And Now For Something Incredibly Importantly Serious

So I'm watching Fox's new Monday night line-up, and on comes the first episode of its much talked about/advertised new series, "Bones." Actually I had decided to Tivo it, being a fan of David Boreanaz (Angel from the Buffy/Angel universe), and also of crime-meets-science dramas. The show looked promising and I was told it got good reviews from T.V. Guide. It's about a talented (and strangely attractive) forensic anthropologist who teams up with an FBI agent (David Boreanaz) to solve crimes where the only real evidence to go on is human bones. Its kind of like CSI meets Cold Case with more attractive main characters (or so it appeared). To put it more simply it's Fox's stab at the forensic-fiction/CSI audience.

Here is their official rundown of the show:

Bones

From executive producers Barry Josephson (“Hide and Seek,” “Like Mike”) and Hart Hanson (“Joan of Arcadia,” “Judging Amy”) comes the darkly amusing drama BONES, inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs. Forensic anthropologist DR. TEMPERANCE BRENNAN (Emily Deschanel, “Boogeyman”), who works at the Jeffersonian Institution and writes novels as a sideline, has an uncanny ability to read clues left behind in a victim’s bones. Consequently, law enforcement calls her in to assist with murder investigations when the remains are so badly decomposed, burned or destroyed that the standard identification methods are useless. Brennan’s equally brilliant colleagues at the Jeffersonian’s Medico-Legal Lab include earthy and bawdy ANGELA MONTENEGRO (Michaela Conlin, “The D.A.”), who’s created a unique way to render an original crime scene in a three-dimensional computer image; Brennan’s assistant, ZACK ADDY (Eric Millegan), a young prodigy whose genius IQ actually gets in the way of his finishing the several doctorates he has begun; “the bug guy,” DR. JACK HODGINS (TJ Thyne, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”), who’s an expert on insects, spores and minerals, but conspiracy is his hobby; and Brennan’s boss, imposing lab director DR. DANIEL GOODMAN (Jonathan Adams, “American Dreams”). Brennan often finds herself teamed with Special Agent SEELEY BOOTH (David Boreanaz, “Angel”), a former Army sniper who mistrusts science and scientists when it comes to solving crimes. Brennan and Booth clash both professionally and personally, but so far the chemistry between them has only played out in a fictionalized account in Brennan’s latest mystery novel.

One of the premises of the story was that said FBI agent, Seeley Booth, regretted all those people he killed as a sniper and wanted to catch as many murderers as people he had killed... (does this sound familiar to anyone). Add to this the fact that the title character Dr. Temperance Brennan, happens to be exceptionally good at Karate because she was orphaned at 15 and had to learn to defend herself. As a result of this teenage trauma she has trouble connecting to people, and "letting people in" and consequently prefers to be around dead people ::cough:: ::cough..Buffy.. eh rrrmm:: instead of the living.

Unlike in CSI, where no one is shocked or surprised that a forensic scientist, aka crime scene investigator, can figure out whether a murderer is left handed or right handed by the angle of the wounds he inflicts, Seeley Booth, the FBI Agent in "Bones" is constantly awed and referring to Dr. Brennan as a genius for her uncanny ability to do her job. Perhaps its not so unbelievable to see the FBI (even a fictionalized one) elevate basic reasoning skills to a superhuman ability, but its hard to have much patience for that when every other crime drama on television treats science and deductive reasoning as a mundane and perfectly ordinary part of their universe.

Ultimately the show was a bit of a disappointment - probably because I expected it to be an actual drama whereas this had all the depth of a summer comic-book movie (think Fantastic 4 and Dare Devil). Though admittedly I am fond of hot characters that can kick ass, the forensic-anthropologist-by-day-crime-fighter-by-night-motif doesn't bode well for long term character development especially in a real-world-oriented setting. Deep down this show appears to be nothing more than a shallow recreation of Angel/Buffy without the supervillians, supernatural, and super talent of Joss Whedon.

It just goes to show that if you don't cancel your good shows (Firefly, Angel, John Doe) you won't have to replace them with crappy ones. Its possible that the fluffy, shallow, comic-book-iness of "Bones" will evolve into some real depth, and fascinating drama in future episodes. However if the pilot is any indication that is doubtful. I'm certainly not dedicating any more of my precious Tivo memory to it.

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