Title That ’70s Show
Two-Sentence Summary When the remains of a mobster who has been missing since 1978 are recovered in a slab of concrete, the team at the 12th precinct reopens this cold case. However, the only person with pertinent information on the case still believes it’s 1978, which means the whole precinct has to play along to get him to divulge information.
Favorite Line “By the power vested in me by the NYPD…” (Castle)
My Thoughts This was a ridiculous episode of Castle, and I mean that in the best possible way. If you ever want an example of why this show is different from any other procedural, “That ’70s Show” can definitely serve as Exhibit A. It didn’t move the plot along in any major way (beyond a little bit more wedding talk, but we all know how I feel about the likelihood of this wedding going off as planned). But after three weeks without an episode, it was nice to remember how much fun Castle can bring to my Monday nights.
There wasn’t a lot to analyze or critique in this episode. It was meant to be silly, seventies-inspired fun, and it was exactly that. So instead of doing a traditional review, I’m just going to list seven things I loved about Castle’s trip back in time to the 1970s.
1.) The Costumes and the Hair. I cannot imagine how much fun this episode must have been to style. From Lanie’s afro and red dress to Beckett’s gorgeous curls and orange dress in the final scene, the ladies of Castle were looking fierce in their 1970s finest. And every time I think about the guys in their polyester (and fake facial hair), I want to laugh. It was like a Halloween episode at the end of April, and I loved it.
2.) Captain Castle. First of all, did anybody else’s Firefly-loving heart soar when Castle was called “Captain” in this episode? Beyond just my Malcolm Reynolds nostalgia, I was thoroughly amused by all of Castle’s eager planning in this episode. As we all know, I love few things like I love Nathan Fillion playing excited, kid-in-a-candy-store Castle, and that’s exactly what he was when trying to prove to Beckett that outfitting the precinct like it was 1978 was a good idea. His exuberance was matched perfectly by Stana Katic’s skepticism in a way that harkened back once again to the early days of their partnership.
3.) All Things Martha. If you find a way to use Susan Sullivan well in an episode, it will automatically be an episode I love. I especially enjoy whenever Martha gets to be at her most theatrical, which was on full display in this episode. From elaborate wedding flower arrangements (featuring sketches) to scripts for everyone in the precinct (including the actors she brought in), Martha’s flair for the dramatic was at its most entertaining in “That ’70s Show.” And underneath all that great comedy was the sense that Castle and Beckett really do want her to feel like she’s a part of their lives, which was a very sweet sentiment.
4.) Saying No to Sexism. I really liked the subtle, humorous way this episode reminded me that the 12th precinct family is built around a trio of strong, smart, and talented women. With Gates gone, I thought it was a nice touch to show that Beckett is the one in charge of the precinct; it’s cool to see a precinct on television where the captain and second-in-command are both women. And this episode also featured Beckett and Lanie responding to Harold’s ’70s-era sexist mindset. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come when you see that just 40 years ago it would have been laughable for two women to be working as a lead detective and a medical examiner for the NYPD. But for those of us who watch Castle, it’s laughable for someone to assume that Lanie and Beckett aren’t the best at their jobs because they’re women. Harold’s comments about Lanie knowing her way around the human body and about Beckett’s—for lack of a better word—assets were written to provide humor but also to allow us to reflect on the positive social changes that have made those comments ridiculous instead of realistic.
5.) Ryan and Esposito. I would watch a summer miniseries that was just Ryan and Esposito pretending to be 1970s detectives—that’s how much fun I had watching Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever in this episode. They both seemed to be having a great time, which made it all the more fun to watch. And I’m pretty sure I’ve watched Esposito sliding off the hood of that car at least 10 times since last night. I haven’t laughed that hard during a Castle episode in a long time—maybe ever.
6.) Beckett Is a Terrible Actress (But a Great Disco Dancer). Another moment of comedy I loved in “That ’70s Show” was Beckett acting out her script from Martha. It takes a great actress to play a bad actress, and it’s a sign of just how good Katic is at comedy that she pulled it off with aplomb. While Beckett may not be good at everything, she certainly has a variety of talents, including disco dancing. It was pure fun to watch Katic and Fillion let loose and dance at the end of the episode. I never knew that “disco dancing with the 12th precinct family” would be something I’d genuinely want to do, but who wouldn’t want to do that after seeing this episode?
7.) Everyone Was Having Fun. Happiness can be contagious, and that’s how I felt about this episode. Was it the best Castle episode ever? Not at all. Did it make much sense? Nope. But was it an enjoyable way to spend an hour on a Monday night? Yes. I didn’t need this to be a deep, complex episode. I just needed a reminder of why I miss this show when it’s away. Castle is, more often than not, a show that makes me happy. And “That ’70s Show” was all about having some ridiculous fun. After six seasons, the show has more than earned this kind of random silliness in small doses because that silliness was rooted in characters we all know and love. The actors seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I enjoyed myself, too. And with what’s sure to be an emotional last couple of weeks of the season on the horizon (because when has a Castle season not ended on an emotional note?), it was nice to have a reminder that this show and this cast are truly one-of-a-kind in the way they handle comedy as well as drama.