Kate Rice


As far as TV shows go, procedurals are hit and miss with me. Bones has a lot of intriguing characters, so I’m in. 

Bones is based on the works of Kathy Reichs. I don’t know how closely the show follows the books, but in the show, the forensic anthropologists work out of a lab at the “Jeffersonian,” helping the FBI solve cases. While the cases are generally entertaining, it’s Emily Deschanel’s brilliant, literal-minded forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan that really fascinates me. (Especially in earlier episodes.) 

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She’s clearly the smartest person in the room — and is not afraid to say so. She’s not bragging, she just has no false modesty. She has little to no understanding of pop culture and its references. She has a difficult time connecting with people, is able to compartmentalize and can be quite insensitive. Yet, she’s compassionate. She truly cares about people, and finding the truth in any situation, no matter how uncomfortable. 

As the series goes along, some of those qualities change. Which, to be honest, kinda bums me out. Sometimes the earlier episodes play her character for laughs, but not as often, and in a gently humorous way. In later seasons she’s frequently written as more of a caricature than a character. Character growth is good; lazy writing is not.

All of the main, and many of the supporting, characters are interesting. There’s her partner Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), who’s all about truth, justice and the American way — in a good way. He’s serious about his work, but has a more laid-back personality than Bones. He’s a man of faith; she’s an atheist. He has a young son (and is the world’s greatest dad); she starts out having no idea how to relate to a baby or child. Booth balances her out, and is a large part of the reason for her character’s growth.

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Also in the lab? Facial reconstruction artist/computer whiz Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin). She leads with her emotions, and is all about culture — pop or otherwise. Despite their differences, she and Bones are besties. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) is the salty entomologist/botanist/mineralogist and self-proclaimed “King of the Lab.” He’s a sarcastic conspiracy nut who mellows over time, and whose greatest joy is conducting whack lab experiments (ostensibly in the name of solving crimes). 

In charge of this circus and their “squints,” or lab assistants, is Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor, joining the cast in season two). At first, her no-nonsense authoritarian style of leadership clashes with Bones, because of course Temperance believes she’s always right. But soon, the entire group is bonded like family. 

There are many “squints” over Bones’ 12 seasons (yeah, it’s a lot, but I encourage you to stay through the end). Seasons 1–3 gave us socially stunted but genius Zach Addy (Eric Millegan). The decision to write him off, and the way in which they did so, is a headscratcher. Zach was one of the most beloved squints, but I enjoyed them all. Here are just a few…

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Speaking of beloved characters, young FBI Psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) wasn’t thrown into the mix until season 3, but his naïveté and intellect was a great addition to the show.

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Bones also showcases some damn fine recurring characters. Caroline Julian (Patricia Belcher), a federal prosecutor who doesn’t suffer fools. Ryan O’Neal’s Max Keenan as Temperance’s estranged father, whose idea of right and wrong is one big gray area. And, my personal favorite, Angela’s dad, played by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibson. He portrays what I assume is a larger-than-life version of himself, and that scary/weirdness is endearing. 

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So, come for the procedural, stay for the characters. Watch Bones on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all day long on BBC America, or on streaming options like Hulu, Freevee, Amazon and more.