Three episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
Let’s be honest: Not too many live action shows have lasted for longer than a handful of seasons on Fox (just ask The Finder). But those that have are among the most hallowed in the annals of television history. So I find hit highly befitting that Bones join the pantheon of such heavyweights as Married… With Children, The X-Files, 24 and House.
Over the course of the past few decades, it seems like a billion police procedurals have come and gone. What allowed Bones in particular to rise above the rest was not only concocting riveting mysteries each week to enthrall millions of viewers, it was also its reliance on presenting sound scientific investigation to the masses in stylish fashion, and its ability to craft characters that the audience actually cares about. Aside from perhaps Law & Order: SVU and NCIS, I’m not sure if a show of this ilk captured the hearts of so many in recent memory.
Although ratings have declined a bit in recent years, which is something to be expected of many long-running series, the network is still allowing the show to go out in style, albeit with a bit of a curtailed season that will amount to 12 episodes. And, amazingly enough, Hart Hanson’s baby hasn’t lost a step.
Admittedly, I became a bit disgruntled with certain aspects of Bones around the fifth or sixth season. Yes, the aforementioned focus on character was a strength – to a point. Taking on an almost soap opera-like quality, it began to place a bit too much emphasis on who’s dating whom and, although the current season dials it back and finds a decent balance, it’s still a “shipper’s” dream. I mean, who would’ve thought interoffice romance would be so prevalent at the Jeffersonian? But, then again, when taking into account that so many good-looking scientists are under one roof, I may have just answered my own question.
What I really enjoyed about the premiere was that the producers brought things full circle, which increases expectations for the finale. Picking up from the moment season 11 left off (no time jumps here), we’re thrust right into an edge-of-your-seat reunion between a returning Zack (Eric Millegan) and Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). Things get a bit uncomfortable between the two and we swiftly find out that Zack is, in fact, not the serial killer the team has been chasing recently.
Yes, that revelation was a bit frustrating at first. The possibility of one of the original members of the principal cast coming back to go on a killing spree would have been a stroke of genius, but the creative minds managed to craft a compelling, highly emotionally evocative story that’s wrapped up in the opening episode. Some of the twists and turns were formulaic, but the reveal of the true murderer came as an unexpected surprise.
All throughout the premiere, we’re given a vintage example of when Bones presents itself as a nailbiter. Deschanel herself directed this installment and unlike co-star David Boreanaz (inhabiting the role of Seeley Booth), who directed the season 11 finale and utilized film noir techniques, she relies more on the creation of tension filled scenes, each of which seamlessly segue into one another. Suffice it to say, it allows the musical score to practically write itself.
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Along the way, the impeccable chemistry of the cast exponentially helps in making this something more than a one trick pony. Even the guest stars shine, especially Sara Rue, who when I come to think about it, may be one of the best female chameleons in Hollywood right now.
Having seen the following two episodes and not wanting to spoil much, I will say that a comfort zone of sorts is quickly nestled into, which is good or bad, depending on whom you ask. If you love Bones and have stuck around for the twelve-year ride, you’ll probably be as geeked as ever. But if you find a status quo that hasn’t been altered all that much in that time to be less than fresh, you probably won’t be as ecstatic.
As the season progresses beyond the premiere, things do lighten up a bit. Rest assured that charm and humor are there in spades; I couldn’t help but laugh out loud on several occasions. Some instances were meant to be intentional (the charisma and sharp delivery of TJ Thyne immediately come to mind) and others were unintentional (I’m pretty sure a human was inside that robot).
A minor gripe I do have though as to do with the reveal of the killers. The one in the second episode is rather unexpected, but the execution’s too quick, making it feel like it’s not even the most important thing going on in that offering. As for the third, you could see the solution coming from a mile away, but it’s pulled off beautifully. Perhaps this is a bit subjective, but I felt the journey to be more satisfying than the destination.
In the end, Bones never once strays from what makes it what it is. To boast that level of integrity after a dozen years is quite rare and speaks volumes of the cast and crew. Some shows go out with a bang (Smallville), while others hang on so desperately after their time came and went that they bear little resemblance to the original product (Two and a Half Men). Unless this thing unexpectedly goes off the rails in its final stretch, we’ll surely be treated to one for the books.
The final chapter of Bones is both riveting and charming. Every fan be they devoted, lapsed, or even new, owe it to themselves to see this through to the end.