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Bones: Season 3 (2007-2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/18/2008

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/29/2008

By definition, most dramatic television series are episodic. (The word "dramatic" is used here to differentiate from situation-comedies.) Each episode features a self-contained story with a beginning, middle, and end. However, these episodes will also contains characters which carry-over from show-to-show and will more often than not, features ideas which have been previously put forth in early chapters. Some series even feature story arcs, where one long story is told through a series of short episodes. Somehow, Bones manages to do all of that and none of it at the same time, as it may be the most episodic show of all time.

Bones tells the story of world renowned anthropologist and mystery author Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). While her first love is field work, where she unearths ancient civilizations, Brennan spends most of her time working for The Jeffersonian Institute, where she assists FBI Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) with criminal investigations. (Booth has given Brennan the nickname "Bones", hence the show's title.) When a body needs to be identified, or if the remains are too decayed or damaged to easily determine a cause of death, Brennan and her team are called in to help. Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor) oversees the group. Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) specializes in soil samples and insects. Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) is an artist who helps to reconstruct facial features and crime scenes.

Season 3 of Bones, begins some three months after the conclusion of Season 2. The team is working together as usual at The Jeffersonian, save for Dr. Zack Addy (Eric Millegan), who went to Iraq to serve as a medic at the conclusion of the previous season. Zack had been one of Brennan's star pupils and she's having a difficult time finding a replacement for him. This dilemma is solved when Zack returns from the war and retakes his post in the lab. Hodgins and Angela have been dating and they want to get married, but there's one hitch; Angela married a total stranger during a drunken trip to Fiji and she's need to get a divorce first. The problem is that she can't remember his full name and has no idea how to find him. Due to some perceived issues between them, Brennan and Booth are assigned to see FBI psychologist Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley). Brennan must deal with her father, Max (Ryan O'Neal), who has been charged with murder.

As you can see, there are some ideas on Bones which are woven in and out of episodes and show up every now and then. One such idea has to do with the Gormogon serial killer. The team discovers a silver skeleton which contains some real human bones in places. They determine that whoever owns this skeleton was not only attempting to replace the silver pieces with real bones, but had eaten the flesh off of the bones before-hand. This storyline crops up every now and then, but doesn't seem to really go anywhere. That is, until the final episode of Season 3. In this episode, the Gormogon story finally comes to a head and there is a huge pay-off for loyal viewers. In fact, the last two episodes of the season contain more drama than the first 13 combined.

And thus we have the pros and cons of Bones, a show which defines dichotomous. As noted above, Bones is incredibly episodic. Over 90% of each episode is about that week's story. What should be ongoing storylines or story arcs, are treated merely as filler, as the show concentrates on the latest crime and mystery. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no. The mysteries always work out in the exact same way, but they are still very intriguing. Each week, a corpse is found in the cold opening, and then The Jeffersonian team goes to work. At each commercial break, a new suspect is named and then exonerated, until the real killer is finally revealed. While this pattern could certainly use some updating, the way in which Brennan & Booth solve each murder is still fun to watch. She uses science and he uses street smarts and they find clues and eliminate suspects. I don't watch any of the other procedurals which are currently on, so maybe Bones' approach isn't very novel, but it is what keeps the show going.

The other elements of Bones deal with the characters and their lives. The problem here is that the show doesn't work very hard to make us care about them, so it's difficult to get that involved. Each character has their own eccentricities and storylines, but, again, they often remain in the background, so getting invested in them isn't a priority. Also, there is a flirtation between Brennan and Booth which has gone from interesting to annoying. This isn't Moonlighting. At times, it seems that Bones wants to be a character-driven drama, but the show is so good at presenting murder-mysteries, that it often forgets this. Bones is based on the works of author Kathy Reichs, a real-life forensic anthropologist. I read one of her Brennan novels for the first-time recently, and let me tell you, it's nothing like the show. The book was nothing but characters and drama. Perhaps the makers of Bones could take a tip from this.

So, is Bones a good show? It must be, as I keep watching it every week, but it's far from perfect. One thing's for sure; this is a show which you could watch at nearly any point in the season and you wouldn't have any trouble following the story. Perhaps this is why the program has become a ratings winner. The sad truth is that the last two episodes of Season 3 show what a powerful show this could be. Oh well, at least we get a slimy new corpse and a good mystery every week.

Bones: Season Three has its sternum broken on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. This five-disc set contains all 15 episodes from the show's third season. The episodes are all letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain at times. There are no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. There is some shimmering and video noise at times, but overall, this transfer rivals digital broadcast quality. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track delivers fine stereo effects which display very nice speaker separation. The in-show music sounds good as well. The surround sound effects are subtle, but are definitely present during action scenes.

The Bones: Season Three DVD set contains several extras which are spread across the discs. Disc 1 kicks off with a 5-minute GAG REEL. "The Director's Take" includes five short segments which feature various episode directors talking about different aspects of the show. "The Vault" (3 minutes) has Director Ian Toynton showing us the bank vault which holds the Gormogon evidence. "Making of the Body" (2 minutes) has Craig Ross Jr. explaining the effects which go into the making of a corpse. "Car Crash-Exploding Van" (2 minutes) offers Allan Kroeker displaying a stunt which features an exploding van. In "Squints" (2 minutes) Steven Depaul gives an overview of the show's scientists. "The Angelator" (2 minutes) Jeff Woolnough explains the elements of the 3-D computer which Angela uses to reenact crimes. This set features several episodes where the viewer can choose to watch an extended version. "The Knight in the Grid" (Disc 3) has a version which is 3 minutes longer. "Player Under Pressure" (Disc 3) has a version which is actually a bit shorter. "The Baby in the Bough" (Disc 4) has a version which is 2 minutes longer. There is an extended scenes from "The Santa in the Slush" which runs about 3 minutes. Disc 5 contains the first three episodes from Season 4 of Bones. Let me get this straight, you release the DVD of Season 3 some 10 weeks after Season 4 has begun and include these episodes? Is this to entice viewers to catch up? Who was the ad wizard who came up with this?

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long