Last night after I finally finished stuffing numbers and equations and currency abbreviations into my cranium for my upcoming international finance exam, I turned to good ol’ Hulu to catch up on Monday night’s episode of Castle.
Apparently I missed the fan fluttering (in my defense, I’ve been super busy), because I actually screamed out loud when Gina Torres (currently on USA’s Suits) showed up in the episode. For anyone not in the know, Castle star Nathan Fillion and Gina Torres co-starred in the cult favorite Firefly, unjustly cancelled eleven episodes in. For obvious, Joss Whedon-related reasons, fan love and devotion has never wavered.
Nathan and Gina’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis) reunion was exciting, but not really anything to write home about. Gina Torres played a manipulative and self-absorbed reality housewife a la New Jersey, but she and Rick Castle barely shared any screen time. There weren’t any inside fan jokes or shout-outs, no Serenity references or Captain Mal quotes.
Reunions for past co-stars are fairly standard in the TV world. I’m pretty sure almost every former Friend has guest-starred on each’s new successes – Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow on Courtney Cox’s Cougar Town, Courtney Cox on Matthew Perry’s Go On, Matt LeBlanc’s Episodes even made a meta-joke about not being able to secure a former Friend for sweeps, and the show within a show had to “settle” for James Michael Tyler’s Gunther.
It’s fun for diehard fans, it’s a great promotional hook for the networks, and I imagine it’s a good time on set for everyone. But that’s only if it’s done right. Waste a golden opportunity like Castle did, and then it’s just another episode on just another Monday night with just another dead victim. I know the “Castle” writers know how to do it; the entirety of the sixth episode of season five was a Firefly spoof. The betrayal was sudden, but I suppose you could call it… inevitable.
As a TV addict, I much prefer this type of stunt-casting to the standard A or B list celebrity guest of the week that Glee and Law and Order are famous for. Yeah, it’s nice to see Matt Bomer outside of the wily Neal Caffrey, but I’d be lying if I said his role as Blaine’s older brother added to my respect for him or his career. And I still fast-forward through Spencer and Heidi’s guest spot on How I Met Your Mother.
I’d much rather see old friends back together again, cracking inside jokes that make fans squeal with glee. But it can’t just be a coincidental meeting, it has to be a deliberate event. It has to be referenced and alluded to and insinuated. It has to be Brad Pitt guesting on Friends, where his character hated Aniston’s Rachel Greene in high school and possibly even more now. (This was obviously only funny pre-divorce, now it’s just a little heart-breaking.) It has to be Sara Gilbert on The Big Bang Theory, it has to be Scott Baio on Arrested Development, it has to be Will Forte and Jason Sudekis and Rachel Dratch and Chris Parnell on 30 Rock.
Because really, if you’re going to bring Zoe and Captain Mal back together again, shouldn’t it be fun?