Everyone knows the best kinds of shows are the ones where a disgraced and/or hotshot member of a profession teams up with a cranky member of law enforcement to solve crimes. There were Bones and Castle, both of which ran for 22 seasons each . There was Deception, the show about a disgraced magician who started working with the FBI, and Psych, which I will defend until I perish. There’s The Sniffer, a Ukrainian show about a man who solves crimes using his highly-refined sense of smell (no I am not joking, Google it). And now there is Take Two.
Take Two is a new ABC series from the creators of Castle. It stars Rachel Bilson as a disgraced actress — substance abuse, rehab, etc. — who lost her job on a cheesy long-running network cop show called Hot Suspect where she said lines like “I’m greedy… for justice.” (I would watch every episode of Hot Suspect.) She starts tagging along with a private investigator played by Eddie Cibrian, for research, in the hopes of landing a new role. He has a mustache and a sordid past and a huge modern-looking office that leads to many unasked and unanswered “How did Monica and Rachel afford that huge apartment in Manhattan?”-style questions. This is about 90 percent of what you need to know about the show, premise-wise. You can fill in the rest pretty quickly.
Examples: Does sexual tension develop almost immediately? You know it. Is there a douchey character whose last name is “Duchemin,” pronounced “Douche man”? Boy howdy, is there ever. Do the opening credits include a shot of the thing where the two main characters back into each and act surprised but then do the thing where they lean against each other and smile at the camera? I am pleased to report that they do.
All of which might lead you to believe that this show is cookie-cutter network fluff, basically a gender-swapped Castle. And it kind of is. But I’m going to tell you something, ladies and gentlemen: Through two episodes, this show is way more fun than it has any right to be. And that’s mostly because Rachel Bilson rules.
Here’s a question: Why isn’t Rachel Bilson a huge star? We should have let her become a huge star. All of us. No one escapes blame in this one. She’s been great in everything. She was great in The O.C., she was great in Jumper (she was), she was great in the two or three episodes of Hart of Dixie I watched that one day. In another universe, one in which Hollywood made decent romantic comedies between like 2005 and 2015, Rachel Bilson is an A-list star. It’s madness. I forget about it sometimes and then I see her on TV again and I’m like “Oh, yeah,” and then I get so angry I grind my teeth into dust.
Which brings us back to Take Two. A show like this only works when the most charismatic character actually has a lot of charisma. That’s why Castle was such watchable fun in its first few seasons, because Nathan Fillion is a charming ham and the show let him do his thing. Same here. Rachel Bilson is kind of playing every Rachel Bilson character you’ve ever seen, almost as if Summer Roberts became a party-mad actress, but it works just fine because that character is great. And playing an actress means “acting” is the skill she brings to their investigation, which itself means, you guessed it, disguises. The show is two episodes old and we are two-for-two in Episodes Featuring Rachel Bilson In Disguises. I hope the show runs for eight seasons and there’s a new disguise every episode. I hope she pretends to be Santa Claus in the Christmas episode. I hope she rides on Eddie Cibrian’s shoulders and pretends to be Dirk Nowitzki in a trenchcoat. She could pull it off. I know it.
There’s also this, which is technically a spoiler from the first episode, but I enjoy entirety too much to not share with you:
Now, could all of this get stale after a while? Sure. There’s only so many disguises one person can wear. And could it all devolve into self-parody? Also sure. I was watching an episode of Castle before an NBA game started on TNT one time and I’m pretty sure I saw a tiger corner Castle, in Manhattan. But right now, in the hottest days of summer, when a light and fun show about a private detective and Rachel Bilson solving mysteries might be exactly what you need, whether you realize it or not, you could do a whole lot worse on Thursday nights, you know?
At the very least, it’ll do until we finally correct one of history’s greatest injustices and let Rachel Bilson become a star.