Castle catches the disco fever in “That 70s Show” when a witness to a mob killing thinks Jimmy Carter is still president. Getting him to think the precinct is up to funk is a tall order, but don’t worry: Martha’s on the case.
- Director: John Terlesky
- Writer: David Amann
- Cast: Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan
Episode Title: “That 70s Show”
A building demolition uncovers a body from 1978 that turns out to be a notorious NY gangster. Castle and Beckett find an eccentric lead in Harold, one of the victim’s old buddies who went nuts and still thinks it’s the 70s. This leads to more suede and sexism than the modern norm, but he claims to know who the murderer is. Beckett’s frustrated, but Castle’s eager to put on a show for him, dressing a body for him to ID and Lanie as the blaxploitation version of a mortician. The mob element is legit, because a hit man tries to take a shot at Harold as they’re leaving. So the next time he comes to the precinct, Castle convinces Martha to convert it into the 70s, with typewriters and mustaches. She agrees and everyone has a script. Ryan and Esposito dress as two legendary cops Harold recognizes. Meanwhile, Gates comes back and is not pleased to find all the mayhem. But things start to make sense when Beckett matches two lucky pressed pennies the victim and Harold both carried. Our murdered man was supposed to propose to the sister of a rival crime family and unite them, but he was in love with Harold, and couldn’t do it. She killed him out of jealousy, and her brother covered it up.
- Captain Castle: When Harold misidentifies Castle as a police captain, we could see the delight radiate off him. As much as the 70s deception was to get information, warping the precinct was the most fun a bestselling author could buy. Martha’s involvement upped the game of the whole production. It was great to see her holding court. The “scripts” she came up with were spun with a stilted delivery. Stana Katic is the tops at acting like she can’t act.
- Sookie and Ray: Firstly, our Best Dressed goes to Lanie. Tamala Jones needs to star in a Pam Grier biopic and stat. But for best 70s swagger, we had our two favorite swinging dicks, Esposito and Ryan. Their misadventures in vintage lingo and style were the funniest beats of the episode.
- Disappearing Act: Because the dress-up was executed so fabulously, the mystery felt more like window dressing. None of the suspects really popped; the real twist in the story, that Harold and the victim were lovers, was revealed very close to the end. We could sense the episode’s tunnel vision to get us to the disco party. Catering to Harold’s mental state unconditionally, dressing up the whole precinct, those were huge leaps of logic. But were we okay with them? Yes.
- Funny Not Funny: The one real shaky aspect of “That 70s Show” was how easily our modern males picked up on Harold’s sexism. Beckett does have a nice ass, but if she’s visibly frustrated at being objectified, Castle, as her partner shouldn’t tolerate it. The audience gets the right cues to be appalled from the ladies of homicide. We don’t want to dig too deeply into the episode through a lens of gender conventions. But it would’ve been nice for some of the guys to go there.
Was “That 70s Show” just an excuse to get Lanie in a Foxy Brown outfit and get the cast on the disco floor? Absolutely. But isn’t that just wonderful enough to work? Dressing everyone in costume was a nice welcome back to the show. The key to Castle, is that these people are fun to hang out with. But they also solve crimes and stuff.
Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Who had the best 70s digs? Let us know what you thought in the comments.