I've enjoyed the work of David Boreanaz in the past when he was on the show Angel, and I thought that any movie franchise that was looking to launch could have used his talents in it. But Boreanaz decided to...stay on television and become part of yet another forensics investigation show from a broadcast network? I guess that's why he's doing that and I'm writing about it, I guess. Yet despite whatever skepticism I may harbor, Bones - the show Boreanaz co-stars in - is currently in its fifth season on air and has been steadily increasing in popularity as the show has become more familiar to Nielsen households.
The show chronicles the work of Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel, My Sister's Keeper), otherwise known as "Bones," a leading forensic anthropologist and best-selling author. However she's not part of law enforcement per se, so Special Agent Booth (Boreanaz) serves as the FBI conduit for Bones' research that helps them solve cases. Bones and Booth are not the only ones in the group, within Bones' team you've also got Agent Montenegro (Michaela Conlin, Enchanted), who handles facial reconstruction, Dr. Hodgins (T.J. Thyne, Shuffle) works on entomology and Dr. Saroyan (Tamara Taylor, Diary of a Mad Black Woman), who is the Head of the Forensic Division at the Institute Bones works at. In Season Three, the addition of FBI-assigned psychiatrist Dr. Sweets (John Francis Daley, Freaks and Geeks) is designed to help smooth out friction between the Bones and Booth characters due to an incident in Season Three, but soon Sweets finds himself occasionally contributing to motives in cases.
The result of all of these ingredients to the mix is one that manages to juggle its ensemble well. As opposed to similar genre shows with a large cast, the regular cast members in Bones get a chance to incorporate some of their individual personalities into the roles, rather than just doing their jobs as part of solving a case. It's good that they realize this, because frankly, the standalone format for forensic-related shows can only make so many different versions of the wheel; the cast has done something similar to another Fox show (House) which gives you quality time with the supporting players.
The reason why that's done is that the chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz is outstanding. I've never watched Bones for an extended period of time, and I'm coming into the show knowing that they've had more than 60 episodes to work on it, but the actors have something that many current co-star pairings older than them lack. Both are young and attractive, and they are one of the better examples of opposites attracting that other shows hope to capture. Booth's almost carefree manner and Bones' conservative demeanor provides for moments that are funny and awkward, but at times make for interesting moments through the season.
But for what that chemistry may bring to the table, that's the only sustainable asset the show has. It's part of an oversaturated genre of television shows, with the only thing apparent thing separating it being a couple of young people who will probably hook up and devalue the show as a result. Then we're back to wondering why Boreanaz didn't leave episodic television for film while he had the chance.
The Blu-ray Disc:
All of the episodes are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and use the AVC codec, and look as good as their original broadcasts. Blacks are solid and consistent through the season, and there are some occasional moments of vivid color ("The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond" being a good example of stretching the palette out). This is a straightforward reproduction of Bones on Blu-ray, with little to air grievances over.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround for all episodes in the series and again, Fox provides a quality technical presentation to an in-production show. Dialogue is strong and clear, and for additional required action like gunfire or music, the front channels get a little more involved and show off the soundstage. There's not a lot of stunts or other visual manna that keep the shows moving; it's a quiet show, but it does manage to do a reliable job of reproducing all of the sound and is a presumable upgrade over the standard-definition edition.
The "Body Bag Edition" of Bones includes the missing four episodes from the fourth season ("The Yanks in the UK," "The Man in the Outhouse" and "The Finger in the Nest") that were omitted from the standard-definition version, so by extension that should make it the one to buy if a high-definition equipped consumer had the decision, yes? But looking past that, the extras are in line with the standard-definition set. You've got extended episodes for "The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond", "The Doctor in the Den", and "The Girl in the Mask," which you can watch in that version or in their original broadcast length.
Moving on, there's not a lot on these five BD-50s worth jumping up and down over; two deleted scenes (2:17) don't really contribute anything, a gag reel (5:44) is a little funnier for Boreanaz' practical jokes involving a belt buckle, but is mainly full of flubs and vocal missteps. "Androgyny: Playing Haru Tanaka" (6:44)includes interview footage from the actress who played the role (Ally Maki), as she discusses her approach to the role and what it took to land it, along with her thoughts on it. "Squints in Training" (9:49) examines the concept of rotating lab "interns" for the show during the season, what helped and didn't, and the actors involved share their thoughts on the characters they portrayed. They also discuss how awesome the show is too. But still, these are all too brief supplements on this set.
The fourth season of Bones may prove to be appealing, but looking from the outside in, I didn't catch much of a reason to enjoy it. The kids do what they can to make it a worthwhile experience but there's nothing significant to really call in appointment viewing. Technically it's a solid presentation and you get the complete season here, so if you've got a choice and you're a fan, go for it. If you're new to forensic shows, I'd look for more entertaining fare.