The question is, to which of the shows did Brolin bring better daddy issues?
Brolin on “Castle”
The James Brolin papa-train rolled into “Castle” first. In a two-part episode in which Castle’s daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn), was kidnapped and spirited off to Paris, Brolin appeared as the mysterious and deadly Jackson Hunt. It was quickly revealed that Hunt was in fact Castle’s (Nathan Fillion) previously unknown father. Also, he was a gun-toting intelligence asset.
We only got to see this version of Brolin for a short time — a siege on the bad guy’s mansion left Hunt’s fate ambiguous — but there was a little time for father-son bonding. As it turned out, Hunt was the one who gave a young Castle the book that inspired a writing career.
Brolin on “Community”
Although a comedy, “Community” used Brolin to bring similarly serious (albeit less deadly) parental problems. Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) hadn’t seen his no-good father in years before their Thanksgiving reunion. And that reunion was unsurprisingly awkward as a result.
We did find out a few positives — William Winger, a demonstrably terrible parent, likes scotch and rule-breaking as much as Jeff. But that was about it. In the end, this guy really was something of a deadbeat dad, someone without whom Jeff had become a better person.
“Castle” vs. “Community”
Where did Brolin work better?
Without a doubt, “Castle” wins this one. A guy who can kill your enemies and rescue your daughter always beats the guy who just wants to drink a scotch with you.
“Community” takes this. Deadbeat dads are a little more common than top-secret intelligence assets who would be right at home in a Jason Bourne movie.
This goes to “Castle” again. After all, a desperate desire to keep a mother and child safe from international villains is a decent motive to disappear. Being a responsibility-shirking loser like William Winger? Not so much.
An appropriate father
We’ll call this one a draw. Brolin’s character on “Castle” was a wise-cracking fellow hiding a darker and more serious person within. The Richard Castle we’ve seen matches that well.
Similarly, Brolin’s “Community” persona was something of a self-centered jerk. Although we’ve seen Jeff evolve somewhat over four seasons, these negative qualities are exactly where the former lawyer began.
So who wins?
By a narrow margin — and mostly because it’s a better, more interesting story — Brolin on “Castle” beats out Brolin on “Community.” Both were good performances and examples of highly entertaining casting though.
And now we all just need to figure out how Richard Castle and Jeff Winger could be half-brothers…