Them Bones

One of my favorite types of TV programs is the solving-a-mystery-while-being-funny genre, shows like Castle and Psych. Recently, I discovered a not-so-new entry in this genre which is perhaps the best one I’ve run across, Bones.

The premise of Bones is that the world’s foremost forensic anthropologist, Dr. Temperance Brennan, helps the FBI solve murders through the examination of victims’ bones. Brilliant but sadly lacking in social skills and tact, Dr. Brennan, or Bones as she’s called by her FBI agent partner Seeley Booth, finds clues in the most unlikely places. Small scrapes on a rib or an indentation on a femur can indicate murder weapon, time of death or even a murderer’s identity. The other members of her team specialize in flesh, bugs and facial reconstruction among other things, each specialist hovering loftily at the top of their field.

A sad fact of television mysteries is that the “rules” of mystery telling and constraints in time often make it obvious who perpetrated a murder. I generally can identify a TV murderer by how they’re introduced or whether suspicion is cast on them. There’s no need to pay attention to the investigation to solve the case. One of the beauties of Bones is that it’s not so strongly bound by these conventions. Sometimes the killer is a newer character who we don’t meet until late in the episode. Other times storylines take abrupt turns that could not be anticipated. The writing is a cut or four above most procedurals.

Now perhaps you don’t care about murder solutions or quality of writing, but you are a fan of gore. Wellsir, Bones is the show for you! Because Dr. Brennan specializes in bones rather than the meat portion of bodies, she’s only called in on cases where the victim’s body has deteriorated significantly. This leads to liquification, intense maggot activity, limb detachment, exploding abdomens and so on. In other words, the bodies are waaaaaay gross. I can only imagine that the visual effects people had a field day working on this show.

Over the 12-year run of the show, characters become more than just coworkers. Of course there’s the usual everyone-dates-everyone-else nonsense, but these people have intense loyalty and affection for one other. At the core of it all is the deeply profound partnership between Booth and Bones. Booth is a man of intuition, a specialist in reading people and a devout Catholic. Bones relies on evidence, does not make assumptions, disdains psychology and is a card-carrying atheist. Other members of the team bring a wide variety of philosophies, personality traits and socio-economic backgrounds. But above all, each team member respects and cares for the other members of their team/family.

If you’re looking for humorous, unpredictable and gory mysteries, look no further. And with 12 seasons to choose from you’re guaranteed over 200 hours of viewing bliss! So lean back in the recliner, pop the tab on a fresh kombucha and prepare to be entertained.