Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bone Deep

Apropos of yesterday's post where I suggested I might do a TV diary, I thought I'd write a bit about Bones.

I watched last night's episode this morning over a bit of breakfast because I was too tired to watch TV last night. I had a big day yesterday, so I taped both Bones and Supernatural to watch back today.

I'm yet to watch Supernatural, but I thought I'd talk about Bones because as I sat down to watch it this morning, I thought I'd messed up the recording of it, and I was momentarily, but intensely, disappointed. I'd completely forgotten about it last Monday--it was a busy day last week too--and before I managed to get the episode to play back, I'd thought 'Oh noes! That's two weeks in a row I've missed it!'

At that thought I had a flash of self-awareness about the contradictions in my television viewing tastes.

I think most people who read this blog know that I'm doing a PhD thesis on 'quality' television drama. That means that I'm constantly thinking about the cultural value or lack thereof that is generally attributed to television and its texts.

In this context I know that Bones is not fantastic television. It's television that panders to least offensive programming policies. It's not the edgy, more culturally valued product of HBO and Showtime or even the BBC (if you're after a different measure of quality).

If I scratch the surface of Bones I know there are terrible flaws in the characterisation of its protagonist, forensic anthropologist, Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan. Part of this is that in every episode Bones charts the same arc: she begins as a socially and emotionally inept rational scientist type and, coaxed along by the charming, sensitive and God-fearing FBI agent Seely Booth, she is transformed into someone who learns what it is to be a living, breathing, spiritual human being, as opposed to a mere collection of bones encased in flesh.

Last night's episode 'Baby in the Bough' is a case in point. At the scene of a car accident where the adult female driver dies, Booth and Bones find a baby in a capsule. The capsule was flung free of the car and landed, with the baby unharmed, in the bough of a tree. Booth thinks it's a miracle, while Bones intones that the baby's survival is exactly what such capsules are designed and manufactured to ensure. In a series of events that merely confirm Dr. Brennan's incompetence with real live human beings, the baby, Andy, ends up swallowing a key at the scene of the accident, and since it's a likely clue to help solve the mystery of the woman's death, Booth and Temperance have to look after the child until the key makes its way through his digestive tract. (Did I mention completely ridiculous plot contrivances?) Eventually, of course, Bones warms to Andy, becoming extremely protective of his care and determined to ensure him a secure future.

Another version of this arc happened the week before last, and no doubt if will happen again next week. Bones never really changes. This is television without a memory.

Here, I might be expected to make a claim along the lines of 'it's so bad, it's good', but I can't.

I don't even want to.

The fact is, I like Bones.

If I'm pressed to explain my taste, then it simply comes down to this:

Together, Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz are completely hot.


dogpossum said...

100% agreement. I freakin' LOVE bones. Mostly for the the romance.

Also, in this subject I'm teaching, the lecturer keeps saying things like 'none of us watch tv - we use the internet'. she's also very keen on the term 'heritage media' (ie tv, newspaper, radio).
Last week we were teaching audience research and I was doing a bit of 'who watches... Buffy? Simpsons?' to illustrate surveying, etc. I was the only one in all my four classes who didn't watch tv on the actual television. Everyone else used real, live tv for tv watching. Whether they recorded or watched 'live'.

I'm struck by the importance of actually watching broadcast tv as opposed to dvds. I think, for me at least, broadcast tv is important, if only because it's a really good way of advertising dvds. But also because there's a special pleasure in tuning in each week and watching a program with a whole 'audience' of other viewers, rationing out each episode and then devouring it in conversation...

Kirsty said...

Well since they're still bothering to collect ratings data, I figure there's a whole industry that is based on the fact that people still watch broadcast tv, no matter what those still dazzled by teh internets want to believe. 'Heritage media'? LOL!: as if historical periods stop and start completely distinct of one another! I prefer to talk about TVs 1, 2, and 3 and there are various other names for the same developments ie John Ellis: Scarcity, Development, Abundance. And the point that those describing these historical stages in the development of TV always insist upon is that the modes co-exist.

tseen said...

I couldn't watch Bones for the longest time, mostly because I was a consistent reader of the Kathy Reichs books (before she went so far down the Patricia Cornwell path of drivel) and Emily Deschanel is way too pretty to be the Tempe I had in my head. (cos all about me, right?)

I do watch it now, but have also been sucked into the uber-cheesyness of Criminal Minds. I loved the fact that Inigo Montoya was in it, then he left, and I'm still watching...

Kirsty said...

I've never gotten into Criminal Minds Tseen. I really have never like Mandy Patinkin or that other fellow that was also in Chicago Hope. And while I know he's left and have always liked the actor that replaced him as the head of the investigative team--well, like you, habits once formed...

But it is interesting I think that we first find ourselves watching these shows or not because of the appeal of particular actors or lack thereof.

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