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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bones: Yanks in the UK

Welcome to the fourth series premiere of Bones. It has been a summer of anger and anticipation for me as a fan of the show. Anger, as I felt creator Hart Hanson bollixed the whole thing up by making Zack Addy a bit potty. Anticipation, because I was curious to see how Hanson and his writers would fill the gap and how the rest of the blokes at the Jeffersonian will adjust. And, of course, there's also the unanswered question as to the state of Bones and Booth's relationship: will they shag or not this season?

None of those questions were answered in this two-hour series premiere, althouth Zack's fate was briefly mentioned. What I did get was a trip to Londontown by Temperance and Seeley (hence, the British slang), and some significant relationship changes amongst the Squints. So, grab a pint, some fish n' chips, and your favorite duck, and let's begin.

Premiering a new season with a two-hour episode is always a gamble in television. It either runs the risk of filling the episode with too much information for the viewer to take in, too little information to keep the viewer interested, or is uneven in its presentation. The season premiere of Bones fell under the title of uneven, at least with the London story line. While the second hour of the premiere felt more like a regular episode, the first hour felt a tad uncomfortable.

That could be due to Booth's portrayal during those first 60 minutes. I know that Seeley is a pretty bright person (that's why he's a Special FBI Agent and not just a FBI Agent), but in the the first segment of the show he looked pretty dim. Understandably it could have been the adjustment of being away from his home base and feeling both unwelcomed by some and unwanted by others. Without a gun, the resources of his agency behind him, and no good coffee, Booth probably felt a bit impotent...in the figurative sense.

It doesn't mean that his awkwardness didn't give me some interesting moments. His tiny breakdown in the middle of a London traffic roundabout was one good example of how his uneasiness worked to my favor. Sure, stereotypical American driving on the wrong side of the road is always amusing. It was just the way that Booth handled it that made it funnier. That big, strapping guy in that tiny little car, screaming at the top of his lungs about the deficiencies of England. It's probably something that everyone who has been to another country has thought of doing one time or another and I speak from experience since I just returned a few hours ago from spending two weeks in Germany.

Perhaps the other reason that the first hour of the premiere felt off was the case Bones and Booth were involved with. Frankly, it wasn't that interesting. So it involved an American who was a huge entrepreneur in England. I've seen that all before. That, and the oh-so-regal royal family that tries to hide their dirty laundry behind their titles. The only good thing about it was Booth's no-nonsense approach to interviewing the family and getting them to spill the beans. Blue blood or not, Seeley doesn't stop at anything to get the truth out.

The second hour of the premiere was much better as Bones and Booth became more involved with the case. Perhaps the interest was there because of the death of a character I was just introduced to an hour before. Dr. Ian Wexler was a charming, intelligent professor of anthropology. He was also a horndog. Throughout the first hour he continually tried to add Temperance as another notch on his belt which, if he really knew Brennan, he wouldn't have tried in the first place. He was also a tad bit pompous and looked down on Booth as just another American "cowboy". This probably placed him down a step on the likable chart.

When he was found dead it wasn't a total loss. Still, it did add additional drama to the case. It also gave a more human face to Inspector Cate Pritchard -- Booth's counterpart in England. During the first hour, Pritchard showed a good deal of cooperation with their American partners in trying to solve the murder of the expatriate daughter of a real estate mogul. Once Wexler was killed that all changed. Being close to Ian, and I mean close, she doled out her help in smaller portions. As the investigation progressed she realized that holding information back would not solve the case any quicker. By the end of the episode there was a new found respect on both sides.

Time to turn my attention back to the Squints of the Jeffersonian and, perhaps, the more interesting storyline of the episode. First, Clark Edison was back in Zack's position. Unfortunately, it was only for a short time. Hart Hanson has mentioned that Bones and the team would have a series of assistants this season in Addy's slot. That's too bad, since Clark was interesting and presented a stable front in the soap opera that is the Squints.

Which is something that wasn't realized until this week's episode. For the most part the lives of Hodgins, Angela and Cam have that soap opera element to them. Well, more Angela and Hodgins as I saw in this installment. No, really, think about it. A longing love that would not be reciprocated; a marriage that never was; the mysterious "other man"; the loss of trust between the two. Take all of those plot points out and they could have been part of the new 90210 except, well, they would be better acted on Bones.

Despite the disappointment, the breakup of Angela and Hodgins was a good thing. Workplace romance on television is always a risk because it can go stale at a moment's notice. Angela and Hodgins looked to be heading down that path anyway. Now, instead of having a multi-episode arc where there relationship breaks down into constant snipping between each other, new storyline avenues can be opened up for both of these characters.

This episode was also a big one for the young Dr. Sweets. After being on the periphery of the Squints for most of last season, Lance really became fully intertwined with the group. Thing is, the fit is off. Where Booth actually fits pretty snugly with the team now, there doesn't seem to be a place for Sweets amidst this group. Oh, helping Bones and Booth profile a potential killer...absolutely. Sitting there while one of Bones' assistants of the week talks about stress fractures in the fourth and fifth thoracic vertebrae is another story.
Whew! That was a lot to talk about concerning the season premiere of Bones.

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