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TV Series Review

Stock skeleton warning: The content in Bones, as with most procedurals, can vary widely from week to week. What you saw last week isn't necessarily what you'll see to-marrow.

Dr. Temperance Brennan is a brilliant, attractive forensic anthropologist skilled at reading bones and other human remains. Dealing with living, breathing people, however, tends to give the good doctor a headache. While she's softened a bit since she married and had a baby with former Army sniper-turned-FBI agent Seeley Booth—forming a formidable partnership both on and off the clock—"Bones" is still most comfortable in the world of fibulas and metatarsals. And her cohorts at the Jefferson Institute wouldn't have it any other way. Together, they make up a Washington, D.C., forensic team to die for—and somebody always seems to be doing just that.

A Good Ribbing

Based on the best-selling books by Kathy Reichs, Bones is all about cadavers and conundrums that demand lab work, footwork and at least a little teamwork. But along with scientific insight and superhero-smart solutions, parts of this hour-long show challenge our ability to suspend disbelief.

For one thing, wunderkind Dr. Brennan is also a best-selling mystery novelist, a black belt in martial arts and a crack shot with a handgun. Given a little provocation, the socially shy PhD will borrow moves from Chuck Norris or Clint Eastwood, and somehow the authorities let her get away with it.

Then again, this is a procedural that, ironically, doesn't take itself deathly seriously. Those who have stuck with Bones throughout its decade-plus existence (we're in the 12th season as of this writing) have learned to go with the flow.

Spiritual themes rise to the surface more often than they do on, say, CBS' CSI shows, with Booth (a Catholic) and Bones (an atheist) occasionally bumping heads. But the result never strays too far from "approved for mainstream TV" territory, which is to say it's not designed to reinforce Christian faith or ideals.

Dem Wet, Dem Wet and Bloody Bones

Bones reaches out for viewers with well-developed characters and smartly written dialogue, especially for its leads, who bring to mind opposites-attract duos from The X-Files, Moonlighting and Cheers. But the real "draw" here are close-ups of people digging through decaying tissue, corpses being stripped by flesh-eating beetles, and a frozen pig getting tossed into a wood chipper, among many, many other things. While the show may feel in some ways "lighter" than some of its procedural pals over on CBS, the camera's certainly not shy about showing us all things dead.

"Eight o'clock seems too early for a show featuring long, loving shots of desiccated corpses, but network TV doesn't abide by many genteel rules or good manners anymore," said Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales. "Even adults may feel the director is way too generous with views of rotting remains."

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Bone: Jan. 30, 2017 "The Tutor in the Tussle"
Bones: 4-30-2012



Readability Age Range



Emily Deschanel as Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan; David Boreanaz as Special Agent Seeley Booth; Michaela Conlin as Angela Montenegro; T.J. Thyne as Dr. Jack Hodgins; Tamara Taylor as Dr. Camille Saroyan; John Francis Daley as Dr. Lance Sweets; Carla Gallo as Daisy Wick; Ryan O'Neal as Max Keenan






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