I'm not entirely sure what happened behind-the-scenes from the time I watched the fourth season of Bones to the sixth season that I checked out recently, and it seems to be helping themselves in the ratings as well, as the show is slowly approaching the Top 20 Nielsen ratings into its seventh season. Maybe it's because other shows are going away, but within the forensic show genre, there are some stalwarts, and Bones seems to be filling those shoes nicely.
The beginning of the season finds the team being separated and Booth (David Boreanaz, Angel) finds himself on a tour of duty in Afghanistan while Temperance Brennan, a.k.a. Bones (Emily Deschanel, My Sister's Keeper) is in the Maluku Islands. However back at home, Cam (Tamara Taylor, Serenity) finds herself struggling with a case back at home and the team is reformed and called back into action in Washington. So the now-pregnant Angela (Michaela Conlin, Enchanted), returns along with the father, Hodgins (T.J. Thyne, Shuffle). And Dr. Sweets (John Francis Daley, Freaks and Geeks) returns also, continually analyzing Bones and Booth and providing the psychiatric angle for crime-solving.
Perhaps the thing that I became enamored by in Season Six of Bones may have been something that went under my radar in the fourth season, and that was Bones' willingness to both speak honestly and without a filter while maintaining her analytic voice. When something gets her mad, she doesn't have that emotional muffler that would cause her to stifle her thoughts. To do so would be lying to herself. So she says something like "I find that I have to strike you!" which is true to Bones' personality and winds up being funny at the same time. The continuing evolutions of the relationships with the group are almost as fascinating, with the Angela-Hodgins one being the most poignant, with the latter trying to almost come to grips with his impending fatherhood. And going back to Bones for a second, watching her deal with Booth's new girlfriend (whom he met in Afghanistan) is equal parts heartbreaking and graceful, watching the two be happy and wanting to speak out, but avoiding it.
This isn't to say that the show focuses most of its time on who thinks what about whom, the actual investigations are present and remain entertaining and sometimes suspenseful. Aside from the "Booth girlfriend" arc the other notable guest star may be Arnold Vosloo's (The Mummy) appearance as a sniper and former mentor to Booth. He winds up impacting the group in more ways than one, and seeing how that is processed going forward will be intriguing. Additionally, David Alan Grier (In Living Color)as a "Bill Nye"-character is funny, as is Wayne Knight (Seinfeld) in a Willy Wonka-role. There are a couple of throwaway episodes such as the one that spoofs the Jersey Shore crew, but they do serve a benefit in watching Deschanel stretch her comic legs here and there.
All in all, the sixth season of Bones seems to have found itself rejuvenated from its earlier seasons. The elephant in the room of whether or not Deschanel and Boreanaz' eventual union seems to have been decided on, so the slow burn can begin while giving them (and other characters) a newfound development they may not have employed otherwise. My wife decided to get back into the show, and I think I've found myself doing the same thing.
The Blu-ray Discs:
All twenty-three episodes of Bones are presented in 1.78:1 and they use the AVC MPEG-4 codec. The show's high-definition filming is reproduced nicely here, with consistent black levels and recurring moments of color (including a scene where a skeleton is reproduced using deep blue ink) that look accurate without over saturation. The show does get some moments outside past the lab, and while it doesn't look like the Washington D.C. that I know, the exteriors look natural and have moments of fine image detail which can be discerned. The show looks as good on Blu-ray as it does in its original broadcasts.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround for all of the episodes. Things start out nicely in the premiere and Booth's Afghan tour, with channel panning and directional effects present, clear and convincing while you're listening to it. When things get back to normal, the dialogue sounds strong in the center channel, and that rocking intro music from The Crystal Method sounds superb. The show's soundtrack gets justice done for it on Blu-ray, and for shows such as this and House, one really notices the sonic subtleties and appreciate them.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the "Cradle to Grave Edition" is more a play on words for the stories in the season rather than an exhaustive edition of bonus material, even as there is some stuff here. On Disc Two, there is a commentary on "The Doctor in the Photo" with show runner Hart Hanson, episode director Ian Toynton and executive producer Stephen Nathan. Jocular in nature, the trio recounts the intent for the episode and the challenges encountered while filming it. They chip in some raves on a particular performance or cast member, but otherwise there isn't much to be gained from it. On Disc Three, the other commentary can be found on "The Blackout and the Blizzard" with Boreanaz and Deschanel. If you take the previous commentary and strip it of the production insight and add more jokes and giggling, you've got this commentary. There is a small look at the production for this episode titled "Breaking Down" (8:22), where the cast share their thoughts on the episode, explaining a story arc or two and recounting the building of the elevator where Booth and Bones spend their time. Decent stuff.
The other extras are on Disc Four, starting with a slightly funny gag reel (4:24), followed by "The Visual Effects of Bones" (11:50) where the makeup and visual effects departments are highlighted, showing their work and (in the case of the computer effects team) a bit of comparison footage on some scenes that are intriguing. The pilot for the AMC show (and presumably Fox-produced) The Killing (45:31) completes this set.
Bones' sixth season may be similar to recent years of The Simpsons, in that an event or decision behind the scenes has helped breathe new life into the show and characters. While nobody is clamoring for a big-screen version of it, Bones seems to have measurably improved in the last three seasons and is well worth the leap, regardless if you've been in the pool before or not. Technically it's solid and is a little hollow on the bonus side, but certainly worth your time.