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Dr. Lahiri is no catch out of central casting.
Source

What does the highlighted part mean? I can't seem to find it in my dictionary.

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    This is the same no famously used in this quote: "I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no [ Jack Kennedy ]." It doesn't necessarily imply an unfavorable comparison, though: "I'm no [ newbie ]! Don't treat me like one." – snailcar Nov 23 '13 at 21:33
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Central Casting is not a source of "great" actors, or indeed of actors of any sort: it is a source of anonymous extras classified into established types. The performers within any particular classification are interchangeable; their function is not to create a character but to be recognizable on sight, without any lines. They’re essentially not people but props.

The sentence “Dr. Lahiri is no catch out of central casting” thus does not imply that the actor playing Dr. Lahiri is in any way inadequate to the part. Quite the contrary: it means that she does not conform to the stereotype of what constitutes a “catch”, and that she (and the writers) are free to develop her character in unexpected directions.

From the source: "She is defiantly idiosyncratic, a new type of character for TV".

  • So it can be paraphrased as "She is not an actor from central casting who has to conform to conventions"? So this "no" is "HE is no father?" – user2492 Nov 24 '13 at 12:38
  • @kih1930 Right on both counts, except actors don't come from Central Casting. Actors [are supposed to] have actual skills; types from CC just have a look. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 24 '13 at 12:42
  • StoneyB nailed it. "catch out of central casting" is essentially canned phrase here which means something like "person pulled from a pool of extras due to appearance, rather than acting ability". Someone who has acting kung-fu is not this, and hence "no catch out of central casting". – Kaz Nov 29 '13 at 23:33
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He's no catch, in that of all the fish in the sea, Casting could have reeled in a better one.

It's simply an idiom, meaning not the best possible choice.

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When used generically (as in the quote) central casting refers to a source of just the right person for some role or other. No catch is slang or idiom for “not highly desirable”. The quote as a whole indicates that Dr. Lahiri is not a wonderful and great-looking person.

Edit: Regarding catch, see sense 5 in wiktionary:

A find, in particular a boyfriend or girlfriend or prospective spouse. [eg]
Did you see his latest catch?
He's a good catch.

Applying that sense, no catch means “not good material for a boyfriend or girlfriend”, which I vaguely alluded to earlier via “not a wonderful and great-looking person”.

  • So it means "she is way outside the source of great actors."? "no catch" is an emphasis? Like "really, completely"? – user2492 Nov 24 '13 at 1:16
  • @kih1930, see edit – James Waldby - jwpat7 Nov 24 '13 at 1:26
  • Thank you. here "out of central casting." implies, "She was not the best choice "of" all the possible choices that this "pool of actors" could have offered? – user2492 Nov 24 '13 at 1:51
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To understand the phrase, break it up into two parts" Dr. Lahari is no catch; out of central casting.

"Central casting" refers to a group of "random" actors/actresses, not a "star" player.

But even out of this (random) "central casting" group, Dr. Lahari is "no catch." That means "not a particularly good catch."

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I accept (because I don't know otherwise) that central casting is merely a source of nondescript extras. But then the phrase "he is a catch out of central casting" would mean that the person concerned turned out to be much better than expected and therefore considered to be a 'proper' actor of some merit.

In a different context, one might hear the phrase "he is a real catch" in the context of people announcing that they are to be married. This means that the bride-to-be has done well and scooped up a good one. The simile is from fishing; the one caught is better than the rest of the fish in the sea.

Therefore the OP's phrase "Dr. Lahiri is no catch out of central casting" means to me that there was no element of any exceptional talent and that s/he was indeed, and disappointly, a run-of-the-mill extra.

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