Now in its seventh season, Bones has settled into a formula that’s cozily familiar, which sounds like a polite way of saying if you’re not a fan by now, you’re not likely to become a convert. But is that really true? With a pregnancy and a new recurring character, the David Boreanaz-Emily Deschanel vehicle is actually offering the opportunity for anyone curious to join the series with a minimal amount of how-will-I-ever-catch-up? anxiety.
Not that Bones was ever mythology-deep; we’re not talking Lost or even How I Met Your Mother here. A clever splicing of the forensic-mystery and rom-com genres, Bones — which is based on the life of novelist Kathy Reichs — is constructed around the chemistry between Deschanel’s Dr. Temperance ”Bones” Brennan and Boreanaz’s FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. At its most ambitious, in its first season, the show attempted to cross well-crafted murder mysteries with Howard Hawks’ 1938 Cary Grant-Katharine Hepburn screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby. But Bones eventually became something more simple: a show with two very appealing stars, flanked by good actors in tiresomely repetitive roles, with mystery plots that aren’t quite knotty enough to engage me in untying them. It’s a testament to Deschanel’s innate charm and skill that she can continue to sell Bones’ salient trait — delivering ordinary sentiments reworded as stiff, formal oratory.
Thus in the season premiere, Bones had an abrupt crying jag while examining the corpse-of-the-week. She explained it as ”merely experiencing emotional inconsistencies due to hormones secreted during pregnancy.” In the second episode, she bluntly informed Booth, ”I want to have intercourse.” If it weren’t Deschanel reciting these lines with quick efficiency, they’d be inert groaners. Boreanaz is equally up to the challenge of overcoming script predictabilities. He plays Booth with an offhand casualness that never comes across as lazy — he’s found the middle ground between Dean Martin and George Clooney, and works that territory well.
Bones is going to air six episodes and then go on hiatus for Deschanel’s real-life pregnancy. When it returns in the spring, I’ll be curious to see her play Bones as a new mother. And Luke Kleintank, as Southern good ol’ boy-genius Finn Abernathy, who made his debut in the second episode, is a welcome addition. Finn doesn’t (yet) partake of the easy irony and cheesy wisecracks rife among the lab inhabitants surrounding Bones, which makes his scenes with Deschanel playful pleasures. The contrast between Bones’ robot-speak and Finn’s backwoods palaver (”somethin’ here as odd as my cousin Bobby”) gives the aging series a fresh dynamic. B