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STUDIO: Twentieth Century Fox
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 964 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Androgyny: Playing Haru Tanaka Featurette
• Squints in Training Featurette
The X factor of the X-Files’ character chemistry mingles with the ick factor of CSI’s cadaver chemistry.
Actors: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, Tamara Taylor, T.J. Thyne, etc.
Directors: David Boreanaz, Allan Kroeker, Allison Liddi, Brad Turner, Chad Lowe, etc.
FBI Special Agent (and ex-Ranger sniper) Seeley Booth teams up with forensic anthropologist, Dr. Temperance Brennan and her squad of Smithsonian squints to solve messy murders every week. Season 4 is no different. Boreanaz continues to bring the cocksure charm as Booth (completely free from the brooding cardboardery of early Buffy) opposite Deschanel, who is pitch-perfectly a strange mix of alluring/awkward/android as the titular “Bones”. Gut VS fact. People skills VS anthropology. Brain VS brawn. Science VS… well, not-science.
In a show filled with nerds, Bones is the most like Next Generation’s Data. She botches colloquialisms, she doesn’t understand pop culture refererences, and despite loathing conjecture over logic, she maintains a serious interest in assimilating herself amongst her fellow humans. Purely for the sake of anthropology of course. Like Bones, the show itself examines what it means to be human, what makes people commits these horrible acts and how careers filled with microscopes and x-rays can still leave time to bond with the people around you. Forging close friendships amidst murder and rubber gloves.
The series’ format hasn’t changed much during its run. Any given ep opens with a creatively constructed crime scene (kooky location and/or condition of vic) and amusing discovery, sending our main characters on a science-gobbledygook-driven chase for cause of death, murder weapon, and the perp who dunnit. It’s a show based on forensics (or more accurately, based on a fictional book series about a fictional forensic anthropologist), but the main focus is normally the relationships between the main characters, the dynamic of the unusual workplace that is the lab, and the bizarre circumstances surrounding the cases themselves. Even though the material is heavily researched, the solutions often-times seem a bit too easy for me. They rely less on Angela’s “magic holographic reconstruction Deus Ex Machina” machine here than in previous seasons, but are still restricted by the running time and are frequently forced to wrap things up with a convenient bow. Nevertheless, there’s warmth here (flying in the face of the clinical/science settings) and character development and camaraderie that you won’t get in a fellow procedural like say, Law and Order.
What IS going on with the characters? Booth and Bones are still attending sessions with Sweets (Freaks and Geeks’ baby-faced John Francis Daley), and Hodgins and Angela are still on the outs. There are some additions to the cast this year though. Cam adopts a daughter while new interns vie for a permanent spot at the Institute and Booth’s brother pops in for a visit. Also, a new female FBI agent takes over while Booth is a suspect in an ep and then incapacitated for a few more. Love triangle? We delve deeper into Booth’s troubled past/psyche (he seems to be more the focus this year instead of Bones’ estranged fugitive family) and Angela is outed as a bi-sexual (I’m again reminded of Whedon). Skeletons in the closet? Finally, Stormtroopers, Mötley Crüe, Family Guy’s Stewie Griffin, and a Japanese gynandromorph all guest star. And the finale is a WTFer, dear “Bone-rs” (or whatever you call yourselves).
I’m a fan. My wife’s a fan. It’s Whedon-lite in banter and manages to keep the “will they? won’t they? should they?” chestnut/carrot fresh and dangling. Plus, they get away with some fairly graphic and interesting bodily remains for primetime tv. I had a ball with “Double Trouble in the Panhandle”, where Booth and Bones go undercover as a Russian knife-throwing act, so they can infiltrate a circus run by Andy Richter and a dwarf to investigate the mysterious death/s of Siamese twin performers. The shows range from humorous to introspective to giallo and they have managed to keep my interest thus far, warts and all.
HOWEVER… Due to the Writer’s Strike that plagued Season 3’s fumbled post-hiatus Gormogon episodes (a MAJOR plotline was heavily truncated and thusly shortchanged), I’m still left with that dissatisfaction in my mouth, tainting this following season. I don’t want to get too spoilery (why are you reading this review if you haven’t seen 1-3?), but intern Zach (one of my favorite characters) was removed from the main cast and replaced by a revolving door of new interns. As each temp (all played by a fun string of actors) has a distinct set of foibles, they bounce off the leads in very different ways, so the show-runners have been able to keep the lab dynamic interesting, thankfully, and they do have dear Zach guest star here and there. But there’s still a huge Zach-sized hole in the series IMO… sniff.
Season 4 did the best it could to recover post-3, I suppose.
Cover’s cute, but what the heck is a “Body Bag Edition”? Not a meta-commentary on the DVD contents I hope. But on that subject… The Writer’s Strike also managed to screw up the amount of material here on this set as well. The first four episodes including the 2-part opener from this season were included as padding on the previous (and shorter) Season 3 DVD release. BUT NOT HERE WITH THE SEASON IN WHICH THEY BELONGED. So you only get 22 of the 26 episodes. The Bluray has ‘em all. Why not the DVD, Fox? You short-changed me with Season 3’s arc wrap-up, now you short-change my Season 4 set. My wife loooooves gag reels, so you pleased her at least.