Stock skeleton warning: The content in Bones, as with most procedurals, can vary widely from week to week. What you saw last week isn't necessarily what you'll see to-marrow.
Dr. Temperance Brennan is a brilliant, attractive forensic anthropologist skilled at reading bones and other human remains. Dealing with living, breathing people, however, tends to give the good doctor a headache. While she's softened a bit since she had a baby with former Army sniper-turned-FBI agent Seeley Booth—forming a formidable partnership both on and off the clock—"Bones" is still most comfortable in the world of fibulas and metatarsals. And her cohorts at the Jefferson Institute wouldn't have it any other way. Together, they make up a Washington, D.C., forensic team to die for—and somebody always seems to be doing just that.
Based on the best-selling books by Kathy Reichs, Bones is all about cadavers and conundrums that demand lab work, footwork and at least a little teamwork. But along with scientific insight and superhero-smart solutions, parts of this hour-long show challenge our ability to suspend disbelief. For one thing, wunderkind Dr. Brennan is also a best-selling mystery novelist, a black belt in martial arts and a crack shot with a handgun. Given a little provocation, the socially shy PhD will borrow moves from Chuck Norris or Clint Eastwood, and somehow the authorities let her get away with it.
Spiritual themes rise to the surface more often than they do on, say, CBS' CSI shows, with Booth (a Catholic) and Bones (an atheist) regularly bumping heads. But the result never strays too far from "approved for mainstream TV" territory, which is to say it's not designed to reinforce Christian faith or ideals.
Bones reaches out for viewers with well-developed characters and smartly written dialogue, especially for its leads, who bring to mind opposites-attract duos from The X-Files, Moonlighting and Cheers. But the real "draw" here are close-ups of people digging through decaying tissue, corpses being stripped by flesh-eating beetles, and a frozen pig getting tossed into a wood chipper, among many, many other things. While the show may feel in some ways "lighter" than some of its procedural pals over on CBS, the camera's certainly not shy about showing us all things dead.
"Eight o'clock seems too early for a show featuring long, loving shots of desiccated corpses, but network TV doesn't abide by many genteel rules or good manners anymore," said Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales. "Even adults may feel the director is way too generous with views of rotting remains."
"The Family and the Feud"
Bones and Booth investigate the death of a six-toed man in rural West Virginia. When they learn that the victim was a major player in a Hatfield/McCoy-like feud, suspicion naturally falls on the other family. Meanwhile, Bones struggles with leaving her infant daughter in the care of Max, Bones' father who deserted her when she was little.
We get some nice messages about family, reconciliation and giving people second chances here. But we also frequently see a grotesque, decaying corpse. Doctors remove a shoe (pulling off a bit of skin as they do so) to reveal a nausea-inducing foot.
A man shoots at Bones and Booth; when Booth grabs the weapon from the guy, the attacker hits him in the face. Booth whaps the aggressor with the rifle butt. We hear about how, in the old days, the feuding parties "used to just kill each other and call it a day." Now they "just" file nuisance lawsuits.
Couples kiss. Young lovers from rival families meet in the woods; their activities are referred to by Booth as "getting it on." Without going too far down the path Deliverance went, thankfully, we hear a man refer to his truffle-sniffing pig as a "sexy beast." Characters unearth "h‑‑‑" three or four times, and "b‑‑ch," "a‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "b‑‑tard" once each.