Why I’ve put off watching the season premiere of Bones…

…but will tonight, and I’ll let you know what I think.

Ages ago, when I was a young, impressionable maiden (no, really, I was), I got hooked on Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels.  The first one was Postmortem, and I ate that series up.  This was before the emergence of shows like CSI or Body of Proof and the whole forensic science aspect was new and fascinating to me.  I loved the science, the mystery, the chemistry of the characters. In short, I’ve been a lover of the forensic science mystery for a long time.

When CSI premiered, I checked it out, and I liked it.  After a while, though, it got repetitive, and I lost interest.  While the premise was interesting, it wasn’t as character-driven as I usually liked in a TV drama.  However, when Bones premiered in 2005, I jumped on it like a mouse on cheese.  Here was a drama with two strong leads (One of whom was David Boreanaz, hello.) a twist on a premise I loved (Forensic anthropology? Awesome!) and a great supporting cast.

From the beginning, series creator, Hart Hanson, talked about how it was a character-driven show, a show about relationships, not just another police procedural. And it was. It had great mysteries, but it had great character dynamics, too.

I immediately loved Emily Deschanel’s take on Dr. Temperance Brennan.  What a fabulous character! Here was a smart woman who had so much going for her, but still had a lot of personal challenges, in part, because of her intellect.  She was socially awkward.  She didn’t have it all together.  She was abrasive and insensitive, but honest and exuberant.  Plus, she was a writer! I loved her.

And I loved Seeley Booth!  Here was an alpha male character with a well of sensitivity, intelligence, and great instincts.  He was openly Catholic, and it was portrayed in a positive light.  A single dad and a vet, Booth was a believably flawed hero and the perfect counterpoint to his brilliant partner.

The relationship the actors and the show’s writers built over the first three seasons was amazing.  Booth and Brennan were biting and witty, real partners whose differences complimented each other, even as they grated on each other.  The writing was smart and humorous.  The supporting cast was fantastic (Hodgins and Angela? Best odd couple, ever.  “King of the Lab?” Okay, T.J. Thyne is obviously a favorite.) Season two had some of my favorite episodes of television, ever. (“Judas on a Pole” “Stargazer in a Puddle” “Aliens in a Spaceship” GAH!)  I thought the show really hit its stride.

Season four continued the streak for me, despite the loss of Zack, and while some viewers were annoyed with the strange finale (the alternate reality episode), I really enjoyed it, and I felt like it led to some of season five’s best acting from Boreanaz.  The show had me.  I watched it every week.  Couldn’t wait for the episodes to air.

Like so many other shows, a lot of the appeal of Bones is the “will they or won’t they” aspect of Brennan and Booth’s relationship.  Unlike a lot of other shows, you had two characters that, while they grew closer over the years, clearly still had very different views of life and lot farther to go personally before a happily ever after was even in sight.  Season five had amazing acting.  Amazing relationship dynamics. Amazing progression.

And then the season finale happened.

They all but declared their love. (Heck, Booth did declare his love.) There was emotional breakthrough.  Confession! Passion! Tension!  And then…they all went their separate ways for a year with nothing resolved?

It felt like a chicken-shit move, to be honest.  The writers brought Brennan and Booth right to the edge.  They were there.  It wasn’t peaceful.  It wasn’t any sort of resolution, but for both characters, the next logical step would be to take the chance.  Maybe it wouldn’t work at first.  Maybe they would break up.  I would have bought either of those scenarios.  In a million years, I would never buy these characters having a peaceful, picket-fence happily ever after.

Sadly, the creators seemed to decide that viewers were only showing up to see “will they or won’t they.”  When the characters all went their separate ways for a year, it felt like a big “suck it, you’re only showing up for the titillation” to me.

And they lost me.

Sure, I watched last season, but I was never very drawn to it.  I liked a lot of the story lines.  The acting was still good.  I liked delving more into Booth’s history.  It was there, but I was so turned off by the season-ending ploy that I just didn’t watch as avidly as I used to.  Brennan and Booth’s relationship seemed contrived.  Honestly, when the “big secret” reveal happened in the season finale, I was kind of…meh about it.

Bones Crew, I’m giving it one more season.  I’m watching the premiere tonight on Hulu and I’ll let you know what I think.  I hope you can draw me back in, because once upon a time, I really loved this show.  But here’s a tip: you could have ignored the “prevailing wisdom” that said the two leads getting together would be the death of the show’s chemistry.  Maybe it would be if you had more typical characters, but Booth and Brennan weren’t typical characters, and you should have given them a chance.  I think they could have pulled it off.  And next time, give your audience a little credit, too.  I’m back (finally) and I’m watching.  For now.

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  1. I think I stopped watching Bones at the beginning of Season 5. I got busy with other stuff, blah, blah, blah. I saw previews for the next season and the Booth-Bones romance or lack thereof really turned me off from watching. I think I’m gonna go back but I haven’t been motivated.

  2. The early Patricia Cornwell books were mesmerising. I can still remember going to the bookstore to pick up some reads for a two week beach holiday. I bought the first three books & packed them in my case. Two weeks later I’d read all 3 and so had my two friends. We were all blown away and completely hooked. I was always eager for the next book to come along and bought all the hardbacks and read them straight away.
    Her more recent books have been very hit and miss for me – she’s lost the sparkle she had. When she ‘killed off’ Benton I was crying. When she brought him back I was joyous. She was that powerful a writer. I’m sad she’s lost that X factor she had. The last one I read all I could remember was the incessant and numerous details on the workings of helicopters.
    Temperance is based on Kathy Reich’s character from her series. She seems to have developed the same death-spiral as Cornwell though [for me].
    Still, taken as volumes of work in an overall context both writers [and especially Cornwell] have contributed enormously to my reading enjoyment and I’m sure they paved the way for series like CSI.
    Never seen Bones but you make me curious now:D

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