Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2011-01-09 Entry: "Bones - "Pilot""

We're still in 2005 with the next show, although this one airs over on Fox...

Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio: 5.1

Temperance Brennan - Emily Deschanel
Seeley Booth - David Boreanaz
Zack Addy - Eric Millegan
Jack Hodgins - T.J. Thyne
Angela Montenegro - Michaela Conlin

Dulles Airport, Washington D.C., and there's a very lost-looking woman who's late picking up someone from a flight from Guatemala. But when the computers are broken, she resorts to flashing a guy to get his attention. Fortunately, the woman she's meeting is standing behind her, and has been investigating a mass grave overseas for 2 months. Someone tries to arrest her but she beats the guy up, demonstrating she's good in a fight... unfortunately he's homeland security, and she's illegally transporting human remains. She's Temperance Brennan, she's a forensic anthropologist, she identifies bodies for the FBI, she writes books, she doesn't like the nickname "Bones", and she used to work with Agent Seeley Booth (who then pretends to rescue her from her incarceration).

"I don't know what that means" seems to be a go-to line for Temperance when Seeley mentions anything pop-culture related. And that's a really fast moving pre-titles sequence. And we have actual titles, which is nice, although I'm still not sure I like the theme music, even 5 years into the show.

The body in the lake at Arlington is a tennis player, and the team at the Jeffersonian agree to help the FBI even though Temperance disagrees with her boss over how to handle FBI requests for assistance. Her team include the very young Zack Addy (who's still doing his doctorate), their bug and slime guy Jack Hodgins, and their reconstruction artist Angela Montenegro. Temperance manages to reassemble the skull so Angela can start trying to give them a picture of their victim.

Unfortunately, Brennan won't help the FBI unless she gets full field access, which Booth has to clear with his boss (the great John M. Jackson in a guest role). Meanwhile, Brennan has an uncomfortable encounter with her ex-boyfriend who's trying to reclaim his TV - they've broken up over her being distant and uncommunicative, and she dislikes him over his attempts to psychoanalyse her.

The crazy sci-fi hologram table gives Angela the chance to reconstruct the face of their victim. Only it appears to be a woman, Cleo Eller, who had an affair with a senator before disappearing. Their only real clues at the moment - the metal of the murder weapon, and diatomaceous earth. A further examination of the bones discovers fetal ear-bones pointing to Cleo being pregnant at the time of the murder. Hodgins is a conspiracy nut, and is convinced the investigation will get shut down before they get to the bottom of it due to the political ramifications.

Brennan hates psychology, as it's a soft science, but Angela is the second person who gives her the advice to "give a little bit of herself" whenever she's talking to people. Confronting the senator directly, Brennan takes some chewing gum he throws away to get a DNA match against the baby. Unfortunately, it gets Booth thrown off the case in 12 hours time.

Ah, some background - both Brennan's parents disappeared when she was 15. She does martial arts, and she shoots well. Booth was an army Ranger sniper, so he can shoot pretty well! But Temperance can goad him into getting the search warrant necessary to test the Senator's floors for evidence of the murder. Unfortunately, it only gets them the hammer used in the murder. But a chat back at the lab points her towards the Senator's aide and she proceeds to break into his house and shoot him in the leg!

So the whole show is set up on the head-versus-heart debate, with Seeley acting mostly on his feelings about people and Temperance acting on the evidence and what she can see in the bones of the victims. It's basically a buddy cop show, which always hangs on the differences between the two partners, and these two have the chemistry to make it work. David Boreanaz gets to play a real grown up which is nice to see after 8 years of Angel-angst, although there's still an element of "atonement for past actions" in his character.

The rest of the "squints" are still rather thinly drawn, but that seems to be the way these opening episodes are going - establish the main one or two cast members, and give everyone else one characteristic that people can remember. I guess that's the shortfall of a 42 minute pilot - that's really not enough time to give a proper introduction to the large ensembles that these shows have, so you have to cut corners, especially as networks appear to have stopped giving shows feature length pilots...

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