The TDF Top 10: Bones
Next up in our TDF Top 10 is crime procedural with a difference, Bones...
Bones ran for 12 Seasons from 2005 to 2017. The show focused on the cases and relationships of FBI agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and a team of experts at the Jeffersonian institute (a fictional version of the Smithsonian), led by Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). Based on the series of books by Kathy Reichs, Bones took a Meta approach, portraying Dr. Brennan (affectionately called “Bones” by Agent Booth) as an author, writing about anthropologist Kathy Reichs. Each of their cases involves a body which is damaged beyond recognition, and they rely on Dr Brennan’s skills and knowledge of skeletons, to solve the case.
The pair are joined by a team of multiskilled experts, including millionaire “bug and slime guy” Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne), artist and free spirit Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), FBI psychologist Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley), and pathologist and boss Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor). They are also supported by a varying team of Dr Brennan’s interns, who are all gradually brought more into the team as their characters are developed.
While Bones primarily followed a monster of the week format, they also managed to brilliantly develop these characters into a lovable family. Occasional serial killers and recurrent enemies kept it interesting and compelling. Although it arguably ran for a couple of series longer than it should have, it still sits in the upper echelons of procedural television.
Allow me to present The TDF Top 10: Bones...
10: Harbingers in a Fountain (5.01)
As Booth recovers from brain surgery, and Brennan returns from a secondment to Guatemala, Angela’s psychic, Avalon (Cyndi Lauper) reveals that she believes there to be a number of bodies buried under a fountain. When 12 bodies are discovered, Brennan is forced to address the idea that sometimes science can’t explain everything. Avalon has not just found random bodies, but her own sister and the other members of a cult they belonged to. She had no knowledge of what happened to them, but perhaps she has a genuine talent? Plus, Cyndi Lauper makes everything better. The episode ends with Bones facing the killer on her own. Injured, she is presented with her own mortality so close to nearly losing Booth and emerges shaken by the experience.
9: Mayhem on a Cross (4.20)
A skeleton being used as a prop by a Norwegian Black Metal band is discovered to be a murder victim. This episode really leans into the anthropological aspects of the show, as they dig deep into the black metal subculture and the bizarre desire for the musicians to find themselves being held responsible for the killing. It is silly, hilarious, and shows than anthropology isn’t just a study of ancient cultures. Aspects of Sweets back story are revealed, as he uses his knowledge of the metal subculture to help them puzzle out the suspect's motives.
8: The Girl in the Mask (4.22)
Booth is contacted by a friend, Ken Nakamura (Brian Tee) to help him search for his missing sister. The unfortunate discovery of her body leads them to a system of exploitation of young Japanese women who are being forced to work as escorts. The beauty of this episode is once again how it addresses the anthropological aspects of it. The way Booth interacts with his friend respectfully suggests that he is not as ignorant to other cultures as he sometimes appears. They are also joined by a Japanese anthropologist named Dr Tanaka (Ally Maki), who adheres to a genderless subculture called Kei. The way this is handled is at times a little transphobic, but the team shows that it is possible to treat people with respect regardless of their pronouns, giving quite a progressive portrayal for it’s time.
7: The Knight on the Grid (3.08)
Season three focused primarily on a killer called The Gormogon. Before the series was interrupted and ended prematurely by the writers strike (though it suffered less than most from that) this killer was a compelling psychopath. A master and apprentice set up that carried over many years, with the pair killing and eating people with particular skills; all with the aim of building a perfect skeleton. Later in the series it is revealed that Zack (Eric Millegan), Brennan’s first intern, is the Gormogon’s apprentice, but at this stage it is all still to play for.
6: The Woman in White (9.06)
On the eve of Booth and Brennan’s wedding, their rehearsal is interrupted by a murder case. Bones can’t help herself but get involved and her friends bet on the likelihood of the wedding getting cancelled. The case is 30 years old so arguably can wait but before Brennan can fully let go. While all the interns are brought in to free up Brennan to get ready, they compete to be the one to solve the case, and coincidentally a candle causes the church to burn down. Booth and Brennan need to find a new venue, and way to compromise their sets of beliefs into a ceremony that suits them both, in a day.
5: The Sense in the Sacrifice (9.04)
Serial killer and highly intelligent hacker Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds), leaves bodies in gory public displays. The team forms a plan to encourage Pelant out of hiding by creating a fake crime scene copying his style, hoping his arrogance will force him to reveal himself. The team has to work backwards, creating a crime scene, adding the bugs, the gore and the things that would normally lead them to a killer. A scarred Pelant finds his way into the Jeffersonian disguised as a janitor, showing them all that they need to catch him, urgently, as absolutely nowhere is safe. This leads to a face off, in which Brennan has to decide between the academic choice and the moral one.
4: The Conspiracy in the Corpse/The Lance to the Heart (10.01 / 10.02)
A conspiracy leaves Booth in jail and the rest of the team scrambling to find out who is behind it. The end of the first episode has Sweets beaten to death in a carpark in a sudden attack. The second has the team adding the evidence from his death to what they already have, alongside mourning their friend. Daisy (Carla Gallo) is pregnant with Sweets’ child, and although they are separated she overcomes her own grief to help the team solve the case.
3: The Hero in the Hold (4.13)
The episode in which they finally catch The Gravedigger, becomes another race against time when Booth is kidnapped. Booth is assisted in his escape by the ghost of Teddy Parker (Noel Fisher), a friend he couldn’t save early in his military career, and the namesake for Booth’s son. Booth’s escape from the ship relies on them working together, and although Teddy turns out to not be real, Booth still credits him with saving his life. The Gravedigger’s demands for revealing Booth’s location, is the release of certain evidence that will lead to their discovery. With this in mind the team wrestles with the responsibility of finding the killer, and saving their friend.
2: The Hole in the Heart (6.22)
In the first of two major deaths in the series, intern Vincent Nigel-Murray (Ryan Cartwright), a young British man who has a love of random trivia, is shot and killed by sniper Jacob Broadsky (Arnold Vosloo). Vincent appeared in 11 episodes of Bones and was an earnest, charming and skilled member of the team; his facts didn’t always appear relevant, but he took the time to explain the train of thought that led him to them he was always a joy to watch. His sudden murder shakes the team to it’s core, leading Booth and Brennan to finally address their feelings for one another. The episode ends with a beautiful tribute, as they all sing “The lime in the coconut” as they load his coffin into the hearse, to be sent home to his family in England.
1: Aliens in a Spaceship (2.09)
The Gravedigger plotline created some of the best episodes of Bones. In this episode, Brennan and Hodgins are trapped in a car buried underground and the team has 24 hours to try and find them. Hodgins has a broken leg, and they are limited to whatever they have available to them to help them get out of the car or at least to get a message out to those looking for them. It is the first time we see members of our team in real danger, and boasts a brilliant performance from T.J. Thyne as Hodgins.
What are your favourite episodes of Bones? Let us know in the comments below...