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Primetime Show Reviews
Nadine Matthews 9/11/05
Starring: David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel
Tuesdays at 8 PM premiering on September 13th.
David Boreanaz certainly does not disappoint in his new vehicle “Bones”. Although I expected him to be good, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much he has grown as an actor in the brief time since leaving “Angel”. His character, Seeley Booth, is the best thing about this very good show. A throwback to the gumshoe detectives of a bygone era, Seeley symbolizes a type of modern classicism. Yet Boreanaz steers clear of making the character into a simple caricature. He imbues Seeley with a great deal of depth in a show that could very easily veer over to sheer superficiality. He strikes just the right balance between a man who approaches his job as an FBI agent with steely respect while keeping a firm grasp on his humanity. Boreanaz allows his character to be feel pain and sadness without being maudlin.
Deschanel and her character, Temperance, is a somewhat different story. Her character is a bit overwritten and does not yet have the type of subtlety that makes a viewer love a character. There was much too much exposition in terms of Temperance’s back story. The audience likes to know a character but they don’t want to know everything about that character the first time they meet him or her. Deschanel, especially in the first half of the show, seemed too much like the novice actor that she is. This is most likely due to the fact that there was just so very much for her to do. She had two different scenes in which she beat up a male character, get in a confrontation with her ex-boyfriend (who she almost beats up), show us that she still grieves for her long-gone parents, continually verbally spar with Seeley, shoot a man, and solve a case while all the rest of this was going on. Whew! It was too much for her to do and it often showed. She did, however, have some good moments where she achieved the necessary balance to pull off what she needed to. But she has a lot of catching up to do. The character, Temperance, though, is basically a likeable character and Deschanel has the potential to connect more deeply with the audience. She possesses an “everywoman” quality that many of us can tap into. The character as written is a lot more vulnerable than the promo ads and articles would have us believe. Also, there is an upside to the fact that there is so much going on. Although it hobbles Deschanel a bit, the situations presented gives the viewer a plethora of chances to connect with the show and to relate what is going on with what is happening in their own lives.
In Deschanel’s defense though, we have to keep in mind that what I saw was a pilot episode which was meant to be a sales presentation as well as an episode of a series. They had to pile everything on in order to convince the network that the show had a lot going for it and was worth picking up. In fact, shows often never air the pilots at all. It’s more likely than not, that things will go at a more even pace in subsequent episodes.
Other than the two leads, the show also has an attractive, likeable, and funny supporting cast of characters who deliver their lines with verve. They have wonderful chemistry with each other, and with the leads. The show is also beautifully shot. In
my interview with David, he mentioned that it was shot as a movie and it certainly does have that feel to it. The photography is top notch. There is one brief location shot of the beltway (the show is set in Washington D.C.) that is breathtaking. The soundtrack is also tough to beat. In fact, sometimes it is so good, it threatens to divert the viewer’s attention from the scene it accompanies. The show also displays a streak of ingenuity by introducing the TV world to a machine called the angillator.
Although I don’t believe it is something that exists in the real world, it
represents a refreshing departure from the usual flashbacks so common in
procedural dramas. It is a machine that uses the inputted facts from the crime
scene and skeletal measurements and generates a three-dimensional image of the
victim and scenario of how the crime may have taken place. As Temperance said,
“It is a logical recreation of events based on facts”. Visit
here to see it in action. The writing is also solid. The pilot was penned by Hart Hanson (also the show’s creator). The same warmth and intelligence of his past shows (“Joan of Arcadia” and “Judging Amy”) are in evidence here as well. Little nuggets of food for thought are gently slipped into the mix of mystery, action, and comedy. For instance, at one point Temperance and Seeley argue about just how much pain the victim’s parents need to know she experienced before she died. One thought they should be brutally honest and let them know she went through hell before dying. The other thought they should be told she died quickly. They don’t beat the viewer over the head with “issues”, but they show that they are writing for living, breathing, thinking, people. This is not to say that there are no faults or inconsistencies though. For one thing, Temperance is written as someone so consumed by her work and removed from normal life that she has trouble connecting to people. She is so socially and culturally challenged in fact, she has no clue who Mulder and Scully are. However, she not only knows what a “booty call” is, she uses the phrase in a conversation with her ex-boyfriend. Well, is she aware of pop-culture or isn’t she? She also has a heart to heart talk with one of her colleagues, so how distant and unable to be vulnerable is she? We are also supposed to believe that this “genius” cannot figure out a motive for a crime she has just solved with only a skeleton to go on as evidence. The writers need to do some more work in terms of making the character more emotionally consistent. Because the character is also pretty young, I think they need to have a mentor/father figure for her; someone who will be an integral part of the show’s canvas. The character of Dr. Daniel Goodman has the potential to be that mentor. These faults and inconsistencies too may be due to the fact that it is the pilot episode.
Overall, though, I say that though this show has a lot of kinks that need to be worked out, it is absolutely worth watching. It’s got style, substance, warmth, action, ingenuity, great music, and great photography. It’s been chosen as a “TV Guide Favorite” in its Fall 2005 preview issue. It’s got David Boreanaz for goodness sake! Check it out on Tuesday nights on Fox starting September 13th.
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