First of all, Nathan Fillion is just so scrumptiously adorable. (I know, I know, I keep using the word "adorable," but I can't help it, everything about this show was just adorable.) He was all crinkly-eyed, and cute. A flash of wit and humor, but we were also shown (not told) that he's a good guy -- his relationship with his daughter -- more on that later -- was not cutesy, over-the-top, but also not neglible enough to be there just for show. In addition, the fact that his mother is living with them, and how their relationship is presented, it gives you hints that he has a great heart. His character was cocky, but really not arrogant, I don't think. At least not to me. He was someone who loves writing when it's fun, and loves knowing all the ins and outs of his chosen genre. And really DOES know his stuff. Not just the medical/murder stuff, but also in how well he reads people. That was cool.
Stana Katic as Det. Kate Beckett didn't impress me in the long preview I saw a month or so back, but I found her utterly (yup, here it comes again) adorable. She was sharp, and no-nonsense but not caricature-ly so. She felt real to me. She's a good actress and is quite striking, but not in an unrealistic for a cop way. I really liked her. As for her and Fillion together!? Wonderful chemistry. I rewound several small moments between them, some adorable, some heated. They are just so on. Great chemistry, great connection. I'm sold on wanting them together already after one episode. Heck, I was there after their second scene.
Now, the daughter ... I do not get this recent thing in television with having a single, divorced father but it's shown up in Shark, Californication -- more THAT later -- and Lie To Me. It's probably in others that I've never watched too. I don't get it, but at least here, I liked his daughter and the flow of their relationship was sweet without being sickly, and dsyfunctionally realistic considering Rick Castle, his clearly contentious-the-love-is-so-gone relationship with his ex-wife, and of course, his floozy, boozy mom.
- The murder wasn't some big whudonit, but I think it's going to be more like Moonlighting's cases were ... they were just there to hang the relationship upon. Works for me.
- Ooh, and I loved that Stephen J. Cannell and James Patterson (I thought those were the names I thought they were in the credits!!) had cameos as famous mystery writers in the poker scene, hah! That was great.
- Squee!! Rob Bowman (of The X-Files fame) is an executive producer and directed this episode. Double squee!!!!
- I loved that Beckett was a fan of Castle's work, and it wasn't the tired cliche of her being dragged kicking and rolling her eyes to read his books.
- One small nitpick. The first thing I noticed about Det. Beckett was her dark red lipstick. In the very next scene when Beckett comments on her lack of a love life, a female co-worker tells her she could start by wearing lipstick. Just a small thing, and her lips were noticably in non-bright-lipstick glory throughout the rest of the show. ::shrugs::
Finally, it's been mentioned that this is supposedly some rip-off of Californication. To that I say: Bullshit. They are both writers. They both have a daughter. They both star sci-fi famous, over-the-top charismatic actors. That's it. That's the extent of the comparision. At least based on the first episode.
Hank Moody is a self-loathing asshole who is still in love with his ex-wife and dealing with major psychological issues that manifest themselves in an insane sex life. Rick Castle is a laughing rascal with a healthy dose of self-awareness who briefly has a writing block because he was no longer in love with his signature character. That "issue" is handled by the end of the show. Californication is a psychological dramedy about this intensely complex man and his life and the ups and downs and how he copes. Castle is a light-hearted mystery/romantic comedy between a writer and a cop.
Personally, despite my decade-plus deep, deep love for David Duchovny, I couldn't stand more than two episodes of Californication; I lasted a half an hour into the first episode and the next one based on Duchovny alone. I couldn't watch it any more, not even for him. This show? I already adore and hope it only gets better from here on out. So, I'm sure the ratings suck and I'll lose yet another show I adore. *sigh*
ETA: Just checked the ratings. They were dismal. Double sigh. Of course.