Dr. Temperance Brennan: What, exactly, am I supposed to be *squinting* at?
Special Agent Seeley Booth: It’s like pornography – you’ll know when you see it.
Do you like smart TV? Do you like sexy actors? Do you enjoy witty dialogue? Mystery? Danger? Comedy?
If the answer to the above questions is “Yes!”, then you will love the Fox Network TV show “Bones”. Starring Emily Deschanel as a forensic anthropologist and David Boreanaz as an FBI agent, Bones is a fantastic character drama with crime procedural mixed in. The show is based on the life of real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, a first in TV dramedies. Click below for a spoilery recap and review of the first episode.
Having just returned from Guatemala where she was identifying remains of genocide victims, Dr Temperance Brennan, PhD, a forensic anthropologist working out of the Jeffersonian Institute’s Medico-Legal lab is “loaned out” to the FBI. Convincing Special Agent Seeley Booth (major crimes division) to allow her to go out into the field with him, she and her team of “squints” identify the remains of a murder victim to be Cleo Eller, the missing intern to a Senator.
The plot thickens as the team discovers that Cleo was pregnant at the time of death, dating the Senator’s aide, and sleeping with the Senator himself – though of course, that could never be proven, as per Booth, who was originally in charge of the case. While he debates with himself over whether or not the team is correct in their conjectures that the Senator is the most likely killer, Dr Brennan threatens to expose the Senator as the father of Cleo’s baby, using his own chewing gum as evidence.
Eventually, she, and a video of Cleo Eller from when she was alive and happy, convinces Booth to file for a warrant to search the Senator’s home for three things: the murder weapon (a sledgehammer), trace evidence (Cleo’s blood), and the crime scene (concrete flooring mixed with diatamaceous earth).
At the Senator’s home, they find only one of the three. Brennan, unable to understand how she could be wrong, returns to the lab to talk things over with her team. While doing so, a chance comment leads her to immediately put the pieces together and realize that the true murderer is the Senator’s aide, Johnson.
Going to the aide’s house, she arrives in time to find him pouring gasoline over the floor of a room in his house, wherein we are told that he has installed new linoleum to cover up both a concrete floor mixed with diatamaceous earth, and Cleo’s blood. She brandishes a gun at him just as he is threatening to light the room – and her – on fire. So she fires instead, hitting his leg. As he bleeds on the floor, she demands to know his motive, and he tells her it was just to save his job. As he reveals this, Booth arrives to prevent any more injuries and secure the scene.
In the final scene, we see all the main characters together: Brennan, Booth, Dr. Daniel Goodman (an archaeologist and the head of the Jeffersonian), Zack Addy (Brennan’s assistant), Dr. Jack Hodgins (the “bug and slime” guy; an entomologist), and Angela Montenegro (Brennan’s best friend and the resident artist/forensic reconstructionist). They are at Cleo’s funeral. Brennan lays a rose on the coffin, then wanders off, followed by Booth, and the two share a small heart to heart in the final seconds.
Within five minutes of the show beginning, you can see that “Bones”, set in Washington DC, is certainly not a redux of CSI or Law & Order.
The first hint: Angela flashing the airport worker. The second? Brennan’s martial arts expertise . . . and the fact that she writes crime novels. Obviously, this show will be a little unorthodox, but the humor m ore than makes up for it.
The primary focus of the show is how Brennan relates to the people around her. This is shown mainly through dialogue: she argues (often) with Booth, has heart – to – heart conversations with Angela, and lectures her assistant Zack about professionalism in the Lab. Despite the main focus on Brennan, you get a sense of each character’s quirks. Zack isn’t very socially apt; Hodgins is a conspiracy theorist, Dr. Goodman is rather pretentious, and Angela’s expertise doesn’t end with art.
Another great facet of the show is the science. In the show, Angela has designed a program/machine nicknamed “The Angelator” (patent pending!). It is a 3-D holographic imaging system that allows her to show 3-D images of people, or various scenarios, based on varying mathematic factors. The two scenes in which we see this at work are truly awesome examples of CGI technology. For those interested, such systems do exist today, though they’re not quite as sheek and sophisticated as the Angelator.
One thing the show does well is demonstrate Brennan’s coping mechanisms with what she deals with on a daily basis. She’s adept in three different forms of martial arts, enjoys target shooting, is obviously not fluent in popular culture idioms (missing Booth’s X-Files reference), and often appears cold or unfeeling towards “normal” people. However, all this is not just because she deals with dead people regularly. We learn courtesy of Angela that Brennan’s parents disappeared when she was a teenager, and she has no idea if they are still alive. This is the reason she became a forensic anthropologist; as Angela says to Booth, she “thinks that if someone like her had been there, things would be different”.
As I stated earlier, this show is based on the real life of forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs. Ironically, the main character in her books is named “Temperance Brennan”, so the main character in Brennan’s books on the show is named “Kathy Reichs”. As a producer of the show, Kathy works closely with the writers and series producer Hart Hanson to be sure that situations and events on the show are as realistic as possible, bringing a bold new edge to the show, that most others don’t have.
I’d like to leave you with this: if you want a show that invests you in the characters, entertains, is a little bit sexy, and teaches you something new every week, then “Bones” is for you.
One final note: “Bones” is not for the faint of heart – or stomach! Many of the scenes are quite gruesome and graphic, so viewer beware!
New episodes of Bones airs Thursday nights on Fox at 8pm, 7 central. TNT airs repeats on Mondays and sometimes on Tuesdays.
(screencap from Bones Fans Online)