Castle playfully asks the question: What would have happened if the recent late-night wars resulted in murder?
Castle renewed for third season
When Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) appears to promote his latest novel on a talk show hosted by Bobby Mann (guest star Tom Bergeron), Mann tells Castle that somebody wants him put him off the air permanently.
"He turns to him as they're signing off and asks for his help because he feels like he's been marked for death," Bergeron tells TVGuide.com. "And clearly he's right."
Bergeron, who already pulls double duty hosting ABC's Dancing with the Stars and America's Funniest Home Videos, jokes that ABC is becoming the "All Bergeron Channel." But he did enjoy acting — even as a corpse.
Will Castle's explosive cliff-hanger create sparks for Castle and Beckett?
"They do what they call a digital 'dead pass' on the film anyway, to get rid of anything like a vein that's pulsing in your neck or an eyelid twitch," Bergeron says. "They digitally kill you. So, all of my attempts at acting dead were assisted by computers."
The episode provides plenty of murder suspects. Bill Bellamy plays the host of the show that follows Mann's (and who's eager to take Mann's time slot); Dan Cortese is the network executive who tells Bobby he needs to make some changes to his format; and Fred Willard portrays Mann's sidekick of 35 years — who perhaps is tired of laughing at Mann's lame jokes.
Willard, who played sidekick to Martin Mull's character in the '70s talk-show send-up Fernwood 2-Night, says he looked to Ed McMahon when getting into the role.
Check out photos of the Castle cast
"He was the ultimate talk-show sidekick," Willard says. "My character is like that: the jolly good friend. And Bobby's death really did hurt him."
Willard says the biggest challenge for him was playing the interrogation scenes with Castle and Beckett (Stana Katic). "You see hundreds of these shows where someone is being grilled by these detectives. It's like a parlor game," he says. "And I've never played anything like that on TV, so it was kind of a challenge. The question was: How do I answer these without appearing too innocent or too guilty?"
Castle airs Monday at 10/9c on ABC.