I can’t help it. Whenever I see David Boreanaz I can’t stop seeing the brooding vampire Angel. It’s not really his fault. This character couldn’t be farther from the Angel character, but that’s what I see. It’s also true that Bones, now entering its sixth season has been around longer than Angel. It’s also very likely that he now has fans that aren’t even aware of that previous character. It has been quite a few years. I’m usually better at letting go of a character once the show has ended and the actor has moved on. But there it is. Agent Booth ends up doing something silly, and it throws me for a bit of a loop. It’s probably a testament to how good of an actor Boreanaz actually is, that he’s ingrained himself so fully in my brain. And, I haven’t watched near as many episodes of Bones, to transfer that identification. But it’s Bones that’s here now, and based on its current popularity, it’s likely to be here for a while longer yet.
Dr. Temperance Brennan, or Bones (Deschanel) is the world’s leading bone specialist. She works in Washington, D.C. for the famous Jeffersonian (I assume it’s intended to be the Smithsonian). Her talents have proven themselves very helpful in solving crimes where skeletal remains are all that there is to go on from the victim. Her FBI agent/liaison is Seeley Booth (Boreanaz). Together they have an uneasy relationship that grows into a kind of friendship. The problem is that Bones doesn’t have a ton of social skills. She relies on Booth to guide their social interactions. More on that later. The lab is run by Dr. Camille Saroyan (Taylor) who has become a bit of a guiding mother to the team. Dr. Hodges (Thyne) is the trace-elements expert and tries very hard to be cool and hip. He’s generally the opposite of Bones. He says pretty much what comes into his head and is a bit of a science-fiction geek. Angela (Conlin) is an artist who uses her skills to reconstruct facial details from the skulls. She also works on enhancing images and restructuring evidence. She’s a bit of a romantic and has probably slept with every male in the lab. Dr. Sweets (Daley) is a young FBI agent and psychologist. He profiles victims and suspects as well as serves as a counselor to the team. He’s a bit over-eager at times, looking up to Booth as a mentor, of sorts. The lab also has a few interns that show up from week to week, likely depending on actor availability.
The writers and filmmakers take pride in offering the most bizarre of crimes and victims. You can expect a gross body in each episode. Bodies come out of industrial dryers, concrete pits, aquarium attractions, and even from the homes of practicing witches. Some of the bodies exhibit strange characteristics. There’s a body that looks like an alien and brings out the Roswell conspiracy guys. That episode includes a guest appearance by Lone Gunmen Dean Haglund from The X-Files. There’s a body found burning on a church altar that has horns and a tail. Mysterious government agents seal the lab and bring in remains that match suspiciously the facts of the JFK assassination.
There is also a good share of interesting cases. Robert Englund stars as a suspect who might remove the victim’s ribs for a BBQ. There’s a flashback episode where we learn how Booth and Bones first met. It was nice to see Eric Millegan return as Zack for that episode. There is one episode that is a shameless hour-long plug for the film Avatar, also a FOX property. There’s absolutely no shortage of interesting stories here.
The problems I have with the show deal mostly with character development. None of these characters have grown much in five years. I jumped from season 1 to season 5, and with the exception of some changes in cast, it was like I never left. The characters spend way too much time talking about their sexual prowess, with more than one character making multiple references to how exceptional they are in bed. The relationships too often take as much time as the cases themselves. This shorts the plot development and often leads the show toward the obvious. And the worst problem is the Bones character herself. She’s not likable at all. She’s arrogant to a fault. She always talks about being the best and how she’s the natural hero role model for others. But her scientific brain is to the point of cruelty. She has to have non-emotional explanations for everything. She insults with impunity. They also stretch the idea that this highly educated woman doesn’t know any slang or figures of speech. She’s always misquoting a popular saying as if she were just learning English. It’s too contrived, and the writers reach pretty far for each of those “jokes”. There’s the expected sexual tension between the leads, which would be fine if someone weren’t talking about it all of the time. Sexual tension between characters works best when it is not constantly being noted. We’re smart enough to figure it out. And that’s really the fatal flaw in Bones. They feel the need to hit you over the head with everything from sexual relations to the bodies themselves. If you enjoy a little subtlety in your mystery, Bones won’t provide much of that at all.
Each episode presented in its original broadcast 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While there is at times a bit of grain, the presentation is mostly pretty solid. There are some sweet detailed crime scenes that appear to shine in color and depth. There are a lot of earth tones here, so don’t look for a particularly bright mood in the presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 offers a few nice ambient moments, but mostly you’re getting dialog here. It’s all fine and well placed; just don’t look for too much ear candy.
There are a couple of cast and crew Audio Commentary tracks on select episodes.
Gag Reel: (4:26)
Deleted Scenes On Select Episodes
The Bodies Of Bones: (10:50) Go behind the scenes and see how they make those gruesome remains.
The Nunchuck Way: (2:43) An amusing look at a nunchuck scene from an episode.
I liked this show a lot more in its earlier stages. A lot of the awkward dialog and characterizations made more sense then. I just have a hard time buying this character after these last five years of experiences. It certainly doesn’t fit with someone as smart as she is intended to be. I could also do with less conversation about their sex lives. It takes away real time from the stories. And that’s the show’s strength. The stories are the real talent here. But they are always overtaken by the fluff. Someone is coming up with good ideas, but they appear to get mangled by the time we see them. “What’s with you guys, anyway?”