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Title: Castle: The Complete Eighth Season

Movie: :3stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:77

Whoo boy. I never thought I would say this but I’m actually disappointed in a season of “Castle”. Even though the show has always been a bit derivative, it has managed to capture the hearts and viewing habits of millions as Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic’s chemistry just propels the show forward. I had been hearing rumors for YEARS that Stana and Nathan didn’t get along, even going so far as to going to couple’s therapy to try and save their off the screen working partnership (although their chemistry onstage is magnificent, which is a testament to their skill), but it wasn’t until halfway through the 8th season that the announcement came that Stana’s contract for a 9th season wasn’t renewed. I was a bit shocked, but Nathan Fillion came out and said that he’d like the show to continue for as long as it could. Now, for fans of the show that seems like an impossibility being that THE driving force behind the show actually working is the relationship between Beckett and Castle. How do you continue that without one of your main players? Well, the cancellation notice came a short time later and after watching the full season I can see that the writing was on the wall for quite some time. The entire season has a myriad of flaws, with the main one being that it was obviously setup as a test bed to see how the audience would react to a Beckettless show.

Guns and bullets and bears oh my! “Castle” has stretched believability in the action sequences and serialized plots before, but never so much as this season does with an entire hit squad and shadowy CIA operatives looking to put a bullet in our heroes. Last season we had a giant mystery about Castle being abducted before his wedding and missing for two months, and only coming back after he allowed himself to have his memory wiped so that he couldn’t remember this big terrible thing. Well, this season we have Beckett receiving a call about some mysterious connection with Senator Bracken (Jack Coleman, best known for Claire’s dad, Noah, in “Heroes”) and voila, she’s in over her head with assassins and bullets and some secret evil CIA operative who was Bracken’s old silent partner. Castle’s little trip last year down amnesia lane happens to tie into this story too, but the suspension of disbelief just gets a bit too much for me to handle. I admit I was rolling my eyes a little by the second episode.

After things get MOSTLY cleared up, Beckett decides that she NEEDS to look into this conspiracy even deeper, and even though she is in the clear her bulldog mentality just won’t let it go. Knowing that she will only put Castle’s life in danger, Beckett separates from her husband of one year to put some distance between herself and him to alleviate the danger. This, of course, sends Castle into an all-out mission to win her heart back, which tends to span just about every episode for the first 2/3 of the season.

After the 1st couple of episodes the show gets back to the episodic “villain of the week” patter than made it so loveable form the beginning, with some stand out episodes that are a lot of fun. Castle and his daughter Alexis (an absolutely GORGEOUS Molly C. Quinn) get into some fun scrapes with a car art forger, a really cool puzzle episode, as well as a few episodes where Castle gets to indulge in his addiction into the supernatural with a chase after Aladdin’s lamp. However, the negative does seep into these episodes a bit too. This comes in the form of the overarching mystery with the evil CIA guy. EVERY SINGLE episode shoehorns in something about the main plot line and that acts as a downer to the fun episodes, and the episodes directly about that main plot feel more like filler than anything. By the end of the day you just want some good, fun Castle and Beckett episodes, but you’re forced to watch these hysterically over actioned and over dramatic pieces on a mysterious plot that once revealed is actually the worst part about the whole season. The villain is of course someone that they’ve been dealing with all season long, and like the final reveal of “Red John” in “The Mentalist”, just ends up feeling hollowing and empty.

I still really enjoy the characters though. Javier and Ryan are still fantastic as the two goofballs of the team, and Alexis gets a LOT more to do this season for a reason I’ll bring up in a minute. There ARE two new additions to the show though. These two are in the form of Vikram Singh, the FBI computer analyst who clues Beckett in to this whole scandal, and ex MI-5 agent turned freelancer, Hayley Shipton (Toks Olagundoye) who helps Alexis keep the Castle PI firm up and running. Vikram Singh is a tolerable character, but once again, he’s connected to the atrocious conspiracy plot and that is kind of a negative point here. Hayley is actually quite a bit of fun as the hardened ex MI-5 agent who lends her expertise to toughen up Alexis a bit and give Castle some structure.

The episode rundown:

1 – XY
2 – XX
3 – PhDead
4 – What Lies Beneath
5 – The Nose
6 – Cool Boys
7 – The Last Seduction
8 – Mr. & Mrs. Castle
9 – Tone Death
10 – Witness for the Prosecution
11 – Dead Red
12 – The Blame Game
13 – And Justice for All
14 – The G.D.S.
15 – Fidelis Ad Mortem
16 – Heartbreaker
17 – Death Wish
18 – Backstabber
19 – Dead Again
20 – Much Ado About Murder
21 – Hell to Pay
22 – Crossfire


Rated TV-14

Video :4stars:
“Castle: The Complete Eighth Season” is pretty much par for the course as it gives a very stable looking image that fits in line with the previous 7 DVD release. The show is filmed digitally in the standard TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in the MPEG2 codec and looks amazingly good for a DVD. There is almost no digital artifacting except some mild macroblocking and though sometimes is a tad soft, it never is so much that it causes a problem with viewing. The inherent black crush is still present, but that has been an issue with the broadcast shows as well, so I can only concur that it is source based. Colors are bright and natural, with a nice layer of natural greens and browns. Teal color grading is the same as previous seasons, and the accompanying fine detail is excellent, leaving me very satisfied with how the encode turned out.

Audio :4.5stars:
This season of “Castle” actually gets a boost in the pants with a better 5.1 Dolby Digital track than usual. I would probably say that it is due to the fact that this is a much more action packed season than most of the others. With hit squads and assassins (one of whom was actually martial artist actor Daniel Bernhardt) after Beckett and Castle there is a LOT more bullets flying by overhead and the soundstage benefits form that more robust action orientation. Surrounds are still good, adding in some oomph with those action bits. Dialog is always above reproach as the highlight of the track and the LFE channel is acutally used quite extensively this season with plenty of action to keep it busy. The encode is still given a 384 kbps bandwidth, but the Dolby Digital track doesn’t seem to suffer from bitstarving as some other shows have.

Extras :2.5stars:

• The Great Escape
• Audio Commentaries
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes

Overall: :3.5stars:

I had heard that Season 8 of “Castle” suffered quite a bit as the show juggled a few different ideas with the rumors of Stana Katic not having her contract renewed, but I didn’t expect the show to suffer THIS much. The obvious tweaking of the show to see if it could survive without Beckett and the mishandling of two major (and simply ridiculous) plot lines hampered the show from beginning to end, and makes it easily the weakest of the “Castle” seasons, and I’m VERY forgiving of the show as I’ve watched it from beginning to end as it aired. Thankfully the audio and video tracks are right on par and there’s still enough fun to keep long time “Castle” fans coming back to see the show wrap up, but remember to have your expectations lowered just a little in doing so.

Additional Information:

Starring: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, John Huertas
Created by: Andrew W. Marlowe
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: ABC Studios
Rated: TV-14
Runtime: 946 minutes
DVD Release Date: August 23rd 2016

Buy Castle: Season 8 DVD on Amazon

Recommendation: Rental/Check it out

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