Another show (see also: "House") that seemed like an unlikely pairing with "American Idol" when it first aired, "Bones" still saw benefits from the match-up, as the series has done what seems like a rarity today - made it to a fourth season. The show also no longer benefits from the "Idol" pairing, instead succeeding on its own, currently paired up with "Hell's Kitchen" on Thursdays.
The series stars Emily Deschanel (sister of "Elf" star Zooey) as Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist - with little in the way of social skills - who reluctantly works with FBI agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz), who needs Brennan's forensic skills in order to solve crimes by examining the remains found. That results in a series that is certainly rather graphic at times.
However, one of the main reasons the show has done as well as it has is its cast. Deschanel (who manages to share the exact same perfectly deadpan delivery as her sister) handles both the comedic and dramatic scenes equally well. Brennan is tough, hardened and determined, but Deschanel's portrayal is certainly not one-dimensional and the actress does show a softer side at times. She also has terrific chemistry with Boreanaz, and their snappy give-and-take exchanges of dialogue crackle and give the show energy and momentum.
The series also gets a boost from consistently solid writing; while I'm not sure how realistic the series is, the plots are often unpredictable and in season three the show still provides a fairly wide variety of cases for the characters to solve. The first case Booth and Brennan tackle is a cannibal murder in the "Widow's Son" case. The duo continues to return to the mysterious case as new clues are presented throughout the season. Meanwhile, each episode brings a new death to solve including the Halloween episode about a serial killer who leaves mummified remains in a pumpkin patch, as well as the cases of college athletes, singers and race car drivers.
While the show might maintain interest from the cases alone, what sets "Bones" apart is the relationship between the main characters. Season three offers more situations for the pair to play off each other nicely. In "The Secret in the Soil" they have to meet with clinical psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley, who joins the series) who informs them that the FBI might terminate their partnership since Booth arrested Brennan's father, Max. Their meetings with Sweets are a perfect example of Deschanel and Boreanaz's chemistry and timing together. Also in the episode, "The Baby in the Bough" Brennan and Booth have to take care of a baby while they try to uncover what happened to his mother. Here, Deschanel proves once again that she's perfect for the role as she talks to the child as if it were an adult.
Season three is a solid effort and offers continuously gruesome cases for the team to take on. T.J. Thyne, Michaela Conlin, and Tamara Taylor continue to offer excellent supporting performances and the writing remains focused and witty as the previous seasons. Season three of "Bones" does also focus on Brennan's dad, Max Keenan (Ryan O'Neal) whose case is finally brought to trial.
"The Widow's Son in the Windshield"
As Brennan searches for Zack's replacement, a human skull dropped from a highway overpass leads to the discovery of a bizarre, cannibalistic, secret society.
"Soccer Mom in the Mini-Van"
The explosive murder of a suburban mom seems to stem from her radical past. Meanwhile, Brennan struggles with her feelings as she visits her father in prison.
"Death in the Saddle"
Things are bound to get weird when an investigation leads to a lodge specializing in sexual horseplay. Elsewhere, hypnotherapy leads to a breakthrough in the ongoing hunt for Angela's husband.
"The Secret in the Soil"
Booth and Brennan must undergo psychiatric evaluation as they investigate the charred remains of the owner of a chain of organic supermarkets.
"Mummy in the Maze"
With Halloween rapidly approaching, the mummified remains of two young girls lead the team through a twisted maze of creepy clues.
"Intern in the Incinerator"
The Jeffersonian Institute is thrown into turmoil when one of its promising interns is murdered in what appears to be an inside job.
"Boy in the Time Capsule"
A body is found when a high school time capsule from 1987 is unearthed, and the investigation focuses on the victim's classmates.
"The Knight on the Grid"
A bejeweled corpse with surgically-removed kneecaps leads back to the case of the Widow's Son and the trail of the Gormogon Killer.
"The Santa in the Slush"
It's up to Bones to save Christmas when the body of a shopping mall Santa named Kris Kringle seems to be the real McCoy.
"The Man in the Mud"
At Dr. Sweets' behest, Booth and Brennan reluctantly agree to go on a double-date during an investigation involving the death of a professional motorcycle racer.
"Player Under Pressure"
The murder of a college hoops star leads booth and Brennan to an investigation involving sex and steroids.
"The Baby in the Bough"
An infant found at the scene of a roadside accidents holds the key to solving his mother's murder.
"The Verdict in the Story"
Brennan is conflicted but tries to remain cool as the team prepares for her father's murder trial.
"The Wannabe in the Weeds"
It's open mic night, and the gruesome death of an aspiring singer and personal trainer leads the team to unveil some hidden talents.
"The Pain in the Heart"
While Brennan fumes at booth, a macabre package with her name on it leads to the explosive conclusion of the Gormogon case.
VIDEO: "Bones" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The show's presentation here looked terrific, with crisp, clear images throughout. Good detail was present even in the darkest of sequences. Some minor artifacting was spotted on a couple of occasions, but was hardly noticable. No edge enhancement or flaws with the source material were seen. The show's color palette is understandably a bit subdued, although it appeared accurately presented here, with no smearing or other issues. Black level was solid, as well.
SOUND: The show is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 by 20th Century Fox. The show's soundtrack does put the surrounds to use at times to offer occasional effects and ambience, as well as some support for the score. Audio quality was fine, with crisp music and clear, undistorted dialogue.
Mostly flubbed lines and goofy faces, there's really not much here but fans may enjoy.
"Director's Take: The director takes offer five different behind-the-scenes looks at one aspect of making a specific episode. These are short clips, but offer an interesting look at some of the work that goes into making the show more believable.
The Vault - Director Ian Toynton takes on a behind the scenes look at the making of the premiere episode of the third season. The scene is in a bank vault and the cast and director talk about working on the set and how the decorations enhance the mood. They also talk about the premise of the episode.
Making of the Body - Director Craig Ross Jr. talks about the episode "Death in the Saddle" and offers a behind the scenes look at the prop bodies that are made by effects supervisor Chris Yagher.
Car Crash-Exploding Van - Director Allan Kroeker focuses on the special effects that are used to blow up the car. Effects Supervisor Randy Torpin discusses how he gets the job done.
Squints - Director Steven DePaul gives a behind the scene look at the group called "Squints" that comes together to figure out what's happened to the discovered bodies. The cast playing squints talk about the role of a squint and the set they mainly work on.
The Angelator- Director Jeff Woolnough talks about creating the Angelator (a 3D machine Angela uses to visualize her theories).
"The Knight on the Grid" includes an optional extended episode
"The Santa in the Slush" includes an extended scene
"Player Under Pressure" includes the aired version and the original unaired version
"The Baby in the Bough" includes extended version
Also included are the first three episodes from Season 4, which is certainly a very nice bonus for fans.
Final Thoughts: With a great ensemble cast that continues to seem more comfortable with one another and writing that is still improving, "Bones" is once again entertaining in this very good third season. The DVD set offers very good audio/video quality, as well as some terrific extras. Highly recommended..