Writers, Psychics, Disgraced Magicians: Everyone Wants Their Own Version Of ‘Castle’ Now


The year is 2018 and Castle is the hottest show on television. This might seem odd to some of you, considering that Castle — in a very technical, specific sense — has been off the air since mid-2016, but it’s true. How else does one explain the upcoming barrage of very Castle-like shows set to premiere this month?

Heck, there are two debuting in the next two weeks, both featuring a by-the-book law enforcement figure teaming up with a decidedly non-law enforcement, decidedly non-by-the-book character to solve various murders and mysteries. ABC’s version is called Deception and features, I promise, a disgraced magician who begins working with the FBI. CBS’s version is called Instinct and features Alan Cumming as a brilliant author who agrees to work with the police to get material for a new book, which is notable because that would be exactly the plot of Castle if this character didn’t also happen to be a former secret CIA agent. Does his old CIA partner try to woo him back at one point by saying something like “because you were the best, that’s why”? I think you know he does.

(Deception earned my unconditional love months ago, the instant I read the phrase “disgraced magician.” The pilot only made me love it more, thanks to lines of dialogue like “You’re looking for a drug dealer… I’m looking for the illusionist who helped him get away.” We will be discussing Deception again after this episode airs. A lot. Possibly too much. I’m already okay with it.)

There’s actually a long history of cops and non-cops working together on television to solve crimes, with “non-cop” standing in for a bunch of other professions. There was Psych (fake psychic) and Bones (forensic anthropologist) and The Mentalist (fake psychic-type) and Rizzoli & Isles (medical examiner) and Medium (psychic who talks to ghosts) and even Murder, She Wrote (writer) if we wanna go way back. That’s not close to a comprehensive list, for the record. I’m just trying to give you a taste of the history and trends that pop up. Basically, the non-cop falls into three categories: psychic-type, science-type, and writer. That’s why I like the idea of Deception so much. More shows should feature disgraced magicians. I have always said this.


It also brings up an interesting point: Now that a disgraced magician has busted through the psychic/scientist/writer wall (or suddenly appeared on the other side without harming the wall at all, if we want to keep our metaphors straight), where can we go next? What other professions can be used as a crime-solving device? A few years ago there might have been only a handful that you could wrap your mind around, but again: disgraced magician. The options are almost limitless now.

Like, what about a show where a cop teams up with an Olympic decathlete to solve crime? That could be a thing, right? The Olympian could use the various skills learned for the various events to catch the bad guys. He could chase them down over distances ranging from 100 to 1500 yards. He could rip a piece of a fire escape off the side of a building and heave it like a javelin into the engine of a crime boss’s limousine to prevent his escape. He and his partner — very attractive, lots of sexual tension, of course — could come across a locked electrified gate and then he could say “Watch this” and pole vault over the whole thing with a tree branch.

Or maybe, instead of an Olympic decathlete, the cop’s new partner could be one of those home makeover experts from HGTV. Maybe he or she notices a backsplash that seems out of place within the context of the rest of the decor and they take a sledgehammer to it and, well well well, it turns out notorious crime boss Victor St. Aspen has been hiding his secret crime ledger in his mistress’ wall all along.

Or, perhaps, a struggling law enforcement agent could team up with a brilliant CPA who is on the autism spectrum but was trained by his military father at a young age to fight and use firearms and, while most of his work is for criminal organizations and crime syndicates, he also calls in tips through his handler to turn in the worst of the worst, and he and another CPA played by Anna Kendrick have a touching conversation about art and card-counting and whooooops it looks like I’m just describing the plot of The Accountant now. Sorry. Kind of.

Still. I think you get my point. Something to consider.