When I was a kid, I had both a Tamagotchi and a Giga Pet. They were virtually the exact same thing, only with slightly different branding and the Tamagotchi only had three buttons instead of four.
Literally--exact same concept. Feed, "discipline," clean up waste, get in trouble at school for keeping in desk.
And yet, you know what? When the shit came down, the Tamagotchi was decidedly superior. My Tamagotchi is still in a box at my mom's house, so that sometime in the future, I can tell my kids how hard life was before iPods. And my Giga Pet? Who the hell knows where that thing went.
Yes, my friends, Castle is the Giga Pet to Bones's Tamagotchi.
More...I'll admit, I was intrigued by Castle. If you are a fan of, say, small electronic gadgets that you have to push buttons to care for, you may realize you could handle another. It might not be as good as the first, but it may still be more fun than, say, a SkipIt.
Okay, dropping the metaphor.
I love Bones. So when commercials for Castle started airing, I figured I'd give it a try. Even David Boreanaz could see that the new show was blatantly ripping off his own series, but I was willing to look past that for a series I might like half as much as I like Bones.
Unfortunately, it's just not as good.
The reason is not Nathan Fillion. That man is...well, I don't know what he is, but it's good, really, really good. And on Castle, he's very charming and sleazy--but with a teenage daughter so you know he's got some good guy deep down in there.
The reason isn't even really the procedure it's set up. It's not as sustainable as Bones; with Brennan's expertise, she's a bona fide benefit to each and every case she's consulted on, but Castle is mostly just a detriment to the investigations with brief moments of lucidity that help solve the case.
The problem with Castle is the "relationship."
Bones didn't start as a show about BoothandBrennan. Honestly, I think it was largely an afterthought. Obviously, when they were looking at actresses to portray Temperance Brennan, they needed someone who'd have chemistry with the already-cast David Boreanaz. (Good God, did they do a good job, huh?) And we've all heard the story about how in the audition, all the actresses took a step back when David advanced on them--except for one. Emily Deschanel challenged him and won the part. That scene in the firing range is hotter than hot, but it still took another, what, two years before Fox started promoting the show with the tagline "Solving Murders Takes Chemistry." I think they anticipated a more light-hearted, dark comedy-esque procedural with a character focus, not a romance.
But, you know, you make David and Emily work together six days a week, things happen.
Castle, meanwhile, obviously started out saying These Characters Will Eventually Hook Up.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. But in setting it up immediately as "Please Follow This Ship," they're not allowing any opportunity for them to grow on us. Or for their chemistry to develop. Frankly, I'm not buying it at this point. (Also, shame on whoever didn't think hard enough about the fact that the ship name would be "Caskett.")
You know what else I'm not buying? Kate Beckett.
Character intricacy was definitely one thing I'd taken advantage of on Bones. It would have been so easy to make Temperance Brennan a stereotype, and yet she is this multifaceted person who is surprising and awesome. How easy would it have been to make her a prude? A shut-in? A person who doesn't like to be touched? Humorless? By the same token, how easy would it have been to make Booth a jackass? A womanizer? Blue-collar?
Yes, Bones gets silly sometimes, but it starts from such a good foundation--this abandoned, brilliant, socially awkward but well-meaning forensic anthropologist and this sensitive, former sniper, man's man FBI agent with a military-grade protective instinct and a son he's crazy about.
Castle tries to build the story without the foundation. Kate Beckett is the stereotype.
EW's Popwatch blog (a must-read) suggested that the most recent episode brought new perspective and sympathy to Beckett's character. I haven't watched and don't plan to. Why? Because the reason why she's "the way she is" is because her mother was murdered. There's a touching story around it, but it's just not interesting anymore. Been there, done that, watched Sydney Bristow drive her car off a bridge.
Again, not to belabor the point, but the disappearance of Matt and Christine Brennan provided storyline for Bones's first two seasons and beyond. The fact that Beckett's mother was murdered--it's over. The case may not be closed, but there's nowhere to go but a one-episode tie up in season three or, at best, a three-episode arc where the killer's on the loose.
In sum, it's just made me more grateful for Bones, the only virtual pet a girl could ever need.