The showrunner of the new CBS crime procedural Instinct is apologizing to the creator of Fox’s Bones for a story line that bore some striking similarities to the long-running former hit series.
On Twitter Monday, Instinct producer Michael Rauch expressed regret to Bones, its fans, and its creator Hart Hanson after finding the situation “very distressing” albeit “unintentional.”
Here’s what happened: Based on author James Patterson’s Murder Games, Instinct stars Alan Cumming as a former CIA officer helping the NYPD solve crimes. The show’s third episode aired Sunday night titled “Secrets and Lies” (already the name of another TV show, btw). The story line was about the murder of an Amish teenager who moved to the big city. The detectives find popsicle sticks in the teen’s childhood bedroom. The feathers later remind the investigators of piano keys, and they realize he secretly played piano, and then they interview the victim’s piano teacher.
The Bones episode was from 2009 and titled “The Plain in the Prodigy.” It was also about the murder of a young Amish man who moved to the big city. In the kid’s room back in Amish country the detectives find a collection of rocks. They later realize the rocks look like piano keys and track down the victim’s piano teacher.
After that, the storylines seem to diverge. But the whole “Amish teen who goes off to the big city, secretly plays piano which the detectives discover through an assembly of objects in their childhood bedroom” setup struck some fans as too similar to be a coincidence:
It should be pointed out that these similarities do not prove Instinct intentionally copied Bones. There have been thousands of procedural crime drama episodes over the past few decades, and they tend to follow a similar structure. It’s more possible than you might think that two writers could have a very similar idea (or perhaps an Instinct writer saw the Bones episode years ago then forgot about where that idea came from).
UPDATE: Hanson replied by Twitter:
Another update: The Independent made a video comparing all the similarities. Even some of the dialogue is the same.
We’ll update this post if more information becomes available.