The Pervasive Presence of Richard Castle

I've been a fan of the show Castle since near the end of the first season, when I started watching. Mostly because it's Nathan Fillion and the role is perfect for him -- plus, he plays a writer, and that's pretty cool. It's a fun show, all told.

So I was certainly interested when they took it transmedia.

Beyond the television show (clearly the driving platform) there are a few transmedia extensions. The biggest one is that the fictional Richard Castle (Fillion's character) has now published three real mystery novels as tie-ins to the events in the show. The novels are those talked about on the show, and the real writer behind them remains (or remained) itself a closely-gaurded mystery. The novels bring the character into the real world in a way fans can genuinely engage with. It also, of course, provides another revenue stream for the property.

Beyond the books, Richard Castle also has a web presence. His Twitter account, @WriteRCastle, occasionally tweets in-character. He has a website and blog in the model of a real author's page. He even has an author profile on his publisher's website (and on Goodreads), with Nathan Fillion providing the portrait.

I'm writing of all this now because of the most recent real-world digital extension: Richard Castle wrote a guest blog post for the Barnes & Noble website.

Readers of my articles probably don't need telling that it's extensions like these that can really help cement the character in the lives of the fans. We're not only perfectly happy to suspend our disbelief of the character's fictional nature, but really quite titillated by how cool is it. "I love this crossover stuff," as my mom said when she sent me the link to the guest blog post. It's just neat.

One of the standards of these kinds of transmedia extensions is that they should add to the experience -- they can be ingested on their own, but paired with the rest of the property, create an enhanced picture. This blog post certainly succeeds at that, I think. People who aren't fans of Castle can still "get" the post; people who are get a cool little insight into Castle's public thoughts on the matter.

In fact, this blog post takes it a step further -- one way one might reward the diehard fans of a property is to include references and little in-jokes in a piece that you only get if you've immersed yourself in multiple outlets. And this post delivers -- but not on the Castle brand. Rather, it delivers on the Nathan Fillion brand.

"I like my characters like I like my bean dip. Layered."

Nathan Fillion's Seven-Layer Bean Dip of the Gods is a recurring joke around the actor -- he sang about it in Commentary! The Musical, the commentary track on Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog; fellow Firefly star Alan Tudyk pulled a prank with him at a Kids Need to Read fundraiser revolving around the bean dip; and Fillion finally tweeted the recipe himself.

I like what they're doing with Castle. It takes principles of transmedia storytelling and makes them easily accessible to a mass audience. But now that they've done that, I'd like to see them take it further. What about tweets during and about a particular episode? What about plotlines that take place solely via his online presence rather than the TV show? There are some great possibilities here, and they're only scratching the surface.