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“Can you dig it? Yes I can. I’ve been waiting such a long time”… for Monday. So that was Chicago ‘72 not ‘78, but the song really rocks the 70s. And so does”Castle.” So many wonderful lines written by David Amann; so many fantastic scenes, costumes and characters on display, you have to love it. I had to love it, a warm and funny prelude to the usually heavy finales.
“What’s the matter, Castle? You afraid of a little role play?” Was it that long ago when Kate teases Rick in “The Mistress Always Spanks Twice”? Or remembering Rick’s role playing, undercover, dealing cards with the tats in the Russian mafia and Kate dressing down, striping down, to go in after her guy, leaving Rick agog.
Or her role in her fine, red dress, dancing with Rick, with Rick and us, wondering, just wondering where she stashes her gun. How about the cherries…limes and lemons, under cover, and the blouse opened just a smidgen more, in the Old Haunt gig?
Now for “The kiss,” a great “role,” of course, undercover and “pretend”; these two are great role players. Ah, the sweet torment of “Lucky Stiff,” with red- hot Kate in her fine, tight- blue dress, checking Rick out, moving in as to kiss him, her hair flying in his face, her perfume scent a torture, his eyes closed, and then opened, checking out her assets, to the Page Brothers’ song? “I know you want it.”
LA undercover comes to mind and “the ten” beauty emerging from the pool with Rick spitting out his fluffy, sweet drink when Kate rises from the water. Undercover Elvis, or the three Elvises, are ingrained in the brain, over the top, enough said on that account. Kate’s travail undercover in “The Belly of the Beast” leaves a lasting, horrifying impression burned into our brains.
The Twelfth goes undercover in “That 70s Show,” and do we ever howl with the latest “to the max” caper. “Get down! Get down!” Kate orders when an orderly attacks them in the morgue. And do we ever “Get Down”! Rick ducks and the dead body’s arm drags across his head.
Ultimately this villain comments: “You run a tight ship”; I just howl. Robert Decker, the hired hit man is in interrogation and Rick pounds on the glass with new information. Kate’s face is priceless…throughout the episode. Where have we seen this before …“booya?”
But the joy here is that Kate is not particularly annoyed with Rick as in the past; she loves her guy, goes with his flights of fancy, and is charmed by him into turning the precinct into a 70s menagerie.
Now what still makes me laugh, a proud product of the zany seventies I am, is that the ensemble main cast were all born in the seventies, Stana Katic in the very year portrayed… 1978.
1978… Frozen In Time. Vince Bianchi, pinky- ring, watch, Coney Island penny in pocket, in a powder- blue suit turns up or is unearthed from his Jimmy Hoffa-esque cement coffin….under a building being razed.
Our lovers in sync know who the guy is. What a scene, Rick so elated. Rick declares the blue suit a “testament to the truly indestructible nature of polyester.” Now the powder blue suit is time honored I’ll have you know, with many a guy back in the day wearing one to prom and other guys married in such a confection of color.
The powder blue was Vince’s signature look when he went out to the Glitterati Disco Club and ultimately his burial suit as it were.
But before any more murder to do, consider the opening scene with Earth Mother Martha and her plans for Rick and Kate’s wedding which set the stage for the extravagance, unveiling and wonder of the 70s. Rick and Kate come out of their bedroom to a few salacious Martha remarks, and, of course, not denying anything. They plan to team work breakfast preparation.
Indeed, Martha has her own plans for them. Rick questions his mother. Are they similar to “your idea of bringing in ice sculpture of Nikki Heat or of hiring the Vienna Boys Choir or of having the Blue Angels fly overhead?” Rick does think in threes.
Sweetly Kate holds on to Rick’s arm supporting him in his talk to his mother as he nicely rejects Martha’s amazing wedding flower plans for a tunnel of love, made of flowers, culminating in a portrait of the happy couple etched in flowers. “It’s the essence of you.” Wow.
Back to the murder as one murder trail leads to another and, of course, we meet the real frozen- in- time guy, namely Harold Leone, who struck me from the first as Danny Devito, himself. A beautiful black woman is Harold’s keeper, for Harold is preserved in the 70s. She proclaims they can talk to him, for Rick’s look will be fine… just as retro as he is, and I crack up, but Kate will have a problem.
Harold, Vince’s consigliere and advisor dismisses Kate chauvinistically saying: “Have you ever seen a cop with an ass that fine?” Oh, oh.
“To be fair, you have a very fine…never mind.” Rick cannot resist commenting. Kate bristles only a little bit.
Then Harold identifies Rick as “Captain Castle.”
Harold calls Kate Cupcake, and thus we have born: “The Captain and Cupcake, “not soon to be forgotten, along with Kitten and Babe and many other endearing terms.
“No body; no talkie,” Harold insists, a remark too funny after his other body remarks.
Noticing Harold melting down, Captain takes charge: “By the power invested in me by the NYPD, I will personally arrange for you to see the deceased.”
“You are a man of honor, Captain.”
Oh, the looks Rick gets from Kate, and Rick knows he is in for it. “We need to talk, CAPTAIN.”
“Rookies!” Rick knowingly confides, sotto voce, man to man.
Off to the morgue we go and Lanie’s pad.
But before we visit her crib, we witness Ryan and Esposito or at least Esposito immersing in a video of the good- old bad days of Snooki Watts and Ray Price, two bad asses from back in the day. So Starsky and Hutch comes to mind or Hall and Oates or even a touch of Miami Vice. Esposito is impressed with the bad ass sliding across the fender of his red rocket. Ryan, well, he comments: “Good old days of police brutality.”
And so they interview “Louis the Lip,” the old hood on oxygen and smoking a cig, his wife afraid he will croak on the cigarette and leave her a widow, and Mike Carcano, a lot more alive and Vince’s rival then and still in charge. He didn’t terminate Vinnie, for they were planning a merger of families.
”Sometimes what is in the past should stay there,” Carcano warns. But I like the past so far. I kinda thought of Rick’s mob encounters and especially the one in “Murder He Wrote” attempting to interrogate the mobster over wine and a Kate- cooked, fine meal.
So finally off to the morgue. Rick’s blue eyes pop when Lanie appears in her “Halloween,” Foxy Brown, Pam Grier, skin tight, “the girls” all revealing, red dress. The music track is all blaxploitation, 70s films as Foxy Lanie appears. And male chauvinist Harold ogles: “Spin around and show me that caboose.”
“You keep dreaming,” Lanie slams back. “I’d rather be dead then end up in your bed. “ Fro hair and attitude and all, Lanie steals the scene, even the show, as she does in “The Blue Butterfly.” Then they are attacked by the “get down,” hit man. Esposito is dazzled and stunned with…the dress and…”the girls,” and Ryan quietly mutters without looking: “Nice dress.”
While Rick takes poor traumatized Harold home, Kate cools the scene.
Ah, so Rick convinces the man to open up and reveal who killed Vinnie. But he will only come clean at the precinct.
First the morgue, and now the precinct… what next? But…Rick has “called a specialist.”
Needing something to keep Martha occupied other than their wedding plans, Rick convinces Kate to let Martha run the show. “Trust me you’ll thank me.” NOT! But they are too sweet. Kate takes his arms; Rick holds her face; I wait for a kiss which did not happen.
Charm her, Rick can; or she just loves her man. On other occasions in previous years they would have been fighting with Kate telling Rick to go home, with Esposito and Ryan watching the fun, seeing mom and dad fighting.
Martha writes scripts and hires actors. And Rick belts out one of the best lines: “We don’t need actors to play cops; we have actual cops.” I sit stunned.
“Okay, Captain, let’s get the show on the road, “Harold commands Rick, music to Martha’s ears, never mind the warning signals.
“Let’s Boogie.” Rick agrees.
Enter Rick and Harold, center stage through the elevator curtain; the station is ready; perps and cops strut by, polyestered cool. Cupcake tells Captain: “Castle, if this does not work; I’m gonna kill you.”
Although one cool Kat, for a minute I think of Kate’s Pocahontas get up in “The Good, The Bad and the Baby”…”Baby “for short.
Now for the best scene of all scenes or did I already say that…before.
MADE THE SCENE! If ever those words are defined, Esposito’s and Ryan’s grand entrance has to be part of the equation.
Like Esposito, fro doo and polyester, colorful rags amazes, and I kind of think like he could be like Pi’s father or like brother like you know, you know. Streaming long, blond hair adorns Ryan’s head, cool mustache, cigarette hanging from his fingers, looking very cool. Strutting their stuff, Snookie and Ray make the scene.
With Harold only wanting to talk to the cool Ray and Snookie, the whole deal is about to blow up.
A woman of the street, Martha makes her grand appearance, a consenting adult….hmm, and Captain Castle checks out his scantily clad daughter, a teen runaway, a shock, a la “Final Frontier” with the same results. Alexis appears in a skimpy halter and dad would much prefer seeing her in a peasant blouse. I do remember them?
Kate’s bad actress scene is a hoot as she pretends: “I want the name of your pusher and I want it now.” She glances at the script for more instruction and cues, and then belatedly pounds the desk for emphasis. Not having it much better with his pigs and fuzz lines, Rick wonders just who wrote this crap.
In the interview Ryan is very cool with his take charge: “Here’s the low down. You’re going to solve the murder of Vince Bianchi, and that is something righteous.”
Now they want to take Harold to the Glitterati Club to stimulate his memory. The morgue, the precinct and now a club, and Kate fumes sorta. It’s out of control, if there ever was any control in the first place.
“What the hell is going on here?” Captain Gates roars, rather grandly, unexpectedly returning to the scene. Indeed that is the signature line of the show.
She chews out the Captain and Cupcake. I almost said and Tennille thinking of their songs: “Do That to Me One More Time” from 1979 and “Love Will Keep Us Together” from 1975. But I digress.
In the Red Rocket, Snookie and Ray take Harold to the disco club. But first Esposito tries the fender slide and lands on his butt. For Ryan: “Taking names in style, I get it now, really.”
For Esposito limping along: “Good for you.”
Getting it together, Harold goes after Frank Russo, the owner of the club then and now. Frank Russo, he feels killed his boss Vince.
In interrogation Harold reveals he has snapped out of his frozen 70s phase. And now the great reveal.
Vince really was going to merge with Carcano by marrying the sister. But Vince could not deny his true love for Harold. It wasn’t Harold Vince was ditching at the Club that night. The marrying merger was not going to happen. Vince loved Harold, his gay partner. The woman we met at Frank Russo’s house, a woman scorned and ditched murdered Vince. We did not see that one coming.
Finally, Rick suggests that they “honor the time along with the man,” thus wrapping up the case as so many 70s shows ended, with a laugh and explanation. They all go to the disco- revived club to get down and boogie. Like a scene from Saturday Night Fever, Kate and Rick take center stage.
Esposito is entranced with foxy Lanie, Ryan jive talks or moves to a different beat, Gates watches and busts Castle, mother Martha and Alexis groove, Captain Castle and his lady boogie… and Harold, alone, is happy at last, twirling, dancing his “Last Dance” with the memory of his friend and love Vince Bianchi. Beautiful Kate, stunning in red, teases Rick with her come on.
“I had no idea you could disco dance.”
“Oh, Castle; I’m a woman of many talents.” Rick cannot wait to discover all of her many talents. And to the max… we can dig it.