Castle: That '70s Show

“We get to solve the greatest mystery of the disco era, besides the popularity of disco itself.”

Construction workers find the body of a mobster who disappeared in 1978. The prime suspect is a guy who believes he is still living in the ‘70s, so to get the information they need from him, the 12th Precinct goes back in time. Monday Night Fever, baby.

This episode got off to a creaky start, with more wedding nonsense between Martha and Caskett. Although I am looking forward to the event, I am getting a little tired of all the planning. Or, to be more precise, the lack thereof. Luckily, it wasn’t long before we got into the murder and got to go back in time.

The scene where Caskett meet Harold and realize what they’re in for made giggle, far more than is probably good for me. The wallpaper, the clothes, the car, All in the Family playing on the television brought me back to the days of my youth. The ambient music was such an homage to The Godfather that I am guessing the producers paid for the privilege.

Even better was the role reversal. For years now, we have become accustomed to seeing Beckett in charge and Castle following her lead. Harold, bless him, assumed just the opposite. Not an unfair assumption for those times, I’m afraid.

As we saw each of the characters we know and love show up in their ‘70s outfits, I just kept grinning. Lanie looked terrific; Esposito’s reaction was priceless. Please, oh please, Castle PTB, bring these two together once and for all.

But, the crowing achievement was Esposito as Snookie Watts and Ryan as Ray Price. Watching these two getting into character was worth the price of admission. My favorite comedic moment in the whole Castle canon to date was Ryan when he discovered Caskett were dating. That has been surpassed. Esposito sliding across the car and landing on his ass is now my favorite. I watched it over and over, laughing until I cried.

As much as I loved this episode, the fact that Glitterati was a disco again was a bit of a stretch that made me roll my eyes. Until, that is, the boys showed up there and I started laughing again. God, those dresses and shoes were awful, not to mention the Farrah Fawcett hair.

The laughter made the final minutes of this episode all the more touching. As the truth came out about Vince and Harold and the reason Vince was killed, I welled up. The romance between the two men was a wonderful twist that I didn’t see coming, even if I did know that Marie was the killer because, well, because she was the early person on screen we never saw again. During the re-watch, I noticed that the writers dropped quite a few hints about the true love story. I had been laughing too hard to catch them.

What was particularly well done was a reminder of how far we have come in the past forty years. Although it may not always seem it, the way that most people treat women, people of color, and homosexuals is far better than it was when I was growing up. In spite of appearances, society can change for the better.

Although I loved this episode, I feel as Esposito did at the end, “The ‘70s is a cool place to visit, but I would not want to live there, bro.” I really want to hear from those of you who do not have the fond memories of the ‘70s that I do. Did this one work for me because I lived through it or was it as good as I think it was?

Strong kudos to the writers, producers, costumers, make-up artists, set designers, and actors. They nailed it. As always, there is only one rating for an episode that makes me laugh out loud and then cry at the end. Four out of four pressed pennies from Coney Island.

Tidbits:

— Martha makes me laugh out loud. The Tunnel of Love, indeed. Having said that, there is a small town in Italy called Acquapendente. Every year, the town holds the Festa del Fiore in which clubs of kids create pictures made entirely of flowers. I was lucky enough to get to see it one year.

— It’s been a while, but we finally got another Firefly reference. “If you ask me, Frank’s just pointing at something shiny so you quit looking at him.”

— Pathological grief, although used as humor here, is a very real and very troubling affliction. People who suffer from this are generally unable or unwilling to experience grief and, therefore, cannot move on. Failure to grieve can lead to severe physical and psychological illnesses. Recovery usually involves much more than a dance in a disco, but who am I to judge?

— Snookie Watts and Ray Price, if you missed it, were based on Starsky and Hutch. Back when I was in high school, more than one of us had a crush on David Soul. The “documentary” made me laugh so hard, I had to watch it again. The language and the cigarette — those were the days. When Castle brings Harold into the station, there is also a bald cop sucking on a lollypop. That would be Kojak. Many of the actors in the precinct were a direct reminder of a ‘70s icon.

— The morgue shooter took off his mask in front of a surveillance camera. Really, we need to introduce this guy to Finch and the gang.

— I’m going to have Donna Summer stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I just know it.

Soundbites:

Harold: “I mean, have you ever seen a cop with an ass that fine? If this is women’s lib, I’m all for it.”
Beckett: “Excuse me?”
Castle: “To be fair, you do have a very fine... never mind.”

Ryan: “So, good ol’ days of police brutality.”
Esposito: “Man, you just don’t get it.”

Harold: “Come on, baby. Once you go white, nothing else seems right.”
Lanie: “I’d rather be dead than end up in your bed, jive turkey.”

Castle: “We don’t need scripts and we don’t need actors to play cops. We have actual cops!”
Martha: “That is such an ignorant thing to say and an insult to the craft of acting.”

Harold: “I can’t believe you let this chick boss you around.”
The looks that Esposito and Ryan give Beckett were fantastic.

Ryan: “All right, Harold. Here’s the low down, brother. Yeah, yeah, sure, me and Snookie, we book around town in the red rocket busting bad guys and hunting stone cold foxes, but you are gonna solve the murder of Vince Bianchi, and that is something more righteous than we have ever done.”

Ryan: “I tell you, these clothes, that car, I feel invincible, man. Like Ray Price. Kickin’ ass and takin’ names ‘70s style. I get it now, baby.”

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.

5 comments:

sunbunny said...

Best episode this season. Without a doubt. Yeah, okay the whole Gliteratti is a disco again thing was ridiculous. The idea that they would redress everything and everyone for the benefit of one guy also required a bit of mind stretching. But I got over that at lightning speed. Castle has made me laugh before and it's made me cry, but never in the same episode before. And I love how into everything Martha got. With the actors and the scripts and the crazy deep background on all the characters. So her. :)

migmit said...

I'm Russian, born in 1981. I liked everything except that bit with Esposito landing on his ass. It was SO very predictable, that I felt like I've already seen it. A thousand times. Actually, I saw that coming before that "documentary" even ended.

Skywrite said...

Great review. Loved this episode, too, because the 70s are full of happy memories and good times. So many fun and funny references. Will have to watch it again to catch the ones I missed. Would have loved a Barney Miller reference given they're in the 12th precinct! A few convenient devices, but forgiveable given the fun and heart brought by this episode.

ChrisB said...

migmit - wow. I did not see the Esposito fall coming at all, which is why I think it struck me as so funny. I love slapstick humor, of which that was a prime example.

Skywrite -- what a great idea about a Barney Miller reference! I hadn't thought of it until I read your comment, but that would have been a perfect homage to throw in.

Thanks, all, for the comments.

mazephoenix said...

What a fun episode. We got Crosetti from Homicide as a guest star. Jon Polito has done many things, but that's how I'll always think of him.
The Starsky and Hutch stuff with Ryan and Espo was priceless.
Susan Sullivan looked stunning in her disco outfit..and whoa Lanie..she rocked hers too.
Saw the Kojak guy too. Fun as I'm doing a rewatch of it now. Some things have aged badly..but some episodes are really good. The first even has Harvey Keitel in it.
Great review as ever.