|Bones: Season One (2005)
Starring: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, Eric Millegan, T.J. Thyne, Jonathan Adams
You wouldn’t necessarily think that we needed another crime-related TV show – Lord knows you can barely turn around these days without finding one – but, amazingly, Fox managed to come up with a concept that’s a little bit different: following the exploits of a forensic anthropologist and her team as they team up with the FBI.
Emily Deschanel plays Dr. Temperance Brennan, the aforementioned anthropologist, who works for the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, DC (a facility which should, of course, in no way be mistaken for the Smithsonian Institute), and, on occasion, writes novels inspired by her exploits. The novels feature a lead character named Kathy Reichs, but get this: Brennan’s character is based on a real-life forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs, whose novels feature a lead character named, you guessed it, Temperance Brennan.
Confused? In that case, let’s just refer to the character on the TV show as Bones. After all, that’s what her semi-nemesis, FBI Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), calls her. Actually, he’s less a nemesis than the Spencer Tracy to her Katherine Hepburn…and that’s where much of the magic of the show lies.
If you thought David Boreanaz was doomed to play a vampire for the rest of his life, “Bones” will change your mind; having essentially built a career out of being dark, brooding, and predominantly humorless, he’s clearly having a ball being able to play a funny guy who’s prone to making jokes and smart-ass comments whenever the opportunity presents itself. Boreanaz’s portrayal of Booth finds him swaggering through every scene with all the bravado he can muster, particularly puffing up his chest whenever he finds himself surrounded by Bones and her fellow lab geeks. Deschanel, meanwhile, is the master of the blank stare; Bones tends to prefer being locked in her lab, studying data, which leaves her at a complete loss whenever Booth…or, for that matter, anyone else…makes a pop culture reference. (At various points during the first season, she replies “I don’t know what that means” at the mention of Mulder and Scully, Hannibal Lecter, and the Great Gazoo, to name just a few.)
The aforementioned lab geeks – Bones’s socially-naïve assistant Dr. Zack Addy (Eric Millegan), and entomologist/conspiracy theorist Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) – are joined by Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), whose specialty is forensic facial reconstruction. Zack and Jack might as well be named Abbott and Costello, given how their differing personalities finding them bouncing off each other for comedic effect; Angela, meanwhile, is a longtime party girl who’s the team member closest to Bones; they end up having occasional heart-to-heart talks and, in turn, we end up learning a fair amount about both characters. There’s also the obligatory boss-man character: Dr. Daniel Goodman, played by Jonathan Adams.
The crime-solving aspects of “Bones” are inevitably first and foremost in the show, but there’s a fair amount of character development going on here as well; you can see the members of the team evolving over the course of the season. Still, no matter how much meat the other characters are given, it’s the rapid-fire patter between Bones and Booth that drives the series and makes it worth watching.
Special Features: At first, it might seem a little disappointing that there are only two audio commentaries spread throughout these twenty-two episodes, but you might change your mind after listening to the one by Deschanel and Boreanaz. Not that it isn’t entertaining listening to them banter back and forth in real life as they do when playing their respective characters, but it’s definitely one of the least educational commentaries you’re likely to ear. Thankfully, the commentary on the pilot by executive producer Barry Josephson and series creator Hart Hanson makes up for it, discussing the origins and evolution of the show. Of the three featurettes, the best is probably “Squints,” where the actors who play forensic scientists on the show discuss how they prepare for their roles; they also finally explain what the hell a “squint” is. (FBI agents call lab folks “squints” because that’s what they do when they look at evidence: they squint.)