Season 6, episode 13 – Limelight – on the ABC comedy/drama Castle used a Miley Cyrus type plot which minimized the utilization of Nathan Fillion who is having issues with the network. Using the excuse of the Pi/Alexa subplot in order to use Molly C. Quinn to fill in for her screen dad Richard Castle.
The episode’s plot had to do with twenty-something popstar Mandy Sutton – played by Alexandra Chando – who started out in the business as Mandy Melody. The character Sutton portrayed on a kid’s show was a “normal teenager” by day and a crime fighting pop star by night, whose identity was protected by a pair of “Clark Kent” glasses. Certainly sounds like Hannah Montana.
The beginning of the show sees Beckett and Castle going to a crime scene where Mandy Sutton has been murdered. Speaking to Mandy’s mother/manager it turns out that after the pop star changed her image drastically, her old fans were very upset. Mom says that everyone wanted Sutton to be “Mandy Melody forever.”
While this characterization of the “murdered” pop princess type is obviously an allusion to Miley Cyrus, the Castle episode Limelight was also about the love/hate relationship between stars; their fans and paparazzi. The reliance on every part/member of this equation and the ramifications for those in charge when things change.
Writers for the show took a leaf from the real issues of Cyrus, who is that little bit younger than “Mandy” on the show, and a few pages from older pop star Britney Spears, whose father controlled her via conservatorship awarded to Jamie Spears when she underwent her spectacular, very public, meltdown.
One could even make connections between the story’s young female entertainer with Justin Bieber. Sure Beiber did not start out on television as a “Disney-type” princess, but he did start out as a cute kid on Youtube. Justin has undergone a bit of a transformation as well and his transition does seem to involve too much partying and partaking of drugs.
The 19 year-old Canadian pop star has been going through his own version of a meltdown, standing accused of egging his neighbor’s house, using sizzurp and, allegedly, smoking weed. While Bieber’s meltdown has yet to cost him too many fans, the Mandy Sutton character in Castle has, at the very least, disillusioned hers in a manner similar to Miley Cyrus.
However, Miley Cyrus has not, thus far, undergone any type of meltdown; public or otherwise. She has, however, undergone a dramatic and, some would say, drastic image change. She started out her career in a fashion similar to the fictional Mandy Sutton on last night’s Castle. Both singers, the real and made-up one, have changed their image.
Sutton, in the world of Castle, changed hers and underwent a personal meltdown that consisted of partying and all that entails. Cyrus, on the other hand, has not been caught out misbehaving off-stage. Her shenanigans have been of the purely sexual sort that has to do with her stage act and professional persona.
Still, apart from the obvious parallels of the television character’s start on kiddie’s television, it is a bit of a stretch to make too much of a comparison. Apart from the beginning of the show, where Mandy’s mother/manager talks of her daughter’s fans being very upset with her image change, Castle’s “Miley” appears to be a conglomerate of youngsters in show business.
Of course the introduction of this temporary damsel in distress was a perfect way to keep Fillion’s participation to more or less a minimum. The show focussed instead on Molly Quinn’s character, Alexis, who interacted with Mandy/Miley/Justin/Britney. All this girl to girl talk and action led to a fairly satisfactory ending.
Castle, has been more or less trudging along in its sixth season. Arguably, Nathan Fillion has been proven right in his objections over the engagement of Castle and Beckett, and their future marriage. The old “will-they-won’t-they” trope can keep interests up for a long time in TV world.
Ending the unresolved sexual tension between two characters often kills off a program. Even before the Moonlighting curse of Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis; going way back in television history, take the case of Bill Bixby in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. The show was a real winner, until, Eddie’s father (Bill Bixby) married the nanny/maid. The tension was gone and so was the show’s popularity.
It has happened before, and since, in television shows and history has repeated itself on other programs, like Moonlighting. The problem with any long running program is the danger of either repeating storylines or growing stale. This season of Castle seems to suffer from both.
Four day work-weeks aside, which is what Fillion’s tussle with ABC is all about, the show needs a boost of some kind. Having James Brolin guest star in episode 12 as Castle’s long lost dad only generated so much interest and is not the answer for a show trying to avoid the Moonlighting curse.
Using a Miley Cyrus type plot in the Limelight episode of Castle has not helped to turn the tide of a show that needs something to bring it back from the brink of cancellation. Speak to those “in-the-know” and they’ll say that Castle will most certainly be coming back for another season. ABC, however, has not promised a seventh season. It may take a little more than pulling a Miley Cyrus/James Brolin rabbit out of a hat to rescue this ailing series.
By Michael Smith