'Bones' Season 1 - TV Review

"Bones" is based on the books - and to some extent the life - of author Kathy Reichs. The main character is Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel - visibly sister to Zooey), who her FBI partner Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) always refers to as "Bones" because she's a forensic anthropologist. There's a pattern to the first year: at the beginning of every episode they squabble and don't get along, during the episode they come to understand each other on the subject du jour, they reach a peace. Only to have forgotten their newfound friendship to squabble again in the next episode. Booth and his FBI buddies refer to Brennan and her team as "squints" (scientists) and see them as hopelessly clueless about people and the real world, whereas the scientists see the FBI as clueless and unable to understand scientific concepts. And they're not wrong, at least within the concept of the show, as everyone has their niche and their comedic cluelessness. Brennan even has a catch phrase whenever anyone references pop culture: "I don't understand that." (Although, bizarrely, she's familiar with "Treasure of the Sierra Madre.")

And yet the mysteries are interesting and the dialogue is often entertaining, and as annoying as I found the reductive approach to "scientists" interacting with "real humans," I kept coming back to enjoy the mysteries the (non-reductive) dialogue, and the humour.

In the last episode of the first season, Brennan's family gets yanked into the spotlight and we're given our first open-ended episode, with them handing us the fact that someone important thought dead is actually alive ... and the episode ends. When we come back to the first episode of the second season, it's clear that this previously wholly episodic series is now going to string out the story of Brennan's family through the entire season.

I don't like episodic TV, but I like this even less. Having a continuous story arc is good, but the only reason they're doing it here is to string viewers along: "hey, maybe we'll reveal some new tiny detail of her family next week!" And that's pretty much the only thing that's not wrapped up at the end of each show.

The most blatant use of "episodic" was around the fifth episode of the first season: Booth and Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) figure out that Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) (the institute's self-declared "bug and slime guy") is not only fantastically rich, but also indirectly owns a large portion of the archaeological institute they all (except Booth) work for. This is wrapped up in one episode and never mentioned again in the following 18 or so episodes - as if you wouldn't treat the guy a little differently when you knew he was A) insanely rich, B) worked exclusively for love of the job (he sure as hell doesn't need the paycheque), and C) could choose to turn your world upside down.