Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Castle: Season Two

Read my review of Season One here.

The first season of Castle ends on a huge emotional cliffhanger, and I can't even imagine what it was like for audience members to have to deal with waiting for the next season to start. Luckily I was able to start the next disc right away.

Which may be why I found the first episode of season two a little more jarring, and not as satisfying a conclusion as I think they could have done. Season two sometimes felt like it was re-establishing the show's premise, like season one was a pilot season and this was when the real story starts.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Going back over the list of episodes in this season, I see a lot of standouts that I really loved, and that helped move all of the characters along as the season progressed. There were a few that tread along well worn tropes- the bondage/S&M episode in particular has been done by CSI multiple times. But Castle did their take on it rather well, if they didn't break new ground with it. I am actually completely thrilled that the "backstage in the world of high fashion modeling" episode didn't shoehorn a reason for Beckett to have to walk the runway, like every other show does when this episode comes around.

The show very quickly went for a story about Detective Beckett's new celebrity status as the inspiration for Nikki Heat, in a two-parter that was as enjoyable for poking fun at other shows as it was a fine episode of this one. The show also starts to get a very fine parade of guest stars this season, which I think speaks to the high quality of the writing they have to work with.

I spent most of season two not sure where I was on the fence of a relationship between Castle and Beckett, but the character of Detective Demming really didn't help matters, since he was so obviously there simply to be a foil and had almost no character other than that. In a show where everyone else is so well rounded and interesting, he stood out like a sore thumb. He wasn't objectionable, he just wasn't particularly great either, and in a show where everybody is great...well, I was glad for him to go.

The highlight of the season is, of course, Sucker Punch. While you know that more developments in the case of Joanna Beckett's murder are coming, the way that this episode goes through it is gut wrenching. It reveals so much more character, even as it's answering questions and posing more problems. Everything about it is done to perfection, and the resolution of it could not have been more perfect.

The only fault I can really find with season two (Demming aside) is that the end of the season felt off somehow. The "we must separate them over the summer while the show is off the air so that they have to work to reconnect next season" isn't just old news, but it's something that a lot of shows will get into a habit of doing. And I was very worried that Castle would do that, over and over. Obviously I should have had more faith in the show, but it just wasn't as strong a note to end on as it could have been.

Sleep Studies

So, tonight I'm going in to get a sleep study done. It's actually something I've gone through before, so when I was reading the book Dreamland a few months ago and he describes it like this strange and other-worldly thing, it was kind of amusing.

It does seem weird when it's written out. You sleep in a random room in a lab, with a bunch of wires sticking out of your head, and monitors all over the place. But it wasn't all that strange the first time around for me, it felt like sleeping in a hotel. The part that was really weird, for me anyway, was that there was somebody watching on a monitor. Though they explained to me they only start watching when you're actually asleep, since they can tell the difference on all the other equipment.

What interests me though is that this has become such an industry. I think it means something greater that there are so many sleep clinics and doctors specializing in it, because so many people have problems. Technically, what most people are being tested for is sleep apnea (which is, incidentally, what I was being tested for and despite a negative result what I have to go in to prove again tonight). On the one hand, there's an increased awareness that leads to increased testing and diagnosis. It's not so much that the rates are rising but that we're figuring it out. This is true of a lot of diseases that are getting a lot of attention these days.

But at the same time, I think there's a large degree of this being a result of our cult of tiredness and caffeine that we've nurtured in the modern world. It's a point of pride how little sleep we've gotten, and how much coffee it takes to make us human. We have little competitions every day with co-workers about who is more exhausted, like it means something.

In our world, being more tired and needing more coffee is a sign of strength instead of weakness, when it should be the opposite. But we value work over sleep because it shows self-sacrifice and putting other things over our own comfort. People are addicted to caffeine in a way that would land them in rehab if it were any other substance, but instead we praise them and brag about how we need even more coffee than that. And what's worse is that our bosses expect this of us, and exhausting yourself is praised and rewarded on that level too.

It's a topic that I get angry about pretty often, but I think in general we'd all be healthier and happier if we just got eight hours of sleep a night. I get why people don't, because they're busy and there are only so many hours in the day. I have insomnia, I understand that part. But what I'm struggling with now is convincing myself to value eight hours asleep more than I do other things, to make it a priority over working, or writing, or reading, or watching something I want to see. I don't know how to do that, to make going to bed and sleeping more important than almost anything else.

But the way our society treats rest and sleep certainly isn't helping me, because I feel like everybody else would start judging me harshly if I started saying "I'm sorry, but I go to bed at 11 p.m. every night, even weekends, because it's important."

I know it's wishing for too much in wanting the world to change. But I can't help thinking we'd be healthier and happier if we did.