Case Number 15120


Fox // 2008 // 655 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // December 1st, 2008

The Charge

Every Body Has Secrets.

Opening Statement

It's hard to believe this is Season Three. With the strongly developed character of Temperance Brennan (from Kathy Reichs' novels), the show hit the ground running with Season One and found its feet immediately. A minor switch-up in the cast at the beginning of Season Two solidified an amazing cast of characters, and the show has been running on all cylinders since then. I say it's hard to believe this is Season Three because everything is working so smoothly it could just as easily be Season Five...or Eleven. You know a show is well-developed when it feels like the characters have always been with you, and Bones is no exception. Sadly, Season Three was the victim of the writer's strike, so we only get 15 episodes this time out. But, Fox has lessened this blow by providing a number of extras, including extended episodes, as well as the first few episodes of Season Four.

Facts of the Case

Bones is the story of the forensics team at the Jeffersonian in Washington, D.C., who are led by the brilliant anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel, Boogeyman). The team works with FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, Angel) to solve murders in the greater D.C. area. This season they solve their regular slew of murders, but add a new twist in the season-long story that follows a serial killer who targets secret societies.

All 15 episodes of Season Three are included on four discs:

Disc One
* "The Widow's Son in the Windshield"
* "Soccer Mom in the Mini-Van"
* "Death in the Saddle"

Disc Two
* "The Secret in the Soil"
* "Mummy in the Maze"
* "Intern in the Incinerator"
* "Boy in the Time Capsule"

Disc Three
* "The Knight on the Grid"
* "The Santa in the Slush"
* "The Man in the Mud"
* "Player Under Pressure"

Disc Four
* "The Baby in the Bough"
* "The Verdict in the Story"
* "The Wannabe in the Weeds"
* "The Pain in the Heart"

Disc Five houses four episodes from Season Four, probably in attempt to make up for the aborted third season:

Disc Five
* "The Yanks in the U.K., Part 1"
* "The Yanks in the U.K., Part 2"
* "The Man in the Outhouse"
* "The Finger in the Nest"

The Evidence

Sexual tension is the bread and butter of American television. The continuous question "when are they going to get together" fuels many a loyal viewership, and Bones is no exception. The relationship, both personal and professional, between Booth and Brennan is the highlight of the show. However, what makes Bones rare is that the tension between the two leads has an innocent charm that few shows can match (Moonlighting and The X-Files come to mind). Theirs is not a relationship based on hot 'n' heavy mutual sexual attraction, but an organic reaction to mutual intellectual (and physical) admiration. They're buddies for whom a romantic relationship seems both natural but fraught with the possibilities of failure. To put it more simply: they're just darn cute.

If Booth and Brennan were the only developed characters, then Bones wouldn't have made it past Season One. No, the entire Jeffersonian team is populated by fully developed characters who have relationships and interactions not dependent on the show's main plots. I was initially skeptical of Cam's arrival, but Season Three sees her growing into her role as head of the lab, while Zack's maturation after his sojourn in Iraq is equally interesting. The relationship between Hodgins and Angela gets more and more serious this season as well. But what's really impressive about the supporting cast is that the show takes the time to develop the relationships between all the characters. We don't see it every episode, but each character has particular feelings and attitudes towards each of the other characters, and it gives the show a solidity that few hour-long dramas can match.

Season Three of Bones mixes things up a bit by giving the show its first season-long story arc around a serial killer called Gormogon. This character is a cannibal who kills members of secret societies, and it's just the kind of case that can tie up all the talents of the Jeffersonian team. Although its payoff is a little weak, the fact that the story spans multiple episodes really gives the audience a peek into the team's methods. It also adds tremendously to the tension surrounding the case.

Fox gives this excellent season of Bones fair treatment on DVD. For broadcast-quality television, Bones looks pretty good. Detail wasn't quite as high as I would expect at certain points, and there was some noise here and there. The audio was fine considering the source, with good dialogue balance. The extras aren't extensive, but are solid for what they cover. There is an extended episode of "The Baby in the Bough," as well as the unaired version of "Player Under Pressure." There's an extended scene (the kiss) from "The Santa in the Slush." The two-part Season Four opener is a doozy, sending the show off in an interesting direction. For those who want to know what goes on behind the cameras, this set offers "The Director's Take," five featurettes that cover several aspects of the show (like the Angelator) in two-minute chunks. They include interviews with directors, actors, and effect wizards. Finally, there's a gag reel which is worth watching for fans of the actors.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Though I love Bones as a show, there are a few problems with this season. The main problem is that it's too darn short. Losing almost a third of the usual number of episodes is very hard to take. I also think it contributes to my second problem with this season, which is the conclusion of the Gormogon storyline. I won't spoil anything, but it all seems rather sudden. We spend several episodes trying to catch the guy, and then boom there he is. One or two more Gormogon-related episodes would have given the story a little room to breathe and would have left the ending not feeling forced.

Closing Statement

Bones is the kind of show that's going so well I can't wait to see how good it will get. Although this season of the show is short, fans are sure to be satisfied by the stories it offers. Also, the DVD presentation, while not spectacular, is more than effective, with enough extras to tide over fans until Season Four gets released.

The Verdict

Bones: Season Three is not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2008 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 92
Audio: 91
Extras: 75
Acting: 95
Story: 90
Judgment: 93

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 655 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Extended Episodes
* Unaired Version of "Player Under Pressure"
* Extended Kiss from "The Santa in the Slush"
* Gag Reel
* Director's Take
* Season 4 Bonus Episodes

* IMDb

* Official Site