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.