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Take Two - Pilot - Review: It Doesn't Suck

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From the opening scene, to the end, Take Two is an entertaining odd-couple procedural that will not only give you Castle vibes, but pokes some fun at that show too. This might be “too soon” for some Castle fans, but for those willing to chuckle at the digs, this show recaptures the Castle fun, switches the roles, and keeps it all just a little lighter. The references are scattered throughout, and there are call-backs to the pilot of that show too. It’s all very intentional, but for some it may feel like MilMar are a one-trick pony.

Our heroine, Sam Swift, with Beckett hair and heels to match, was once the star of a popular cop show. Now, with her show cancelled, she’s just getting out of rehab. Back out in the world again, no one will hire her. There’s one possible job, however. In a role as a PI. Sam knows how to play cop, but a PI is new territory and she wants to get it right.
PI Eddie Valetik just happens to owe Sam’s publicist, Sydney, a favor, and she’s calling it in. Thus Sam and Eddie are teamed up. Where Valetik has PI experience, Swift comes in with people skills gained from years of acting, and right from the start they complement one another. This new partnership isn’t without its conflicts though.
Sam is the worst invisible ghost fly ever, channeling her past detective roles and diving straight into questioning a father who thinks his daughter has been murdered. As Sam takes lead, Eddie steels himself as best he can, despite his growing frustrations.
Miller and Marlowe (MilMar) write unconventional duos beautifully, and these two are shaping up to be no different.

SAM: “The more real I can be, the more the audience understands and relates to my character. It’s all about finding authenticity.”
EDDIE: “None of the cops I know where designer clothes and five-inch heels.”

Yes, can she not? Because I’m still coveting Beckett’s Burberry shirt from the season 3 Castle premiere, just by the way.

Sam encounters her real first dead body at a crime scene and we meet Christine Rollins, a tough, no-nonsense detective who has little time for Sam, and Mick English, a quirky, fanboy of an ME who adores Sam. The contrast is fun and it will be interesting to see if Rollins warms to Sam – or if jealousy flares up there.
And Sam notices, asking Eddie if Chris is his girlfriend.
“You two got a thing going on?”
Knowing how well MilMar can write duos, it’s smart to have an established relationship as an excuse to keep the two leads apart for a while. Bilson and Cibrian have chemistry, and with the contrast of personalities here, the possibilities for clashes that lead to respect, the writers are going to need excuses to not hook these two up too soon.
Assuming this isn’t a one (season) and done kind of show.

Sam might be good at reading people but she fails at the art of subtlety. Notably during a scene at the pier.
And while she’s smart as a whip there’s a naivety to her, something we see as the realities of real police work (eg: dead bodies) start to seep into her research.

There are hints that Sam’s perhaps growing weary of the actress life, that she was perhaps even numbed by it. It’s noticeable in the behavior that gets her sent to rehab, but also in a telling scene in a bar when she tells Syd, “For the first time in a long, long time, I felt something real. You know, like I was actually helping someone. Like what I was doing mattered. And I was good at it.”
Sam might just need this gig more than she realizes.

The case is fairly typical, although there’s enough of a twist to keep you interested, but that isn’t the aspect of this show that will keep you coming back. The relationships are going to be the draw here, that and the quirky humor MilMar infuse into a story. For those expecting another Beckett, Sam may be difficult to warm to but give her a chance. She’s smart, and savvy, and adorable. And I’m calling it now that underneath that roguish exterior, Valetik actually has a heart of gold.

Sam dressing up and playing other roles to help investigate is a nice addition to the show and one that will hopefully continue throughout the season. Eddie’s already gaining respect for her, but this adds a little humor to it. It’s clear Sam is smart, she thinks on her feet and draws from her years on a cop show, but the aesthetics of Sam dressing up, playing the role of – in this episode’s case – an older woman is just plain fun.
There are enough serious procedurals out there. Sometimes all we need is something lighter, something quirkier, something like Take Two.

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