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Bones: Season Five Premiere

The new season of Bones brings Cyndi Lauper guesting as a psychic, the return of Seeley Booth's funky socks, as well as the best screwball romantic team on TV.


Bones

Airtime: Thursdays, 8pm ET
Cast: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne, Tamara Taylor, John Francis Daley
Subtitle: Season Five Premiere
Network: Fox
Air date: 2009-09-17
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Bones is sublime. Unlike so many other forensics shows, it is full of dark comedy and genuinely appealing characters. It's smart and never panders to the audience, knowing we care more about relationships and insights than guns and guts. The Season Five premiere, "The Harbingers in the Fountain," brings Cyndi Lauper guesting as a psychic, the return of Seeley Booth's funky socks, as well as the best screwball romantic team on TV.

Bones (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) have long since forged a mature partnership, challenging and frustrating each other. Last season's controversial finale had them married and living in alternate reality, thus briefly offering the fantasy viewers both want and worry about. The new season's premiere, airing tonight, opens six weeks after Booth's successful surgery for a benign brain tumor. Waking up confused about his reality, thus setting up a conflict between head and heart. When Bones wants to jump back into the week's murder case, Booth needs a moment, asking "Let me just re-acclimate myself at my own speed here, okay?"

Encouraged by Lauper's kooky psychic to follow his emotions instead of listening to doctors talking about what happened to his brain, Booth asks Cam (Tamara Taylor) to reassure him of his identity. She agrees with the psychic, telling him he's a "sweet, kickass FBI murder solver with hard fists and a lionheart. Forget the bruised brain and go with the lionheart."

While Booth is here urged to be emotional, the women around him are allowed to be smart. If her colleagues tease Bones for her Ms. Spock-style hyper rationality, her insistent intelligence grounds the show. She brings the logic, the love of empiricism, and the (almost unconvincingly ridiculous) inability to recognize her own feelings for Booth. He brings the courage, canny crime-fighting skills, and predictable refusal to acknowledge his own feelings for Bones. They also share a love of truth and justice, not to mention a willingness to validate each other's strengths ("science" skills and "people" skills). Bickering like an old married couple, they regularly debate complex ideas and all the tough emotions the murder cases spark.

That's not to say the show doesn't have actual fun. Lauper's performance this week as Avalon Harmonia recalls the Season Three episode, "The Wannabe in the Weeds," when the usually serious Bones revealed her love of Lauper and expertly sang "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" at an ill-fated open mic night. The team's artist, Angela (Michaela Conlin), just so happens to have a father who is in ZZ Top (and he really shows up from time to time). Such pop culture references lighten the tone but also contextualize the characters: they live in a world that is familiar to viewers. Booth teases Bones about her geekiness whenever she can't recognize a reference, and loves it when she does. He wants her to understand him, and his movie and film references help shape his experience.

At the same time, in this episode as in all others, Bones and Booth find distraction and satisfaction in a solving a murder case, here involving a mass grave discovered under a fountain. The team splits on whether to buy Avalon's mystic insights or stick to logic and evidence. Bones tells Angela she needs "actual evidence and not some mumbo jumbo from a deck of tarot cards." And so Booth, outfitted with his "Cocky" rooster belt buckle, and Bones, most comfortable letting her geek flag fly in lab coat and hazmat suit, look forward to another season of entertaining banter and investigation.

9

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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