I don’t really need new television addictions

I have two new television addictions these days, both surprising in their own way: ABC’s Castle and SciFi’s (or is it SyFy?) WCG Ultimate Gamer. Two shows with absolutely nothing in common. Or not.

Let me explain what I mean by surprising.

With Castle, it was pretty much a given that I’d like it unless the show totally sucked. I mean, c’mon — a detective show featuring a writer playing sleuth right alongside a NYC detective, with Nathan Fillion as the writer. Totally my cuppa tea. What’s surprising is how excellent the show is. Smart writing, smart stories, smart acting, and a whole heaping helping of chemistry between the lead characters. Castle is egotistical and a pain, but he’s got the kind of depth and charm that keeps people from punching his lights out. Beckett is smart and tough without tipping the scale over into cast iron bitch, which isn’t easy to do. The supporting cast are excellent, right down to the daughter who’s really raising her father while he does his best at being a parent. Plus, there’s that one scene where Castle dozed off with his laptop balanced on his legs (not that I’ve ever done that, not me). What’s not to love?

Plus, I want his screen saver.

On the other end of the spectrum, the surprise with Ultimate Gamer is that I like the show at all.

I hate reality shows. I don’t watch American Idol. I don’t care about Dancing With the Stars, America’s Next Top Model, Biggest Loser, Top Chef, Amazing Race, or any of a zillion other “reality” shows. Yet, I’m right there every week watching a group of twenty-something video gamers compete against each other while existing in each other’s back pockets, ala Big Brother.

Initially I just watched for the game competition. The contestants not only have to compete on video games, they have to compete in real world versions of the game of the week. That meant gamers who rocked out to Guitar Hero had to form a band, playing real instruments (with chords!), and singing (on key!) for judges who were professional musicians. They did hook-slides around a barrel course in souped up race cars the week they played Gotham Racing. (One of the players had never driven before; that was fun.) This week they faced off in paint ball before they competed on Halo 3.

The Big Brother aspect of the show — the in-fighting, the who said what about whom, the whiners and the egotists — annoyed me. At first. *sigh*

I think that’s how reality shows lure in viewers. It’s not just the competition, it’s the people in the game. Just like the characters in Castle, I’ve invited the gamers into my house on a weekly basis. I’ve gotten to know them, and you know what? I really like some of them. I find myself rooting for my favorites, speculating about how they’ll do next week. I’m looking forward to each week’s show just like the next installment of a continuing storyline.

It’s not the plot, it’s the story. It’s the characters. Both SciFi and Castle have me hooked. Good job.

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