By Paula Hendrickson
I remember watching the pilot episode of Bones well before it aired. A lot of people I know were familiar with the books by real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, upon which the series is based. I went on record saying it was a fun, light-hearted show that I thought would do well. A few Reichs fans and online curmudgeons I know begged to differ. While they liked some elements of the show, they loathed how Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel) was being portrayed. They said she was too dense, had an annoying voice, and they’d go all Elvis on their TV if she said, “I don’t know what that means” again. More than one of those friends predicted the show wouldn’t last a full season.
April 8, Bones marks its 100th episode.
That’s a major accomplishment for any series, especially so on FOX, which is often the first network to cancel new series—sometimes after just two or three episodes.
The thing about Bones is it’s not all about Brennan or her cases. This show is about the characters and how they work those cases. They may be sifting through decayed and often gruesome remains hunting for clues to solving a murder, but make no mistake, it’s a fun ride. It’s even turned me into a David Boreanaz fan.
See, I was a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan (still am, actually), but never really cared for Boreanaz’s character, Angel. He started out to be so serious, but lightened up a bit over time. Then, they gave him his own spin-off show, Angel, and the funny began. Angel was pretty dark at times, but on his own show, the character finally grew a real sense of humor. (One of the funniest episodes, “Smile Time,” turned Angel into a puppet and really gave Boreanaz a chance to showcase his comedic side.)
Thankfully, Bones continues allowing Boreanaz (as Special Agent Seeley Booth)—and the rest of the cast—to bring comic touches to what could otherwise be a dry procedural. Even Deschanel’s brainiac Brennan, who has virtually no sense of humor, can occasionally be funny. Why? Because she’s so hyper-literate and rational that sarcasm, humor and jokes go right over her head, making the smartest person in the room seem not so smart. Humor can be a great equalizer.
Throw in the great Stephen Fry now and then as Booth’s former FBI-appointed psychologist (Booth shot a clown-shaped speaker and was sent to therapy to assess his anger issues), and this show is a guaranteed delight. (The only thing I’d like more than seeing Fry on Bones is if he reunited with long-time comedy partner Hugh Laurie on House.)
The 100th episode will flashback to Booth and Brennan’s first meeting, so expect some in-jokes about what has since transpired in the story. We might even see that Brennan has developed a slight sense of humor from working so closely with Booth.
Bones airs Thursdays on FOX at 7 p.m.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the April 7-13, 2010 issue