Bones: Season One
Although there is a ban on human cloning the television networks have been doing something similar for decades. When one genre becomes popular the other networks will clone the basic premise and create their own series. With the current wild success of crime dramas involved with the science of forensics Fox has made their own entry with ĎBonesí. While many late comers to the genre of the day are mere shadows of the original ĎBonesí represents something rarely seen, a series that can make it on its own. This series moves away from the more general crime scene investigators and focuses on forensic anthropology. A person who is in this field usually is an expert in osteology, the scientific study of bones. When a crime victimís mortal remains are reduced to a pile of bones it is the forensic anthropologist that has to piece together who the person was and uncover clues as to the means of death.
Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) is a forensic anthropologist who works out of the world renowned Jefferson Institute. In that capacity she examines remains from various digs and pieces together something about the human being that once lived. She and her team also lend their services to the FBI when such expertise is required to break a case. Brennan is a brilliant young woman, well respected in her field. She also moonlights as an author of a series of mystery novels featuring a character called Dr. Kathy Reichs, who solves crimes as a forensic anthropologist. Well, they say to write about what you know. In her early life Brennan was in foster care and did not have the change or inclination to become socialized like others her age. As such she may be near genus level with her knowledge of other cultures but is clueless when it comes to modern American culture. Whenever a reference is made that almost everyone in the country would get Brennan inevitably response with ĎI donít get ití. Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) works on Brennanís team as a specialist in forensic facial reconstruction. She is able to take a skull and create a picture of what it looked like in life. Angela is Brennanís best friend and confidant. She is also the polar opposite of Brennan, outgoing and full of life. She is also the conscience of the team, helping others with her renditions that they are working with the remains of a once living human being. One of the key people of the Brennan team is Dr. Jack Hodkins (T.J. Thyne). His doctorate is in entomology, the study of insect, but is also expert in minerals, spores and just about everything that can stick to remains. Jack is sarcastic, rebels against any and all authority figures and is a major adherent to most conspiracy theories. Although he seems to live a modest lifestyle he comes from a lot of money. His family is also a major supporter of the Jefferson Institute. Every series like this needs a geek and here we get the character in the form of Zack Addy (Eric Millegan). He s working on three doctorates but is unable or, more likely, unwilling to complete them. His closest friend is Jack who called him out on this stating that he is so unsure of himself that he doesnít want to complete his PhDs and have to go out on his own. While not part of Brennanís team but working closely with them is FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz). He is not scientifically oriented preferring to go on instinct rather than forensics. He is a former Army sniper and a street wise investigator. His nick name for Brennan is ĎBonesí, something that annoyed her at first but soon she came to accept it. Booth and Brennan frequently interview suspects and visit crime scenes together and their different styles actually compliment each other.
If it wasnít for the rich background and individuality of the characters this series would have degenerated into the skeleton of the week format. Since the focus of the story is on the interpersonal relationships here it can remain fresh week after week. In this first season there are several references to her side line of writing mysteries but it never takes over the story line. It is actually a little inside joke since Brennanís character, Kathy Reichs is in reality a real forensic anthropologist who writes books with Temperance Brennan as the character. Going too deep into Brennanís writing career would have diluted the stories. The characters are also permitted to grow as season one progresses. They are not stuck in their stereotypes but are afforded ample opportunity to change, responding to the pressures of the job and their lives outside the lab. Some of the science here may be pushing things a bit but this is not a doctorate dissertation. It is fun to watch and that is after all what is important.
Holding the series together is without any doubt the cast. They not only work well in their individual roles but do a great job as an ensemble. Emily Deschanel literally has show business in her blood. She is the sister of actress Zoey Deschanel and their parents Caleb and Mary Jo are respected in the field as well. Deschanel is excellent as Brennan. She can combine the aloof scientific detachment with the natural need of human contact any young woman needs. Deschanel plays Brennan as someone who knows that she is an outsider in her own culture. While she can rattle off facts and figures about the most esoteric cultures she is unable to connect with any pop culture reference. There is great chemistry between her and her co-star David Boreanaz. While is best known as the vampire with soul on Buffy here he demonstrates that is talent extends to playing the living. While there are no overt romantic situations between Booth and Brennan the sexual tension is there. This is a series of contrasting characters and the two actors here do well demonstrating how both approaches to the crime are necessary. Another contrast is the performance of Descheanel with Michaela Conlin. They can go from true professionals to girls just talking in a moment. Conlin is the heart of the series and carries it off with perfection. The relationship between the characters created by T.J. Thyne and Eric Millegan helps to carry the series. As they portray their respective characters bicker and argue there is a real bond between the two that the audience can appreciate. Milleganís character is naÔve almost to a fault. He hides his insecurity behind his intellect but Thyneís character is able to see right through it.
Fox does an excellent job in bringing this series to DVD. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is excellent, as it should be consider it is a contemporary series. The color balance is true to life. The Dolby 5.1 audio is also crisp and clear. Fox has also provided a better than usual set of extras that will delight the fans of the series. Key episodes have a cast and crew commentary that demonstrates just how much fun they have doing this show. I particularly enjoyed the commentary track that features Deschanel and Boreanaz. They step out of their characters and relate some nice behind the scenes details. There is also a featurette about the real ĎBonesí, Kathy Reichs that is very interesting to watch. This is a must have for fans and an excellent opportunity for anyone out there that has not seen this excellent series.