Bones: Season 4
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Bones: Season 4

There is just something captivating about a mystery that almost always provides for a satisfying story. People just seem to enjoy sitting back watching while an intrepid detective goes out into the dark of night to uncover clues that will catch the criminal and bring him to justice. At least that was the general methodology employed by most of the crime mysteries in literature, film and television during the time my generation was growing up. Lately this venerable genre has been undergoing a major overhaul moving to embrace all aspects of modern technology and forensic technology. Many of the most popular shows on TV now pay excellent service to the dedicated scientists that use these new crime solving methods but for the large part something has gotten lost; the human touch is rapidly fading from the genre. It is like what was said in that impassioned speech towards the end of ‘Inherit the Wind’; "… you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline." This new, ultra modern scientific basis for a mystery is great but it does appear to have had the price of distancing the audience from the human heart of the crime thriller. Some series have tried to address this by increasing the time allotted to the back stories and personal lives of the scientists but in the majority of cases it just does help all that much. What is needed, especially for those of us old enough to remember the old school, shoe leather detectives is a transitional format to help ease us into this brave new world of solving crimes. The Fox television Network has come up with a number of novel, interesting variations on the mystery series motif. One of the best is "Bones’ and it manages to bridge the old and new approach in a natural and more importantly, highly entertaining fashion.

The basic premise of the show is the pairing of a high trained expert in forensic anthropology with a veteran FBI field agent. This allows the series to further the weekly investigation along both potential methodologies. The construction of the series is itself interesting. It is based on the mystery novels of real life forensic anthropologist Dr. Kathy Reichs who is also a bestselling author. Her books follow the exploits of a fictional member of her profession Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). The TV series reverses this with Brennan being the real person writing about Reichs’. Brennan works cases as a special advisor with her partner Special agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz). ‘Bones’, as Booth calls dr. Brennan, prides herself with being logical, rational and a true follower of the scientific method, for her something isn’t real or true until it can be scientifically proven, categorized and verified. Booth is more a type of investigator who tends to trust his gut instincts and intuition. The writers have permitted both characters to grow over the last few years coming to an understanding and appreciation of the differences in the other partner. Brennan works with the acknowledged best forensic investigation team in the world working out of the Jeffersonian Institution. In charge of any clue that might be obtained by particulate trace evidence or local insect life is Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne). He is independently wealthy with old family funds and works because he truly loves his work. He is highly intelligent and prone to conspiracy theories. This season he is re-establishing his relationship in the way of two major changes. His best friend, Brennans Assistant, is in a mental institution after committing a murder. He also broke off his engagement to the group’s artist in residence the beautiful free spirited Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin). She is able to manipulate computer images to recreate the crime or the victim’s face. The nominal head of the group is Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor), ex-lover of Booth’s and medical doctor, it is usually up to her to keep the two approaches in some form of balance. At one point Bones and Brennan and Booth attended ‘couples consoling’ to help in their partnership and began seeing Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) who has gone on to become a regular member of the team as a psychological profiler (also moving up to regular cast member).

One of the running themes this season was introducing the replacement assistant of the week. While most were qualified post graduate students under Dr. Brennan and thereby extremely qualified in the technical requirements none seem to be able to fit in well with the extremely strange social dynamic fostered by the group. One did managed to stick around after leaving the job; Daisy Wick (Carla Gallo). She was annoying with her constant talking and total adoration of Bones but it turns out she happens to be Sweets’ girlfriend. Most of the crimes require excessive decomposition of the remains leaving only the bones to analysis. The ways the writers come up with to achieve this state is always imaginative. As usual for the show the crime is in counterpoint to the personal stories particularly the leads. The major new themes continued this season was the aftermath of Booths’ recovery from brain surgery and Bones’ biological clock leading her to want to add motherhood to her list of accomplishments. Overall this is a series not to miss series each week and a part of your collection that can be enjoyed for a long time to come.

Posted 10/19/09

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