“That ‘70s Show” – When construction workers find the body of an infamous New York mobster who disappeared in the seventies, Beckett and Castle try to solve this three decade-old Mafia hit. Unfortunately, their only witness is a man who thinks it’s still the 1970’s, so to uncover what he knows, they must play into his delusion, and party like it’s the last days of disco.
First, a few thoughts | If you enjoy the campy humor, the far out costuming and the groovy music, then “That ‘70s Show” was definitely an episode you could get into. But if this type of fare wasn’t your sort of thing then you definitely didn’t dig this week’s episode. My problem with this episode goes from the over-the-top nature of the storyline to the seemingly forgettable Martha who knows Beckett wouldn’t go for the flower arrangement she had picked out for the soon-to-be-married couple. Moreover, this episode seems almost like a feeble attempt to get the cast regulars into their contracted allotted episodes rather than making them appear useful. Yep. I’m talking about Penny Johnson Jerald, Molly Quinn, Susan Sullivan and Maya Stojan’s random appearances in this episode. What were their purposes again?
The case | Construction workers tearing down a building find Jimmy Hoffa—I mean Vince Bianchi encased in a bunch of cement. Turns out he was a bigtime mob boss who went missing in 1978, and the only witness is his best bud, Harold (played by Joe Polito). The problem, however, Harold still thinks it’s 1978 and in order to play into his delusions, Castle thinks it’s a great idea to play into the man’s time warp. The case has a few twists and turns along the way. It was a nice touch to see that Vince was not going to go through his plans to secure the future of his crime family but rather spend out his days with Harold. Turns out, Harold and Vince were lovers. Yep. Gay mobsters. Vince was killed by the spurned would-be bride, the later wife of his rival, Frank Russo.
Forget the flowers, just go get married already | Once again, the writers decide to go from the crime scene to the loft with yet more wedding talk. Castle, who after being married twice before should know better, decides Martha should be in charge of flowers. Not the greatest of ideas. But her grand production there sets up her grand production later on when she makes over the 12th Precinct to play into Harold’s delusional state. At this point, anyone would be a fool to think that we’re going to get any sort of set-up that resembles a wedding. (Unless this is part of some sick joke played by the writers to make us think we’re not going to get a grand wedding because of all these little moments and give it to us in the end. Either way, I’m not impressed.)
No time for sergeants at the 12th | Apparently budget cuts have cut into ranking officers because there are no sergeants or lieutenants at the 12th Precinct, leaving Beckett in charge while Gates is away. (Points for correct use of irony, by the way.) I suppose I can swallow this one but I think it was just way for them make the storyline work. This whole thing didn’t work for me, especially in subsequent screenings. This may seem like nitpicking but honestly? Give Beckett a sergeant’s badge. No one will care how or why it happened.
Some fun moments but mostly flat | I liked it when Castle tried to convince Beckett to turn back the clock at the 12th precinct. I liked it went Esposito fell off the car when sliding on it. But I liked the whole gay mobsters angle. It was a different take on the spurned lover story. Overall, the story felt flat and I was bored 90% of the time. Maybe it’s because I remember the 70s or maybe I just don’t like this type of low-brow humor. Gone are the days when the show attempted humor with respect and not cliched lines. I get it’s the ‘70s. I grew up in the ‘70s. Aaron Spelling and Jack Webb entered my house on a weekly basis. But I just didn’t dig this episode, ya dig?
A few final thoughts | My problem with this episode was the writing and the set-up. I’ve never been a big fan of the over-the-top gimmicky Castle episodes and this time is no different. Given how last season turned out with the one-off episodes leading up into the finale, I can see the same situation playing out here once again. And this is the problem with the show in general, it lacks symmetry in storytelling. Instead of setting things up in the first part of the season and touching upon them throughout the season, the show’s writers tend to show all their cards at once and hope the audience plays along. The sad thing is, most viewers are willing to ignore this shoddy storytelling and nonsensical story arcs for benefit of not sounding grateful.