Judge Cynthia Boris writes our first review that does not use the word "emo" in a pejorative context.
Our reviews of 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.
"I don't know what that means."
Fifteen years ago, TV viewers didn't have a clue, nor did they want one, when it came to the science of forensics. They preferred to see their cops solve crimes the old-fashioned way, with clever questions, fanciful disguises, and car chases. C.S.I. changed all of that and Bones changed it again. This isn't your mother's forensic detective show; this is one with humor and heart.
Facts of the Case
Based on the books of Kathy Reichs, Bones is actually the lovely but socially lacking Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel, Glory Road). A forensic anthropologist, she lends her skills to wildly creative FBI agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz, Angel) and helps solve crimes that begin with particularly mangled or decomposed corpses. Brennan has a team of brilliant but quirky "squints" (Booth's nickname for the science geeks), which includes young, socially inept Zack Addy (Eric Millegan), paranoid bug and slime expert Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), and the one bright bulb in the box, forensic artist Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin).
In the first season, Brennan's boss is played by Jonathan Adams (American Dreams) and Booth's boss is John M. Jackson (JAG).
Though the show is named for Deschanel's character, it's truly a dual star show, with she and Boreanaz sharing the screen time and that—right there is the joy of the series. Come, let me tempt you to Fox side.
To get the feel for Bones, you need to simply listen to the music they play. Like the show, the music has a dual signature. There's the techno, which is used for the theme as well as in the episodic soundtrack, and there is the emo rock, which is often used under "discovery" montages. Techno-Emo. That describes the show quite well. It's an interesting mix of detective work and pure human emotion.
Each week Booth delivers a new set of bones for Bones to examine. You gotta give creativity points to the writers for coming up with odd ways to present skeletal remains as well as situations that require the assistance of the FBI. Some of the crime scenes are gruesome and some viewers may have trouble with the shots of bugs, rotting flesh, and detailed murder descriptions. To keep the show from going to a dark place, these scenes are usually softened with comedic banter. For example, while Bones examines the remains of a young woman who was tied up, sliced open, then left to be mauled by vicious dogs, Booth carries on about her new interest in online dating. The incongruity of it makes the scene so much more real and that, I believe is the key to this show. These people are real, quirky, true, but I like them as people.
While Booth and Bones are passionately invested in what they do, they both hide their emotions under the guise of, "I'm just doing my job." The character of Angela (the forensic artist and Brennan's best friend) is the emotional center for the group. She laughs, cries, flirts, she draws a smile on the sketch of the victim because the woman was pregnant and starting a new life in a new country so she should have been happy. She's the balance point between Booth and Bones and she's the only person who truly understands both sides of every story.
Emotions. That's what I keep coming back to as I write about this show. There's a heck of a lot of 'em here, and I cry like an idiot at the end of one out of every four episodes. Bones isn't just about solving the mystery. It's about people. Why people kill. How survivors survive. How the family of the victims cope with the loss. It's about people trying to make a difference in the world and people paying penance for what they did wrong. The weekly mysteries are only half of the story. Booth and Bones are both puzzles in themselves, and over the course of the season so many secrets are revealed (and so many are left uncovered).
I was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I was very familiar with David Boreanez's work. When I heard he was playing an FBI agent in an emotional crime drama, I didn't think he had it in him. I was wrong. He rocks the role of Seely Booth, giving him depths of character that constantly surprise me. He's funny. He's charming. He's goofy and then…wham…he's got a dark side that you don't want to mess with. Yeah, the show is called Bones, but Booth and Bones would have been more accurate.
Take at look at what you get in this box set.
• "The Man in the SUV"
• "A Boy in a Tree"
• "The Man in the Bear"
• "A Boy in a Bush"
• "The Man in the Wall"
• "The Man on Death Row"
• "The Girl in the Fridge"
• "The Man in the Fallout Shelter"
• "The Woman at the Airport"
• "The Woman in the Car"
• "The Superhero in the Alley"
• "The Woman in the Garden"
• "The Man on the Fairway"
• "Two Bodies in the Lab"
• "The Woman in the Tunnel"
• "The Skull in the Desert"
• "The Man with the Bone"
• "The Man in the Morgue"
• "The Graft in the Girl"
• "The Soldier on the Grave"
• "Woman in Limbo"
The special features on this disc aren't really all that special. There are two commentaries, Hart Hanson and Barry Josephson on the pilot and David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel on "Two Bodies in the Lab." Both are interesting for different reasons. The actors have more fun (are they drinking?) and it's nice to hear a more natural Deschanel. And she and I were both amazed by Boreanaz's powers of recall as he recalled detail after detail about that particular shoot.
The featurette "Bones—Inspired by the Life of Forensic Anthropologist & Author Kathy Reichs" is a fast-paced look at how Kathy Reichs influenced the show and the character of Brennan. Though there are episode clips, it's pretty much spoiler free.
"Character Profiles" are nothing but static screens with bullet point lists of the facts we know about each of the characters. Boring.
The "Squints" featurette is another fast-paced montage that takes a closer look at the people on Bones' team. Well edited and fun, but there are a few spoilers if you haven't watched all the episodes.
"The Real Definition" featurette seems like a good idea, but in reality it doesn't work all that well. The feature takes several complicated terms from the series, defines them, shows their usage in the real world, then how they relate to the crimes on the show. Lots of spoilers here and not very interesting to watch.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There is really nothing to dislike here, except maybe double-sided discs that had a tendency to freeze and pixelate. If you're a first time viewer, don't be put off by Brennan's early coldness and overly inflated self-defense skills. Her character evens out after a bit and it's worth the wait.
Bones makes me cry on a regular basis and when was the last time you heard that about a forensic crime drama? What this series does exceptionally well is change gears. If the scene is too grisly, we switch to funny. If the scene is light, throw 'em a killer curve. Cold and clinical, time for a emotional and poignant moment. It's not just the weekly mystery that will keep you guessing. The show is full of surprises, and the biggest surprise is the chemistry between Boreanez and Deschanel—they're Tracy and Hepburn as modern crime fighters and the subtleties, the layers—they slay me every time.
Booth is ready to declare this series not guilty, but Bones says that's pure speculation on his part. She's waiting for Angela's sketch, Hodgins' bug report, and Zack thinks he found an anomaly on the third disc that could be significant.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary by: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Hart Hanson, Barry Josephson
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