Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Babies taste kind of like fish.": Bones

(Libby and I will be switching back and forth on this until I find something better to do on Tuesdays. -- ed.)

Bones is probably my favorite procedural on the air right now. Its pleasures are deceptive and problematic, largely because the show's light-hearted wackiness and romanticism clashes with its oft-grisly crime scenes. Most of the time, the show is able to minimize this perfunctory crime solving in favor of showcasing the characters, but some weeks, they emphasize the crimes too much, and the show sort of flops around on the floor. Usually, they right themselves with the next episode (it is a procedural, after all), but the attempts to tell these darker types of mysteries usually work against what the show does best.

Sadly, the third season premiere was one of those lesser episodes. Even more sadly, it launched what appears to be a continuing storyline. Most sadly, that continuing storyline features an SDD favorite -- secret societies. There's not a lot more you can do with secret societies (that well's been gone to over and over), but cannibalism was a worthy effort on the part of the good folk at Bones. It's just that the whole thing was so ostentatious and so self-serious that it gave the whole premiere an element of ponderousness it didn't really need. I hate to be one of those fans that says what they "want" from a show, but I honestly think Bones is better when it's hanging out with the kooky squints in the lab and exploiting the chemistry of Booth and Brennan.

That said, the chemistry is officially reaching the point where the writers seem to strain to put the two characters into a place where they have to rub up against each other and be placed into a pseudo-sexual situation (in this episode, Booth tackled Brennan to the floor to protect her from an explosion that never came, putting the two in close proximity, their lips almost touching). At some point, this will just seem ridiculous, as the two haven't even really seriously pondered that they might be attracted to each other. Obviously, they're both workaholics (which buys the show more time), and the focus of the show is on the cases and the interplay among the staff members. In addition, the Angela and Hodgins pairing gives the show some room to dance away from the inevitable Booth/Brennan pairing. Still, the show's reaching the point where it needs to put up and shut up. Moonlighting creator Glenn Gordon Caron said that when he hooked up David and Maddie, he hoped to tell a story about two people who worked together, fell in love then realized that was a bad idea. Unfortunately, outside events prevented him from doing so, and David and Maddie's coupling is blamed for ruining the show. This has prompted years and years of wheel-spinning will-they/won't-they stories, and, to be honest, Caron's idea for a story about coworkers who sleep together IS pretty compelling. Let's put it together, Bones!

Angela and Hodgins are probably my favorite supporting characters, and they were mostly squandered on a storyline about Angela trying to get her old marriage annulled so she could marry Hodgins. Hodgins got some good stuff in the secret society plotline (where he would naturally know what was the what), but I was sad to see the two of them spend most of the episode with a private detective dude.

Zach also returned from Iraq, presumably burdened with some sort of deep, dark secret that we'll get to see puzzled out over the first half of the season. I like that Bones is trying a little serialization, but it would be nice if they didn't immediately go to the deep, dark secrets and the weird conspiracies. Been there, done that, television.

I don't want to make it sound like I don't like this show, because I do. But what I like about it is so incidental to the plot of any individual episode that I can't be bothered with the plot-heavy installments. I've seen enough cop shows to last a lifetime. What's unique about this show is its weird collection of characters and the nice chemistry between Booth and Brennan. I don't want it to go all Moonlighting wacky, but I don't need the cannibals.

Also, where's the cable rerun deal on this baby? It's about time for people to catch up with this underappreciated show thanks to rampant overplay on USA or TNT, don't you think?


Carrie said...

I idly flipped back and forth between this and Dancing with the Stars because I thought I might catch a glimpse of John Francis Daley. I guess his character starts later in the season? I'll probably tune back in there just to see what JFD's role is like.

I could never get into Bones after the pilot when they played Howie Day's "Collide" over a scene of Emily Deschanel lovingly reconstructing some poor dead sap's bones. Too creepy.

Todd said...

Bones was a show I halfheartedly watched until about halfway through season two, when they figured out the right mix of comedy, romance and mystery.

So I don't blame you for bailing. Sadly, you checked in on a pretty poor premiere.