Judge Jim Thomas digs up another season of mystery and intrigue.
Our reviews of Bones: Season One (published December 4th, 2006), Bones: Season Two (published September 11th, 2007), Bones: Season Three (published December 1st, 2008), Bones: Season Four (Blu-Ray) (published October 26th, 2009), Bones: Season Five (published November 18th, 2010), Bones: The Complete Sixth Season (published November 4th, 2011), Bones: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray) (published October 26th, 2011), and Bones: The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-ray) (published November 6th, 2012) are also available.
Once Upon a Crime…
As you can see, dramas these days are pretty easy to categorize, largely because they are formulaic endeavors. With Bones, the pretty people factor even oozes over into the plotline; it's telling that the only member of the original cast who wasn't pretty, Eric Mulligan's Zach Addy, turned out to be the apprentice of a serial killer. At the same time, it manages to rise above the formula, staking out its own little patch of land.
So you've got your team of pretty scientists ably assisting the pretty FBI agent. Despite plot holes that you could run the 5th Cavalry through, this is a fun show. In Bones: Season Eight, you'll see two things separate the show from the pack of procedurals.
First, Bones has some of the most gruesome crime scenes imaginable. In a particular favorite from this season, a couple has skidded off the road and is stuck in the mud. Bickering while attempting to extricate themselves, the husband is behind the car pushing while the wife guns the engine. The spinning rear wheel digs into the mud—where it encounters the head of this week's corpse. Whereupon the spinning wheel rips the corpse's face off and flings it onto hubby's shirt—where it sticks. Adding insult to injury, the wheel also flings a tooth into the guy's mouth—he reflexively swallows it.
The second thing is that the show never seems to take itself seriously. While the gore level occasionally approaches levels generally reserved for The Walking Dead, the show has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek attitude towards the gore, the writers taking a macabre glee in devising disgusting reveals for the corpse of the week. That quirky tone carries over to the plots themselves—and that's both good and bad. The good part is that it keeps the grue from dragging the show into the dark, mordant neighborhood where Criminal Minds lives. The geeks at the Jeffersonian delight in the puzzle, in ferreting out all the hidden information, and their enthusiasm is somewhat infectious. The downside of that is that bringing the criminal to justice often becomes incidental—so much so that at times it feels as though the writers pick incidental characters at random just so that they can quickly wrap things up.
The show steps away from its format every now and again, usually with good results. "The Ghost in the Machine" has an interesting twist—it's shown from the point of view of the victim, whose spirit is still trapped in its body. It's a neat conceit, and the episode does have a certain charm—particularly Cyndi Lauper as a medium—even though it doesn't quite make sense. Similarly, the running arc dealing with hacker/psych Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds, Major Payne) is gripping at times, but all too often strains credulity far beyond the breaking point. At the same time, I've found myself catching up with Season Nine online just to see how the Pelant plot line is resolved, so they must be doing something right.
Procedurals live and die on the cast chemistry, and that's really where the show shines. Leads Emily Deschanel (Boogeyman) and David Boreanaz (Angel) work wonderfully together. The team has that same strong family dynamic that marks many other procedurals. While each member of the team has a specific function (the bug man, the artist, the shrink, etc.), they have all grown beyond those labels. The interactions between each characters are clearly drawn, and tensions between one set of characters has believable effects on the others.
Trivia: Season Seven was cut short by Emily Deschanel's pregnancy, so several plot lines from that season were carried over to this season.
The series moved to an all-digital workflow several seasons ago, and good Lord, the video is impressive, with stunning details—they clearly pick camera angles to showcase the ridiculous amount of detail. When you find yourself impressed by the texture of the wet asphalt, you know you've got some seriously good video. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is solid, but the series is primarily dialogue driven, so the surround audio is never really showcased.
Extras are slight: Deleted scenes for a few episodes, a gag reel, and a short bit with cast and crew answering fan questions. There's also a commentary track for the season premiere, "The Future in the Past," with Hart Hanson (series developer and co-writer for the episode), Stephen Nathan (writer) and Ian Toynton (director). All three are executive producers on the show. While there is the occasional tidbit of information, the bulk of it is the trio joking around.
An entertaining, if occasionally goofy, show that has carved out its own peculiar niche in the increasingly crowded field of procedurals. Bones: Season Eight (Blu-ray) continues in the show's tradition.
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