“I’d laugh, but I’m afraid of driving off the road.”
For six seasons, the crew of The Jeffersonian Institute has been catching bad guys while employing a dark sense of humor and witty interplay. While the second half of Season Six is some of the series’ best work — production design, writing, acting, you name it — the first half has a definite “jumped the shark” feel to it. It’s uneven enough that perhaps only the most die-hard fans will stick around for what we already know will be an abbreviated Season Seven.
Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel, My Sister’s Keeper), forensic anthropologist extraordinaire, teams up with FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, Angel) to solve crimes. I want to do this without spoilers but I can’t, so here’s your warning. I won’t give away the season finale, but I will go into a detailed discussion of the first half of the season with hints at everything that follows.
Sexual tension has been a hallmark of this show since the beginning. Sadly, it’s an engine that may have finally lost its “will-they-or-won’t-they” steam. What’s at the heart of Bones’ hesitancy to embark on a romantic relationship with Booth?
Fear of abandonment.
And she has every reason to remain firmly entrenched in this deeply rooted issue. Every person she’s ever known and loved has left — her mother, her father, and her brother, the latter two re-entering and re-abandoning her several times along the way. What does Bones need to become convinced that a relationship with Booth will work? Time.
So what do the writers do? Not only do they separate the two, but they have Booth fall in love with someone else, in less than six months, just to grind salt in the wound and prove that Booth’s feelings are as ephemeral as can be.
Now, before I get all sorts of email about my hatred of Hannah (Katheryn Winnick, Killers) allow me to clarify. I don’t have a problem with Booth falling for someone else. I’m not a die-hard Booth/Bones ‘shipper, but if it’s going to happen it needs to happen organically.
And that right there is the problem with Bones: The Complete Sixth Season in a nutshell. The first half of the season is mired by inorganic happenings, starting with the season premiere. The gang’s been separated since the Season Five finale and fans were a-twitter wondering what the characters had been up to and what was going to bring them back together.
Was I the only one going “WTF?!” upon learning they were all coming back to the Jeffersonian because Cam (Tamara Taylor, Diary of a Mad Black Woman) can’t do her job?
It’s a betrayal of Cam’s character, for starters, and just an unimaginative solution in general. Here’s an organic one: Angela (Michaela Conlin, The Lincoln Lawyer) having a baby. By making it personal, the team reasserts their bond of loyalty to each other. After all, one of the strengths of Bones is that all of the characters have their lives delved into and share them with one another, creating a family of sorts. So such an inorganic excuse to reunite is a major chance lost to reaffirm their familial bond.
I hate Hannah. Every scene with her left me cold, and more often than not thinking “What a @%$&*!” Simply put, her character was forced where she didn’t need to be. Hannah consistently took advantage of Temperance’s naïveté about relationships, in order to use that knowledge of Booth to further her own relationship with him. Trying to convince the audience she could easily fall into this group of characters and be friends with them was ludicrous.
But I understand why the writers did it. It’s hard to keep the “will-they-or-won’t-they” thing alive; once you’ve answered the question, it’s even harder to keep the interest going. However, the whole scenario of Booth falling for someone else could have happened much more organically and provided a really intriguing arc for the season.
That said, the latter half of Season Six is wonderful, due entirely to the organic nature of unfolding events — with the exception of “The Finder” — yeesh. The season finale came as a shock to many, but not if you take a step back and look at it in terms of who these characters really are. When Season Six ends, there’s a wonderful sense of “Where are they going from here?” However, I predict a lot of whining in Season Seven. The damage of the first half means the writers have found a way to keep the “will-they-or-won’t-they” train going, but I fear it’s a patch job at best.
In terms of presentation, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers are really clear and crisp, with a special nod to the lighting department who had their share of challenges this season. All the levels are consistent, there’s only ever a bit of grain, and no compression artifacts. The Dolby 5.1 audio does a good job of holding the balance between dialogue and music, especially the underscore heard each week. Bones prides itself on making sure the dialogue can always be heard, and it’s definitely something I notice and appreciate.
Bonus features on this set include an amusing gag reel, an informative set of featurettes highlighting the visual effects as well as the breakdown of one of the episodes, which incidentally also features a commentary track by stars Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. There’s another episode commentary by the show creator Hart Hanson, one of the directors, as and an executive producer. My favorite special features are the extended episodes. There are only a couple, but if I have to choose between deleted scenes and extended episodes the latter is my preferred option. Fox also includes the pilot episode for the critically acclaimed AMC series The Killing.
The writing staff over at Bones should do themselves a favor and watch Castle. It serves as the epitome of keeping viewers guessing and happy about the dance their two protagonists are doing. Every roadblock, hurdle, and mountain climbed has come about organically, and Season Six needed a huge dose of that to make me happy. As far as a recommendation? The show streams online and plays in syndication, so a purchase isn’t necessary. However, if you’re a collector, go Blu-ray. This is one show where the more detail you can see the better.