[15 November 2010]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Booth and Bones are back in Bones: The Complete Fifth Season, and they’ve brought plenty of bad guys and dead bodies with them. This “Beyond the Grave Edition” DVD set includes all 22 episodes from season five and several special features that should please fans of the forensics as well as those viewers who follow the inter-personal fireworks.
For those unfamiliar with Bones, the drama is centered on the unlikely teaming of the world’s leading forensic anthropologist, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz) Dr. Brennan is also a best-selling author of books based on her anthropological finds. The show usually takes place in the fictional Jeffersonian Museum in Washington DC, where Brennan’s team of experts, or “squints”, assist in the identification of human remains and help piece together the puzzles of how, where, when and why a person died. Of course, because the FBI is involved, they are usually trying to find how and by whom he or she was murdered.
Over five seasons, the characters have all developed varying personal relationships, both within and outside of their work on murder cases. The show wouldn’t be half as interesting to watch if there wasn’t a tangled web of romantic attractions and sexual tension in addition to the murders, mysteries dead bodies and dismembered bones. At the beginning of season five, Dr. Brennan—though still not at ease with the social niceties and rather inept at recognizing emotions—has realized how important Booth is to her, she just mistakes the feelings for less than they are. Booth, on the other hand, has just returned to active duty after having a brain tumor removed, and he is convinced that he’s in love with Brennan. She thinks it’s still the tumor talking.
These two have done this dance before, it’s part-and-parcel of their partnership dynamic, but never to the extent we see in this season. Booth wants to dance, but Bones doesn’t know how. They spin and turn and sometimes step on each other’s toes, as they attempt to find out what most everyone around them, and we, the viewers, already know. Even though it’s clear from the outset that they make a great team in more ways than one, and so finally should try to be together, it’s still fun to watch the two try and find their feet on the matter, while simultaneously solving gruesome crimes.
Booth and Bones are not the only source of relationship drama in this season. Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamar Taylor), who manages the Jeffersonian crew has her hands full with her recently adopted 16-year-old daughter, Michelle (Tiffany Hines). FBI psychologist Sweets ( John Frances Daley) is still dating the annoyingly irrepressible Daisy (Carla Gallo), one of Dr. Brennan’s assistants, and it’s going rather worse for him because he’s trying to manipulate his relationship to provide a model for Booth and Bones, at the same time as he’s trying to unlock the clues of their situation so that he might emulate it. Hodgins (T. J. Thyne) is still in love with Angela (Michaela Conlin), who has begun dating Wendell (Michael Grant Terry), another in a series of Brennan’s interning assistants.
Speaking of interns, this season has many recurring characters, not to mention a glut of guest stars. Clark Edison (Eugene Byrd), Vincent Nigel-Murray (Ryan Cartright) Arastoo Vaziri (Pej Vahdat) and Colin Fisher (Joel Moore) round out the anthropology interns, and if there’s one major complaint about season five of Bones, it’s that these great characters seem rather randomly thrown around sometimes. There’s no continuity through episodes with the interns—save Daisy and Wendell by virtue of their romantic status—and they never have a chance to connect or seem like they are part of the show. As much as the characters are likeable, interesting and well-acted, they feel misplaced and are jarring to the story lines much of the time.
However, that’s a minor flaw when balanced with the list of guest stars in this season. First off, there’s Cyndi Lauper as Angela’s psychic, Avalon Harmonia, and she fabulous. Stephen Fry graces several episodes as psychologist-turned-chef Gordon Wyatt, who mentors Sweets, counsels Booth and refers to the Booth and Bones problem as “a scrummy conundrum”. Emily Deschanel’s sister, Zooey makes an appearance as a long lost and equally socially awkward cousin of Bones’. Ralph Waites plays Hank, Booth’s grandfather, and Brendan Fehr returns as Booth’s brother, Jared. Billy Gibbons is back as Angela’s father and Ryan O’Neal is still wonderful as Brennan’s wayward dad. Other returning faces include Patricia Belcher as FBI prosecutor Caroline Julian and to the delight of long time fans, Eric Milligan as Dr. Brennan’s first assistant, Zack Addy.
Milligan’s thoroughly enjoyable reprise is just one of many treats in “The Parts in the Sum of the Whole”, which was the series’ 100th episode and directed by David Boreanaz. It’s a flashback to Bones and Booth’s real first case together, in which we see them, and several other main character meeting and consulting on a case more than a year before they were officially assigned to work together. It’s great to see the characters go back to the odd, uncomfortable people they were before they collided, and the production did a great job of getting all of the little details right, from the wardrobe and hair to the fact the no one in the Jeffersonian wore gloves or worried too much about tainting evidence back when the bones were ancient relics instead of recent victims. This episode is definitely one of the highlights of the season.
It’s not the only one, though. “The Bond in the Boot” follows the case of a real-life international incident, complete with dead spies, fast cars, villainous torture and briefcase full of diamonds. “The Devil in the Details” deals with institutions of faith and mental institutions, as the team investigates the charred remains of a human with horns and a tail. “A Night at the Bones Museum” has the Jeffersonian on lock-down at gun-point as the team is forced to examine what may or may not be the exhumed body of a president. My personal favorite, “The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle” sends Booth and Bones to a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp run by a delicious Michael Des Barres and featuring Josh Todd as the superstar guitarist everyone signed up to see. It’s an episode that gets to see the pair get a little silly and have a little more fun than their average murder investigation.
Not every episode is a winner, however, and sadly it’s the season finale that falls short. “The Beginning in the End” is really a just very disappointing rush up to a wholly dissatisfying dénouement. One can only hope that, given the episodes title, there will be a better resolution coming in season six.
Until then, there are the Bones: The Complete Fifth Season special features to study, including deleted scenes, a gag reel, and extended cuts and commentaries for selected episodes; two featurettes: The Bodies of Bones, which details the way the show’s victims and remains are created and brought to, well, death, and The Nunchuck Way, a humorous, behind-the-scenes peek at some stunt training, and a behind-the-scenes look at the 100th Episode with David Boreanaz.