Exactly two years ago, on May 16, 2016, the ABC crime-comedy-drama Castle, aired its final episode. I was addicted – in a good way. The show starred Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a best-selling mystery novelist who isn’t satisfied with the fictional side of his life. He worms his way into the the NYPD homicide team headed up by Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), and the duo solve crimes together. (And later get married after several seasons of flirting.) The remainder of the cast was inspirational: the marvelous Susan Sullivan as Castle’s actress mother, Martha; the adorable Molly Quinn as Castle’s daughter, Alexis; and Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever as the two detectives making up Kate’s squad. The uncredited star of the series was New York City itself. (Even though most of the episodes were filmed in – horror! – California.) Castle can still be seen in reruns on other channels, but that’s not the same as being able to view fresh episodes.
So you can imagine how excited I was upon hearing that ABC added to its prime time lineup Deception, which follows the Castle outline but stands on its own as one of the best shows now on TV. Rather than an author, Deception’s central character, Cameron Black, is a magician whose tricks defy explanation. The pilot episode opens with Cameron in Las Vegas attempting a Houdini-like escape which finds him, not only disappearing from Sin City, but appearing on stage in New York’s Times Square. The crowd, needless to say, goes wild.
Ilfenesh Hadera and Jack Cutmore-Scott
We soon learn that while Cameron is indeed a very talented magician, he has a secret – a twin brother, Jonathan, who was actually the Black who turned up in New York. The elation, however, is short lived. Jonathan meets and parties with an intriguing young woman. Yet when Jonathan’s car is involved in a crash and a woman found dead, he’s charged with her death and winds up in prison. Jonathan tells Cameron that the woman he was with had one blue eye, one brown eye, while the woman who died did not. The brothers know they have been set up, but by who and why? Cameron approaches FBI agent Kay Daniels, played by Ilfenesh Hadera, and offers his help to solve crimes. In return, he asks for her help in proving his brother’s innocence.
Kay is initially skeptical, as was Kate when Castle turned up in her precinct. Cameron, however, quickly shows how his knowledge of magic and slight of hand is perfectly suited to crime solving. It also doesn’t hurt that people – friends and enemies alike – love magic and often fall victim to Cameron’s flair for the dramatic providing much needed distractions.
Jack Cutmore-Scott takes on a huge challenge playing the twin brothers and manages to make Cameron and Jonathan distinct characters. It’s more than just the way the brothers wear their hair. Cameron is the sunnier, Jonathan, darker. Physical gestures, body language, and facial expressions serve to separate the two. We never doubt which twin we’re seeing on screen. The twins are scarred, and yet made stronger, by their very unconventional upbringing with a single father who taught them magic and how to defend themselves physically (something that comes in handy for Jonathan in the dangerous prison environment), while dragging them around the country to appear in magic shows. (Flashbacks help to fill in some of the past history.) The British Cutmore-Scott has appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, and Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. Deception will go far raising his profile with audiences in the U.S. Besides his acting talents, it doesn’t hurt that he’s very, very good-looking with killer dimples.
Stephanie Corneliussen and Jack Cutmore-Scott
Hadera’s Kay is the perfect partner for Cameron. And while Cameron is the magician, she has a few tricks up her sleeve, which turn up at opportune times. Hadera is effective in the role, showing toughness when she needs to be the FBI agent, and a fan when she is truly in awe of Cameron’s skills. The two make an attractive pair. Is a Castle-Kate-like romance in the offing?
The supporting cast includes Kay’s fellow FBI agent, Mike Alvarez (Amaury Nolasco) and Cameron’s magic team: Justin Chon, as tech specialist Jordan Kwon; Vinnie Jones as protector, Galavant; and Lenora Crichlow, as assistant Dina Clark. The eterochromia iridium villain is played by Stephanie Corneliussen, who manages to be both glamorous and creepy.
Deception hits all the right buttons. The plots will appeal to those who enjoy a good crime drama, magic, sumptuous sets, New York scenery, and, of course, romance. (One has already blossomed between a member of Kay’s team and someone from Cameron’s.) Kudos to the creators who have managed to satisfy all those Castle fans while producing something just as appealing but totally different. That’s magic.
Deception can be seen at 10 pm. Sunday on ABC or On Demand.
Photos courtesy of ABC/Giovanni Rufino