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'Take Two' review: A 'Castle' clone with little substance

Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian star in ABC's

Rachel Bilson and Eddie Cibrian star in ABC's "Take Two." Credit: ABC/David Bukach


WHEN | WHERE Premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC/7

WHAT IT'S ABOUT L.A. private detective Eddie Valetik (Eddie Cibrian, "Third Watch") is asked by a showbiz friend if he'd let a former TV detective, Sam Swift (Rachel Bilson, "The O.C."), follow him around. After a public bender, she had been fired off her hit series, "Hot Justice," and has been out of work ever since. Tailing Eddie could help her prep for her next big role. Eddie and his steady right-hand man, Roberto "Berto" Vasquez (Xavier de Guzman) aren't certain, but soon enough, Sam's pluck and charm begin to work their magic. She may play a detective on TV, but she knows some real tricks, too.

"Take Two's" more-than-passing resemblance to "Castle," by the way, is intentional: It was created by "Castle's" longtime showrunners, Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller.

MY SAY "Take Two" is what's known as an "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" show. It works this way: The minute you start watching, your mind instantly wanders to all the other shows like this — "Bones," obviously "Castle," and so on — which shortly brings you to "Moonlighting." You then start to wonder, "Whatever happened to Cybill Shepherd anyway?" which, naturally, brings you to Wikipedia, where you learn that she starred in a Christian-themed film in 2015 called "Do You Believe?"

This no doubt perfectly pleasant, now-forgotten, low-budget release also starred Mira Sorvino, Ted McGinley and Sean Astin, which, naturally, gets you to thinking about how much you like them too, and fervently hope this meant they weren't having trouble getting work as well.

Then, as your mind turns over these knotty puzzles about the serendipity of Hollywood fates and fortunes, you have a sudden and irrepressible urge for a glass of milk.

Mouse/cookie shows do have their advantages. The lifting is never hard, the memory chains usually pleasant. "Take Two" is essentially both — a show so deeply derivative that it couldn't break a sweat even if it tried. When Cibrian's Valetik smiles that raffish, stud-muffin TV detective grin of his, a million other raffish, stud-muffin detective grins float into view.

When Bilson's Swift says of the bad guy, "He was happy to see me, but that was definitely a gun inside his pocket," you at first grimace in agony but then think of Mae West, who, of course, had the first variation of that joke. (She improvised it during the Broadway run of "Catherine Was Great," in 1944.)

But this mouse/cookie show immediately must bring you back to "Castle." ABC almost instantly regretted its cancellation back in 2016, which was essentially forced upon it after the botched negotiations with stars Stana Katic and Tamala Jones, leading to their exits. Formulas as effortless and as durable as "Castle's" don't come along often. ABC ordered this copycat and so "Take Two" is — literally — take two.

Is this a worthy replacement show? "Castle" fans may decide otherwise. "Take Two" is lighter, frothier and easier. Nathan Fillion and Katic had that indefinable thing called "chemistry." Cibrian and Bilson have that easily definable thing called "pretty." They're otherwise pleasant together, but the fireworks — or is it just fire? — are missing

That's OK. It's summer. At least the weather is hot, even if the network summer filler is not. Get that cold glass of milk ready.

BOTTOM LINE Light as air, not much more substance, "Take Two" is a genial "Castle" redo.


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