Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wednesday Review: The Great TV Procedural

Welcome to another edition of The Wednesday Review!

Today's topic:

How fun is this? Pic from IMDb.

Introduction: Now in it's 10th season, Bones is a crime procedural drama inspired by the writings of Dr. Kathy Reichs.

Dr. Temperance 'Bones'* Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a brilliant forensic anthropologist at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, D.C., specializes in identifying remains by nothing more than, guess what?  Their bones!  Working with her unlikely FBI partner, Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), and a crack team of scientists, a psychologist and an artist (Michaela ConlinTJ ThyneTamara Taylor and John Francis Daley),** they solve murders and catch the bad guys.

Etc, etc., etc.

My Review:  I find this show strangely addictive.  Now, I've seen my fair share of procedural crime dramas.  I particularly enjoy the occasional episode of NCIS.  But it's not a genre I usually care too much about.  These shows are fun for a while, but they inevitably go stale - it becomes a case of plot theme and variation, mixed unpleasantly with awkward efforts to 'develop' the characters.  So why does Bones continue to hold my attention?

Here's the deal.  Bones is different from many other procedural dramas in three crucial ways.

1.  Unlike most procedurals, Bones is a character-focused show - character development and crime fighting go hand in hand.  While said development may not always be exactly subtle in terms of how it relates to the plot, it is consistent in its integration, starting with the pilot.  Well-developed from the start, these characters change gradually and believably over the course of the entire series.  This is not common.^

2.  This show has fantastic supporting characters/cast.  First, it's consistent. We've got a core group that has been there since day one or close to it, which gives a cohesiveness to the show beyond the two leads.  That, in turn, makes the world of the show feel bigger than what we see on screen.  Second, it's malleable.  Every once in a while, we lose and/or gain someone.  This keeps a freshness that you need in a long-running show, and the frequency keeps such changes from being too disruptive.  Finally, these are mostly well-developed, well-acted characters.  You get to know them. Although there are technically two leads, the show feels like an ensemble.  This is a good thing.

3.  If you're going to write ten-plus years of murders that require the expertise of a forensic anthropologist, you better be creative.  Happily the writers, led by creator Hart Hanson, are endlessly imaginative.  There's a nice mix of reasons behind the murders, ranging from accidental manslaughter to crazy genius serial killers, and the variety of methods for murder (and states in which to find the remains) is astounding.  In almost 200 episodes I have yet to see a story that felt like a repeat of a previous plot.  That is impressive.

So there you have it.  There are, of course, aspects of the show I don't care for so much, characters I could live without, occasional clunkiness in the character development department, and some repeated plot devices, but all told, this is still one of the best-written TV shows out there.

Booth and Brennan.  Photo from

Seasons: 10 (9 completely aired)
Episodes per Season: Yeah.  Anywhere from 13 to 26.
Episode Length: Around 45 minutes

My Rating: 5 stars

*See?  The title of the show is awesome, in that it could refer to either the actual bones, or to Dr. Brennan.  Wordplay, ladies and gentlemen.  You know this is going to be a well-written show.

**Not to mention the 'Squinterns'!  -Eric Millegan, Eugene Byrd, Michael Grant Terry (my favorite), Carla Gallo, Pej Vahdat, Joel David Moore, Ryan Cartwright (2nd favorite), Luke Kleintank, Laura Spencer and Ignacio Serricchio.

^This is, in fact, so uncommon, I thought it prudent to reiterate the fact in a footnote.

No comments:

Post a Comment