November 24, 2009

TV Showdown: 'Bones' vs. 'Castle'


Two of my favorite TV shows right now are Bones and Castle, which really shouldn't be a surprise since they are essentially the same show.  Both shows are procedural in nature, and they both have special consultants to assist the law enforcement agencies with their insider knowledge.  Both shows tweak the cop show formula by adding their own brand of humor, which actually makes catching killers enjoyable.  Both shows have ex-Whedonverse alums as leads.  And let's not forget all of the unresolved sexual tension.

While the two shows are so much alike, I've found myself loving each one differently, and after watching last night's episode of Castle, I have to admit that right now the ABC drama is slightly better than its FOX counterpart.  Of course, my opinion is completely subjective and irrelevant, but I decided to put together my Tale of the Tape for a Bones vs. Castle showdown.

Leading Man: Special Agent Seeley Booth (Bones) vs. Richard Castle (Castle)
I would have to say the Leading Man category might be the closest of them all.  Both, Seeley Booth and Richard Castle have the good looks that make women swoon, while also keeping a guy's guy quality, yet they are two totally different characters.

Booth is essentially Captain America without the Super Soldier serum.  He is a modern romantic who still believes in love, giving his all, and doing what's right.  He's a loyal friend and partner, a great father to his young son, and he still believes that family is the most important thing we have.  Booth is an old school leading man for a very modern time.

Castle has school boy charm, rogueishly good looks, and one of the quickest wits on TV today.  You know right off the bat that Castle is a celebrity that leads a playboy lifestyle, and he has a pickup line and/or quip for almost any situation.  He may not be the superhero type that Booth is, but he's just one of the boys, and we all love him for it.  While he can be a cad at work, he's one of the best TV dad's to date, and this is the role that he's the best at.

Overall, Booth barely edges out Castle for Best Leading Man because he's America incarnate.  Booth could be from a different, simpler time, but he's not out dated.  Don't get me wrong, he's a very modern leading man, but he's the kind of guy that teaches as all what it means to be a gentleman.

WINNER: Special Agent Seeley Booth

Leading Woman: Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones) vs. Detective Kate Beckett (Castle)
Once again, we have two leading characters that are equally captivating and a little bit mysterious.  They are both career minded, strong females that can hold their own, and occasionally have to put their boys in place, but they are not so one dimensional and they are two totally different types of leading lady.

Dr. Brennan's greatest strength is also her greatest flaw.  She's a brilliant scientist who uses logic to answer every question she encounters, but sometimes she's too logical which makes her socially awkward in real-life situations.  That is until she goes undercover, and this is when she lets her freak flag fly.  Also, her hyper literalness is a defense mechanism that keeps potential suitors at arms length.

Detective Beckett is a by the books cop that throws herself into her work, but this has made her one of New York's best detectives.  While she is also reserved and she shelters herself, Beckett allows herself to be one of the boys while maintaining her femininity.

Beckett takes the Best Leading Woman title from Bones because she's the more realistic of the two.  Yes, they're both damaged, closed-off, and strong leading ladies, but Beckett is not afraid to joke around with the boys, be comfortable with her sexiness, and she can be somewhat functional in a social situation.  Bones' biggest flaw to me is the same thing that makes her successful, and that is her brilliance.  She's so smart and logical that she has no grasp of the outside world, which leads to her naivete, and that can get annoying.  I sometimes find myself shaking my head at Bones, and I have yet to do that with Beckett.

WINNER: Detective Kate Beckett

Supporting Cast: The Squint Squad & Dr. Sweets (Bones) vs. The Castles, Ryan, & Esposito (Castle)
The supporting characters is what really makes the difference for me when it comes to the two shows.  On Bones, we get the Squint Squad which are the scientists that assist Dr. Brennan with the case of the week.  Dr. Sweets is the FBI's psychologist that was assigned to determine if Bones & Booth can be functioning partners, but has now become one of the team.  On Castle, there are two groups of supporting characters; Castle's family and the detectives that work with Beckett.

While the Squints add some dimension to Brennan's work environment, they're pretty much there to help answer questions about the case of the week.  Sure, we get a glimpse of their real lives, and some have had major roles in some of the plots, but really they're glorified technicians.  The Squints have also lost some clout once Dr. Zach Addy left the show, and was replaced by a revolving door of interns, so we have yet to find a character to really connect with.  Dr. Sweets is by far the best supporting character on the show because he's essentially there to help the audience fill in the blanks when it comes to Booth & Brennan.  He helps humanize the crime fighting duo, while also giving some psychological insight to the various cases.  Sweets also tries to hold up a mirror to Bones & Booth, so they can see what they mean to one another.

Detectives Ryan and Esposito are also there to assist with Detective Beckett on the case of the week, but they add a little flavor to the show.  One minute they're super serious cops, and the next they're cutting up with Castle.  They help make the precinct fun.  Also, we get to see a bit of Castle's personal life thanks to his mother and daughter.  The family scenes with the Castles is what really makes this show special because they allow us to really see what kind of person Castle is.  At work he's a jokester and is Beckett's foil, but at home he's a dedicated father and son.  His family is what makes Castle the most well-rounded character of the two shows.

WINNERS: The Castles, Det. Ryan, & Det. Esposito

Storyarcs: Bones' Family vs. Beckett's Family
Another similarity that Bones & Beckett share is the fact that they both lost someone close to them, and their dealing with these loses have been a driving factor in some of the overlying story arcs.

Bones was orphaned fairly young (her early to mid-teens), and her brother left her because he did not know how to raise his baby sister.  Being abandoned meant that Bones had to be put into foster care, which had a major impact on her development as a person.  We learn fairly early on that there was more behind her parents' lives than we were led to believe.  Essentially, they were con-artists.  While we have some more information about Brennan's family life, there are still some unresolved questions, and we're bound to see her family again.

Beckett lost her mother, and saved her father from alcoholism.  It's's obvious from the get go that the murder of Beckett's mother is a major influence on her life and career, but we don't know much more than what's been revealed so far.  We do know that she's very private about the matter, and insists that Castle not dig up her past, which of course he does albeit out of concern for a friend, but so far we know little else.

Right now, Bone's backstory and family storyarc wins out just because it's a little bit more developed, which makes sense since Bones had a three season head start.  So far, Beckett's backstory has fallen to the wayside and it hasn't been mentioned since the season two premiere.  I'm sure we'll be getting more of the details, but for right now, we have very little to go on.


Unresolved Sexual Tension: B&B (Bones & Booth) vs. Caskett (Castle & Beckett)
Finally, the element that makes both of these shows tick: the unresolved sexual tension shared by the two leads.  Usually, I'm not a sucker for UST because it's usually just a cheap trick used to reel in casual fans, but that all changed when I started watching shows like Bones and Castle.  The reasons these two shows helped change my perception about UST is because the tension is not always taking up center stage.  Sure, it's always kind of there, but every episode does not have to be dedicated to resolving it.

Bones and Booth are clearly complete opposites.  Bones is all about the head and logic, while Booth is all about the heart and gut instinct.  The fact that they are on two different ends of the spectrum is what makes them great partners, and potential lovers.  They balance each other out.

Castle and Beckett are also opposites because Castle is carefree and jovial while Beckett is more by the books and serious.  These differences make for some enjoyable moments because the two just verbally spar when they're together.

Right now, I have to give Castle & Beckett the nod over B&B because their sexual tension is more organic.  Sure, Castle and Beckett are opposites, but they're also a lot alike.  Beckett can hold her own with Castle when it comes to jokes, and Castle is smart enough to help out with the cases.  They do more than just balance each other out; they complement one another.

That's not to say that Bones & Booth don't complement each other, but they are so completely different that it's sometimes hard to see how that would work when it comes to a relationship.  Also, up until recently, Booth and Bones were so blind about their attraction whereas Castle and Beckett are in on the joke.  Castle & Beckett know that they're attracted to each other, which is great because they actually flirt, and egg each other on.  Bones & Booth may have some better "aww, how sweet" moments, but Castle & Beckett have more "wow, that's kinda hot" moments, and sometimes hotness beats out sweetness.

WINNER: Castle & Beckett

Really, both shows are awesome because they flip the ho-hum crime procedural genre on its head.  They're able to solve a grisly murder while tossing in some well timed humor, and they both have some great characters.  And as always, we cannot forget the wonderful sexual tension that fills the room.  Right now though, Castle just barely beats out Bones in a close 3-2 race.


Anonymous said...

I could not disagree more. Granted, I've only seen Season 1 of Castle and bits of season 2, but there is no way those FBI agents whose faces I can't even remember support the leads better than the Squints.

Both shows are the same mystery-drama that we've seen a dozen times before. What makes Bones great is the ensemble of characters that support the leads. I couldn't really care less about Beckett's agents or Castle's family. But Hodgins, Zack, Angela, Sweets, and even Cam all have their wonderful moments and have huge fanbases on their own.

But Castle beats out Booth for me in terms of leading man. Maybe it's the primitive female urge to love the bad boy, but I love Castle's playboy tendencies. Conversely, Bones is much sexier and funnier than Beckett because she's original. I've seen Becketts tons of times before in tons of shows.

Marcos said...

I agree that the Squints are more developed, and more of an ensemble than those on Castle, but I only really care for Sweets and Cam. The others could be phased out, and I'd be OK with that. While the detectives on Castle don't add as much as the Squints, it's Castle's family that pushes the supporting characters category in its favor. Castle has such a great relationship with his daughter and mother, that those scenes will always trump anything the Squints have to offer.

I totally understand why some females would be drawn more to Castle than to Booth, but I think the opposite is just as true. I think there are a lot of men out there that can relate to Booth more than to Castle, which could make him a stronger character to some.

As for Bones, while I agree that she is way more original than Beckett, she might be too original. Like I mentioned, what makes her unique can also hold her back. It's sometimes hard to believe that someone so brilliant can be socially inept, and still function in the scenarios that she's placed in. Her character can be distracting.

Either way, both shows are great, and right now I prefer Castle only a hair more than Bones, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I recently started watching Castle. I have to say, I like Bones a lot better. I like Castle, but Bones is just better. Bones is one of my favorite shows. I can't believe the supporting cast of Castle is considered better then Bones supporting cast. One of the best things in Bones is the interaction between all the characters. It's rare were I find myself drawn in by an entire cast, but Bones does that. All are complex, well developed characters and I love how they interact like a dysfunctional family. "There's more then one type of family". Also I like Brennan more then Beckett. Brennan is a more interesting character in my opinion and more unique. I believe Brennan has a type of autism called Asperger's syndrome. While the creators never said she did, my sister who is studying neurology and autism says Brenan acts like she has Asperger's syndrome.

That's just my opinion. I apologize for any typos, I injured my right wrist.

amateur said...

I am a fan of N. Fillion from Serenity/Firefly and it was the reason I watched Castle. The first season was amazing, funny, cool, and it established the characters' characters pretty well. The second season however... the writing becomes flawed and... mediocre. I'm sorry, I still love Castle but my biggest problem really is the story and writing (except Castle's punchlines)... plus the fact that "I'd seen it before...", much more like Bourne Identity versus Unknown, in which case, Bones is the Bourne Identity and Castle is Unknown.

Bones for me is smarter and more intelligible. Some situations may be unrealistic but the writing is more concrete than that of Castle.

Bones has a more solid story and writing. Even though unrealistic at times, well it's fiction and it's supposed to be like that. Contrast to Castle's punchlines is Brennan's social-stupidity and in-gracefulness. Booth's perfection is Becket's.

When it comes to special effects and all, Bones takes the trophy of course.

One other thing I found uncool with Castle is the beginning, like the first few minutes. It's predictable. Some plots are even predictable. Bones has more complicated twists and plots.

The supporting cast of both shows is superb. The introduction of different (recurring) interns for Dr. Brennan was genius, it's like different flavors of a candy. That is worth mentioning. I agree with Marcos, it's Castle's family (Martha and Alex) that made the show more edgy than Bones.

The two leading men are way opposite each other. Castle is fun, happy-go-lucky rich guy while Booth is the exact opposite.

The two leading women are much more similar than that of the leading men. They're both serious people. However, Brennan is rich and Becket is the opposite.

I agree with the author of Booth winning this trophy but I disagree with Becket leading over Brennan. Becket is Wonder Woman, super strong policewoman and it over powers Castle's masculinity. Although that's one complexity of Castle. Brennan on the other hand is much more fragile which makes Booth's character shine out - they complement each other.

Lastly, though, I think that Castle has more mass-appeal than Bones. Bones is like halfway between Grey's and CSI. Castle is funnier. Bones is smarter.

Anyway, just my opinion. I don't mean to offend anybody.

Marcos said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting. It looks like I'm in the minority, which is a good thing. Admittedly, I was higher on 'Castle' when I originally wrote this entry, and it's starting to become repetitive. I'm still a fan of 'Castle', but even I have to admit that it'd be a closer race today. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I think what you say is wrong from A to Z
- both female lead are the basically same: they had a difficult childhood, up until season 7 bones couldn't face love like beckett can't tell castle she loves him, they are socially awkward and have no problem with sex, the only difference is that bones' character and acting is so much better than beckett
- the squint squad are so much funnier and more interesting in characters (put a bunch a crazy weirdos in a room and we'll talk) than the rest of the characters of castle who are just basic cops and MEs
- Each bones' episode comes with a really weird death, fun jokes and moment and an extraordinary ending (aka "the double death of the dearly departed" the funniest episode ever made in TV show history)
In the end watching an episode od castle is like watching a really bad episode of bones

Marcos said...

@Anonymous 2 - I don't necessarily agree with everything you wrote, but thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you... I love both of the shows. But in my opinion Castle is better.

Marcos said...

@Anonymous 3 - Finally! Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I love Castle!

Anonymous said...

I like both shows, but I much prefer Castle. Bones starting going downhill in season 6.
There are only two things I disagree with you about...
I disagree about the supporting casts. While I love Ryan and Esposito, I'm more attached to the Bones supporting cast. Ryan and Espo are great, they're funny, but also have emotional depth. I love how Esposito helped Beckett through her PTSD. I also adore Martha and Alexis, especially Martha. But, the Bones supporting cast is the only reason I still watch the show.

I also disagree with favorite leading man. Personally, I like Castle better then Booth.

Marcos said...

Yay for Castle supporters!

MagicDriveF1 said...

I started as a Bones fan and have switched to Castle after a few episodes I have to admit.

At first I thought R. Castle was kinda stupid but the more I see him the more I prefer him to Booth. I'm tired of the ole' same story about the EX whatever (ex soldier, ex mega agent, ex sniper) to give the character sort of a special and forbidden past, nah, I don't like it. Booth is fun, mellow, but I'd prefer if he was a normal cop, not a tormented villain turned good. Otoh Castle looks more clumsy but he does not pretend to be Gi Joe, he's just a novel writer who likes thriller and is attracted by a good looking detective.

As for the the girls, I like them both, Brennan is socially annoying and extremely sincere and straight forward (kind of a social freak) and that makes her fun to watch. But as she is very open minded for many things she is very close minded for many other. Kate Beckett looks stronger, is even more serious than Brennan, and looks more real than her, she is a workaholic and she is respected by her people. But she does not pretend to be a rich know it all with an IQ of 200.

The UST is better in Castle because it does not show up every episode and looks more real. Booth is openly after Brennan (Romeo and Juliet) while Castle and Beckett have a more distant relationship even if deep inside they feel maybe their falling in love. But they date other people etc. and they even have bad times when the other is dating someone.

Murders are good in both shows, but I don't need extremely unrealistic and fictional murders to catch my attention. I prefer the investigation itself than the shape they find the corpse in. One thing that's better in Bones is that you know who's guilty less often than Castle, but Castle cases remind me of more real murders (real again).

I want write much about secondary characters because they both are interesting and play their supporting role. I especially dislike Castle's mother but that's me. As much as I think some of these characters in Bones are disposable.

Another plus for Castle is it has the murder of Beckett's mother in the background, way more interesting story than another EX SNIPER who wants to kill Booth.

Just my two cents!

Anonymous said...

Hi I really would like to know your opinion about Bones seasons 7 and 8. Are you still watching? Are you still enjoying it?

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