MONDAY MUSINGS: Could it have worked?
I had written the bulk of this before the news of cancellation broke. Then to fulfill a religious obligation, I embarked on a five day silent retreat just getting back today. Sadly, I thought there would be internet service but I was wrong!
While pondering a possible season nine of Castle, I tried to find a comparable example of a show that killed off a lead character and continued. After eight years, Norman Lear and CBS decided that All In The Family had pretty much run its course, especially with the main set being the Bunker’s living room.
Now to be fair, All in the Family spawned several spinoff sitcoms, like Maude and the Jefferson’s. Additionally, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers were ready to move on to other projects, not being featured as prominently as earlier seasons.
Creative decided that it was time for Archie to retire and lo and behold, Kelsey’s bar, Bunker’s favorite watering hole, became available. Archie cashed in his retirement and bought half the bar. As their first season progressed, Kelsey sold out to Martin Balsam who assumed the Michael Stivic role of bleeding heart liberal foil.
With new main characters, Jean Stapleton’s role shriveled and faded away to the point she quit the show and the show runners killed her off via a stroke. It provided quite a bit of material for their season two but once they had Archie dating someone new, the show started to tank in the ratings.
All in all, the show lasted four seasons, probably two season’s too long. Their demise began once the audience saw Archie moving on from Edith. They had a real love story through all of his warts and were not ready to accept a new love in the Bunker household.
So, my guess is that it would be fun for a few episodes, seeing Castle, Espo and Ryan going to war together. The specter of Beckett would loom large, however, and how that was addressed would make or break the (now cancelled) season 9. If she was killed off and Castle moved on, the show would be dead in the water. So, ABC was wise to cancel. How they ended the series is a totally different issue. Maybe for next week’s rant.
Safe to say, in all my research, only one show had even modest success after eliminating the female co-star. We never had to watch Starsky without Hutch, McMillan without Wife nor Maxwell Smart without Agent 99! Thankfully, we don’t have to watch Richard Castle without Kate Beckett.