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"Bones" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 09/21/2005



ObrazekI still miss “Angel.”  The vampire with a soul was the last scrap of the remnants of one of my favorite TV shows, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”  Now that the actor who played Angel, David Boreanaz, has moved on, I was hoping that his next project would be at least half as good as “Angel.”  FOX’s “Bones” is at least half of that.

Boreanaz plays Special Agent Seeley Booth, a former Army sniper turned FBI agent from the Homicide Investigations Unit department in Washington D.C. who is wary of science, preferring to rely on his gut instinct.  He calls scientists “squints” (because they squint at evidence), and he doesn’t trust them in the field.  Unfortunately, he is paired with Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a highly skilled forensic anthropologist who works at the Jeffersonian Institution and writes novels, including her new book Bred and the Bone, as a secondary.  She is an expert martial artist as well.  She is called in whenever the usual methods of identifying a body are ineffective during a murder investigation.  She hates psychology because she was orphaned at 15, which led her to have no people skills and to be cold and distant with anyone she is close to.  She isn’t too familiar with popular culture either, so whenever someone makes a reference to her to illustrate a point, it goes over her head.  Brennan has to rely on Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), a forensic artist and Brennan’s best friend.  Angela has created a computer program that she calls the Angelator that can provide the original crime scene in three-dimensional images.  The rest of Brennan’s team from Jeffersonian’s Medico-Legal Lab are:  Brennan’s assistant, Zack Addy (Eric Millegan), whose genius IQ actually gets in the way of his completing the several doctorates he’s started; and entomologist Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), “the bug guy” who specializes in insects, but also likes conspiracies.  They work for Dr. Daniel Goodman (Jonathan Adams), who loans out Brennan and her team’s services to the FBI.  Brennan and Booth aren’t crazy about each other (Booth nicknames her “Bones”) because they didn’t have a good experience the last time that they worked together.  Now they have to work together again, because she has been assigned to do more cases in the field.

In the pilot episode, Brennan has just come home from a two-month trip in Guatemala where she was identifying victims of genocide when an officer from Homeland Security (Dave Roberson) stops her in the airport.  She and the officer get in a little scuffle, and she is detained.  Booth arrives and takes her to Arlington National Cemetery, where she identifies the bones of a young woman who possibly played tennis.  She spends all night reassembling the skull.  The next day, Booth argues with his boss, FBI Deputy Director Sam Cullen (John M. Jackson), that he needs Brennan’s help in the case, and that he promised her field role in an active investigation, which Cullen reluctantly agrees to, as long as Booth keeps an eye on her.  Meanwhile, Brennan is having an argument herself.  Her recently dumped boyfriend, Peter St. James (Dominic Fumusa), wants his TV back.  Back at the lab, Angela uses the Angelator to identify Cleo Louise Eller (Naja Hill), a half-black girl who was rumored to be having an affair with a senator named Bethlehem (Larry Poindexter) two years ago and had disappeared afterwards.  Brennan wants to confront Bethlehem, but Booth points out two other possible suspects.  Cleo’s boyfriend, Ken Thompson (Sam Trammell), an aide for the senator who didn’t like Cleo working in his office; and Oliver Laurier (Chris Conner), a speechwriter who had been stalking Cleo.  Brennan blackmails Booth with a press conference releasing Cleo’s name unless he agrees to have her join him in the field.  They inform Cleo’s parents, Ted (Tyress Allen) and Sharon (Bonita Friedericy), that their daughter is dead.  Hodgins discovered that Cleo was killed by a sledgehammer covered in diatomaceous earth and stab wounds from a knife, was taking medicine for depression, and that she was pregnant.  Brennan confronts Bethlehem behind Booth’s back, and Booth is taken off the case.  Brennan and her team go ahead with the investigation, and they discover that Thompson killed Cleo because he felt that her affair with Bethlehem would get in the way of his own career plans.

In the second episode, Brennan and Booth, along with Special Agent Bennett Gibson (Dave Roberson), investigate a Middle Eastern man named Hamid Masruk (Said Faraj) whose SUV blows up in front of a café.  He was a consultant from the Arab-American Friendship League (AAFL) who regularly advised the President, but he died with some strange lesions on his face.  His brother Farid (Nicholas Massouh) and Hamid’s wife Sahar (Bahar Soomekh) both insist that Hamid was not a terrorist.  His lesions are a genetic defect that he shares with Farid.  After reconstructing the skeleton, she is convinced that the bones found are that of Hamid, and that he was the bomber.  She assigns Zack to reconstruct the skull while she gives the results to Booth.  When she gets to Booth’s place, she meets his girlfriend, an attorney named Tessa Jankow (Anne Dudek.)  Special Agent in Charge Mickey Santana (José Zúñiga) tells Brennan and Booth that ballistics came in and that the bomb was planted under the car and was connected to the odometer, which was set off remotely.  It seems that Hamid was set up, so it was a murder.  Booth and Angela both suspect that Sahar was having an affair, which Brennan disagrees with.  Farid confirms that she was having an affair, with a man from the AAFL named Ali Ladjavardi (Federico Dordei.)  When they question Ali, Santana tells them that Ali was a FBI mole, and that he doesn’t want his cover blown.  Zack completes his reconstruction of the skull, and Brennan surmises that Hamid was exposed to a toxin, which made his skull soft.  Hodgins find traces of dioxin after dissecting the beetles that ate Hamid’s flesh (the beetles were used to clean the bones.)  Brennan figures out that Hamid and Farid were exposed to the dioxin four months ago, and a search of Farid’s place confirms that Farid was a terrorist posing as a Christian.  Farid killed Hamid to shut him up, and now he has planted another bomb.  They track Farid to the Hamilton Cultural Center, where a peace conference is going on.  Booth shoots and kills Farid before he can blow anything up, and Booth is upset about it afterwards.

Inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs, the show plays out like a typical procedural drama.  Fortunately, Boreanaz and Deschanel (sister of actress Zooey Deschanel) have good chemistry, and series creator Hart Hanson has written some witty dialogue.  It is an odd coincidence though that Booth figures he has to set his karmic balance from previously having killed people as a sniper to saving people as an agent, just as Angel had to atone for killing people when he was Angelus.

I liked Angela’s toys that she worked with.  The hologram program is a unique tool that should make some episodes interesting.  I don’t know whether or not there is a real forensic hologram program, but I wonder if Gil Grissom and his “C.S.I.” team could use it.

I know that “Bones” is not as good as “Angel,” but Boreanaz’s charm should make it interesting.  I’m a little disappointed that he hasn’t displayed much of his butt-kicking skills (it seems like Deschanel is doing most of that), and there is a spark of sexual tension that will either hurt or harm this show once they obviously hook up.  Make no bones about it though…this isn’t a bad show.