’d let me down for one reason or another. I first watched ABC’s Castle because it was a quirky crime show about a writer. The formula worked for almost five full seasons, so it became one of the few shows I watched every week.
I can pinpoint the change in characterization and story quality to the last few episodes of season 5. Season 6 had some hiccups (remember Alexis’ fruitarian boyfriend Pi?) but I was still on-board after the finale. Okay, Beckett’s Vegas marriage was just bizarre and I personally don’t count that as canon, but the car crash opened up a million interesting possibilities. I was hesitant about season 7 but still looking forward to it.
Then season 7 hit and Castle had become a different show. The scripts made no sense and the characters were acting crazy. It’s one thing to “return to status quo” after a season premiere, but given Castle’s amnesia, it was difficult to buy that they could ignore the crash for weeks at a time. On the other hand, the writing was so terrible when they did bring in the story that I hoped they’d “forget it” completely (forget…amnesia…never mind). I would have been happy with a well-executed story that organically developed over the season. Of course, that didn’t happen. Season 7’s saving grace was the surprisingly-decent (if Scooby-Dooish) just-in-case finale with everyone clinking their glasses at Castle’s dinner.
I watched about two episodes of season 8. After holding on for more than two seasons, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Not only had the quality gone down, the show was no longer about a writer and his muse. It was about a convoluted story arc mixed with “Castle’s crazy theories,” which weren’t as smart and self-aware as they used to be.
Then all hell broke loose when Stana Katic (Beckett) and Tamala Jones (Lanie) were “fired.” Personally I don’t know what to believe. I’ve expressed different opinions on Twitter and tumblr, speculated this and that, but the truth is I have no idea. No one has any idea. We won’t know until a member of the cast writes a tell-all book in a few years. All I knew was, if Beckett died in the finale, I would mourn her even though I didn’t watch new episodes anymore. I would also mourn the show’s legacy and wonder how a great TV couple could have fallen so far. Reruns and even my favorite fanfiction stories would be tough to stomach. This also goes back to quality though, because if the scripts were good, the show would be able to withstand losing a main character. Say what you want about Grey’s Anatomy, but from what I’ve heard that show excels at moving on after a big loss.
So yes, I was relieved when Castle was cancelled. I know people have been tweeting stuff like “be nice because the cast and crew are now out of work,” and I respect that. I also sympathize given my own recent unemployment situation. As a fan, though, I have a right to be relieved that a favorite character won’t be killed off. (Most likely – there’s still a chance producers will use the tragic ending. I have trust issues, okay?) I also can’t help feeling relieved that poor writing won’t continue to ruin this show beyond repair. For me it’s not really about the behind-the-scenes drama. After hearing about Castle’s cancellation today, I’m sad that declining quality killed a show I used to love.