When I first heard the pitch for Castle–a male writer follows around a female cop for research–I thought it sounded like a gender reversed Bones. That being said, I had only seen a few episodes of Bones and was wooed by Nathan Fillion’s charm (plus the fact that Castle doesn’t conflict with any other shows we watch) and became a regular Castle watcher. But, after watching four seasons of Bones in about a month, I figured the blogging world could benefit from a side by side, tale of the tape comparison between the two shows about crime fighting pairs in which one of the members happens to also write books. And away we go.
BONES: Forensic anthropologist and Jeffersonian employee (which is a stand in for the Smithsonian) Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) works with FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) on cases the FBI can’t solve themselves thanks to intense decomposition. Early episodes seemed very concerned with why Bones and Booth had been called in and made note of why in each episodes. Brennan happens to be an author who writes books based on her science and the cases she works with Booth. Bones uses a combination of scientific and intuitive mystery solving.
CASTLE: Best selling mystery writer Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is poker buddies with the mayor and makes a deal with him to follow Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) around for research. Now he follows her and her associates around for an indeterminate amount of time. Castle is more of a traditional procedural show following Beckett and Castle as they interview suspects and solve crimes.
WINNER: Gotta give it to Bones on this one. The whole “writer who’s friends with the mayor” seems like a short lived concept at best, especially if the show keeps going. I’m sure they’ll come up with more and more reasons to keep putting this civilian’s life in danger, but it will always feel a little shallow. (1-0)
BONES: Bones and Booth might have a relationship that mimics a married couple’s, but they haven’t crossed the line into romance (at least up until the end of Season 4). In the end, it seems like they just make damn good partners who balance each other out incredibly well.
CASTLE: Castle and Beckett seem to work well together and Castle, though a playboy, seems to have the hots for Beckett. Meanwhile, Beckett is a closet fan of Castle’s novels. Seems like the odds of them getting together is pretty high.
WINNER: I’m going to call this one a tie. Personally, I prefer the platonic relationship that Booth and Bones have together, but I know a lot of people like the whole “will they, won’t they?” aspect of the relationships and lean more towards Castle and Beckett (like the missus, for one). As it is, both duos work well together and play off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, though I would put my money on Bones and Booth solving a crime before Castle and Beckett (mostly because they’ve got more science on their side). (2-1)
BONES: Special Agent Seeley Booth served his country as a sniper and then became an agent–a special one at that–who went on to work with Temperance Brennan. He’s got a son with a woman who didn’t want to marry him, a brother who’s a screw up and a father who used to wail on him and his brother. He believes in God, the good in people and that there’s more to the world than just science.
CASTLE: Detective Kate Beckett…doesn’t have a lot of back story. We know her mother was murdered but the killer was never caught. Aside from that, she likes Castle’s books and is the inspiration for Castle’s latest heroine Nikki Heat.
WINNER: Booth wins by a mile. I can hear some cries of shenanigans because Bones has been around for more than twice as many seasons as Castle, but I think we got a lot of Booth’s history pretty early in the season and it informed how he acted. Sure a few things popped up later out of nowhere like Booth having a brother, but aside from Beckett being a tough cop and having a dead mom, there’s not a lot of depth to her character, though I will say that Katic does a hell of a job making me care about her even though we don’t know too much about the character. (3-1)
BONES: Bones is the best forensic anthropologist in the field and she just happens to be a writer. She uses science and her experience in solving cases with Booth to inform her books, but then runs the stories by her friend and co-worker Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) who helps add the steamier bits. Focused on logic and science, Bones can come off as cold and aloof.
CASTLE: Like most of Fillion’s other characters, Castle is one hell of a smooth character. He’s learned a lot doing research for other books and uses that knowledge while working on cases. He lives with his mother and daughter, who often say something that offers him a eureka moment that helps him solve the case.
WINNER: While both writers seems to be at the top of their fields, I’ve got to give this one to Castle. Bones’ coldness will definitely put some people off, plus she doesn’t technically do all of her own writing. Fillion’s just so damn charming, even if the whole “eureka moment” thing is getting a little old hat and doesn’t hold a candle to science (though Bones has her own fair share of eureka moments, just not as many). (3-2)
BONES: The co-workers at the Jeffersonian are a pretty diverse lot. Dr. Jack Hodgins (TJ Thyne)) is incredibly wealthy from old money, but loves science and just wants to do his thing, which also involves coming up and telling his co-workers about plenty of conspiracy theories. Tech expert Angela Montenegro is a free spirit who uses her artistic abilities to help recreate facial features from victims. Dr. Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) is more aloof and logical than Bones, which lead to his own share of problems. Dr. Cam Saroyan (Tamara Taylor) has a romantic history with Booth, used to be cop and deals more in flesh than the bones that Bones is an expert in. She adopted her dead former lover’s daughter in season four. Dr. Lance Sweet (John Francis Daley) is a psychologist who talks to everyone on the team and also acts as a profiler. The latter two seasons have also had a rotating group of grad students, each of which offer their own unique character traits.
CASTLE: Beckett works with two other detectives named Javier Esposito (Jon Huertas) and Kevin Ryan (Seamus Dever). They’re good cops and generally good natured dudes. Esposito and Ryan have a pretty bro relationship with each other and joke around with Castle and Beckett. Coroner Lanie Parish (Tamala Jones) offers a more down to earth point of view than Beckett’s tough guy persona and then there’s the boss Captain Roy Montgomery who seems like a pretty good dude himself.
WINNER: Once again, this one goes to Bones. The supporting cast was much better set up early on in Bones, whereas we’re just now getting a little more detail about Esposito and Ryan, though, to be completely honest, I can’t remember exactly which one had the partner who went under cover for the mob. To me there’s a difference between mentioning a character trait or aspect of their history in order to facilitate the story and doing so the explain how they know something about a certain subject. Shows like Bones seem to seed things early on while Castle just has things pop up, though I’m sure both are guilty of both (especially giving Booth a brother that we’d never heard of pretty late in the series). I admit I might be forgetting some stuff because Bones is much fresher in my mind, but I stand by the fact that, overall, the co-workers on Bones are much stronger than on Castle. (4-2)
BONES: Booth has a son Parker (Ty Panitz) and an ex-girlfriend who don’t appear much, but are mentioned a regular basis. Being a good father to Parker is important to Booth because he doesn’t want to repeat the same mistakes his father did, but also because he wants to raise a good man. He’s also got a screw up brother who he always watched out for that pops up from time to time name Jared (Brendan Fehr). Meanwhile, Bones’ dad Max Keenan (Ryan O’Neal) is a former bank robber and murdered the corrupt head of the FBI, went to trial and got off scott free. Now he works for the Jeffersonian. Oh, also, Bones’ mom and dad left her and her older brother Russ (Loren Dean) when they were kids. Later Russ bolted, but now everyone but mom who’s dead, has come back into her life and healing has begun.
CASTLE: As I mentioned, Beckett’s mom was murdered. This has been brought up a few times, but hasn’t been solved yet. Meanwhile, Castle lives with his teenage daughter Alexis (Molly C. Quinn) and his mother, an aging star of stage and screen by the name of Martha Rogers (Susan Sullivan). While the Martha Rogers character seems very been there done that, it’s nice to see Alexis as a level headed kid who seems the exact opposite of the Gossip Girl crowd.
WINNER: Hmm, this is a tough one actually. The kid who plays Parker isn’t the best actor and Jared Booth seemed to come out of nowhere, but Max was a pretty rad character until he seemed to get mostly forgotten in season four. Seeing Bones actually solve her mother’s murder and deal with that at the same time was really interesting. Meanwhile, the mystery of Beckett’s mother’s murder is unsolved and needs exploring ASAP. Letting that storyline dangle doesn’t sound very appealing. Aside from that, Rogers is boring and Alexis is awesome. So, really, it comes down to Alexis vs. Max and…I’m going to give this one to Castle, with hopes that both shows improve on what they have and don’t forget about the cool characters with lots of potential. (4-3)
BONES: Bones definitely follows a basic pattern. There’s a murder. Lately, we’ve seen either the victim or the person finding the body before the credits. Bones and Booth then show up, examine the crime scene and send everything back to the Jeffersonian lab where everyone pitches in, using science to figure out the crime. Meanwhile, Booth and Bones interview suspects sometimes with the help of Sweets. They usually interview the actual killer, but don’t realize that person is the killer until later when science or intuition tells them who did it.
CASTLE: As far as I can recall, Castle doesn’t seem to follow as much of a pattern, though, as I mentioned, Castle tends to spout out some strange piece of information that he learned during previous research and then has a eureka moment.
WINNER: I can only base this on the most recent episode of Castle I saw which was last week’s, but I find I yell at the TV more when watching Castle. With last week’s episode it was because they were clearly missing the fact that the comedian was on track to replace the late night co-host. It was SO obvious and no one noticed it until later. I can’t remember a single episode of Bones when I thought the same thing. So, this one has to go to Bones. (5-3)
Bones clearly takes the cake with this comparison, though I want to make clear that I still enjoy Castle. The cast is great, though I wish the stories were a little more well put together and the characters more fleshed out. I have no idea how the fifth season of Bones has been, though I obviously hope it’s been good. Season 4 was getting a little weird with some heavy handed episodes and Booth’s hallucinations, but at least those had an explanation (his tumor). Fingers crossed that both go onward and upward!