Like most of the log jam of new school forensic based police procedural dramas, Fox’s delightfully gory series Bones gets a bit samey after so many episodes. These shows can still be enjoyable, but the thinly veiled formula becomes glaringly apparent after a while, especially when said episodes are watched back-to-back-to-back in marathon form over the course of a few days. But now the most recent season of Bones, the sixth, is available for your consumption on DVD, and you can do just that.
Where Bones distinguishes itself from the pack it with it’s cast of characters. Every one of these shows, from NCIS to Criminal Minds, attempts to infuse their characters with all manner of ticks and quirks to make them stand out in an oversaturated marketplace. Bones does the same thing, but they simply do it better than their counterparts, and the peculiarities feel more honest, less like an obvious device.
Loosely based on the life of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, Bones follows the exploits of a cadre of civilian experts the FBI employs to help them solve crimes. If television and movies have taught us one thing, it is that really smart people are also really strange, and hence, the group of “squints” are a bunch of socially maladjusted, bug-obsessed, detail-oriented geniuses. They can recite obscure facts like walking, flesh-covered encyclopedias, but when it comes to relating to the real world around them, they are way out of their element.
This clash of personalities forms the center of Bones. Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), affectionately known as ‘Bones’, is beautiful and smarter than, well, everyone, but she is also scientific and rational to the point that she can’t relate to other people. Her partner, Special Agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), is in many ways, her polar opposite. He’s a former sniper, a man of deep faith, moved by passion and emotion rather than logic and reason.
Their back and forth, this conflict between a book smarts and street smarts, and lingering sexual tension between Bones and Booth, is what drives the overall narrative of Bones. They have to figure out how to deal with each other, as well as solve crimes, and big ups to series creator Hart Hansen and the writers for keeping this going for six seasons without it becoming stale. That alone is an impressive feat.
Season 6 of Bones provides more of what you expect from the series: a specific, intelligent, not to mention morbid, brand of humor; romantic tension between its two leads, who also serve as producers; and a rotating cast of interns for Bones to make feel stupid and inadequate. In this season you see the ultimate conclusion of the “Gravedigger” saga, an occasional storyline that has persisted through previous seasons. Though the death of one arc gives birth to another, as Booth is compelled to hunt down a former colleague, a legendary sniper who has gone off the reservation, meting out his own brand of murderous outlaw justice.
Bones tells fun crime tales with a level of gore that that is, at times, shockingly graphic, especially for a network TV show. There are rotting bodies of all types, and if you’re sensitive to decaying, maggot-covered flesh, you might want to eat dinner before sitting down to watch that episode of Bones. That is a large part of the show’s charm, watching characters poke around in desiccated flesh, looking for clues, the body in front of them more of a science project than the remains of a human being.
As you can imagine, the will-they-won’t-they dichotomy between Bones and Booth also runs through Season 6. However, this time around, there are serious developments that will indelibly alter the landscape of the show. The next few sentences may SPOIL some things. If you keep up with Bones, you know that Bones is pregnant, and that Booth is the father. See, I told you it was big.
I can’t help but wonder how this will impact the dynamic of the show. This choice presents problems as well as possibilities. It changes the relationship between Booth and Bones, drastically and forever; it removes one of the primary, continuing sources of tension in the narrative (their relationship is akin to that of Mulder and Scully in The X-Files); and it creates a whole new world for the show to explore. On one hand, there’s fertile new thematic ground to tread, but at the same time, the show runs the risk of changing the core of the show so much that it becomes something completely different and alienates its fan base.
The majority of Bones Season 6 maintains the show’s established pattern—twisted humor, conflicting personalities, and crime solving—but it also throws a monkey wrench into the gears, and as a result, the show will never be same. Whether this is for the better or worse remains to be seen. One thing is certain, however, for fans of the show, it is an interesting time to watch.
Bones: The Complete Sixth Season, the Cradle to the Grave Edition, comes stacked with bonus features. A handful of audio commentaries with cast and crew on select episodes are the definite high point of the extras, but if you’re a serious fan, the extended episodes and gag reels are also worth a watch. There is featurette that goes into the visual effects of Bones, and, most peculiarly, the DVD comes with the pilot episode of The Killing, AMC’s latest crime drama. Despite the fact that both series deal with crime solvers, there is little common ground between the two shows.