I started watching it for reasons I can’t quite remember, and now I just continue to watch it. I won’t say that it’s on the level of the great shows that everyone’s always suggesting have created a New Golden Age of Television. In fact, it’s a weekly procedural, which a lot of TV people would probably say makes it the opposite of deep, universe-building dramas such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad. But as far as procedurals go, Bones is at least better than your NCISes and CSIs and SVUs and the rest of the letter shows that have blank slate law enforcement officers solving crimes without enough room to allow actual character growth.
But I assume you don’t watch Bones, and I also assume you mentally shut down when your parents try to talk to you about it, so I figured I’d do you a solid and tell you twenty things that I think you should know about the show.
- Bones takes place in a bizarre universe where people are almost never murdered with traditional weapons. It’s always something irregular or makeshift — the propeller blade from an antique motorboat or a scrimshaw fishing knife — that delays the investigation. I don’t know why I skewed maritime with my examples, but you get the idea.
- The show takes place in the greater D.C. area, generally, but the vast majority of wilderness locations look remarkably like Griffith Park.
- And while the central setting of the show is the Jeffersonian Institute, the exteriors of this supposed building are actually the L.A. County Natural History Museum. (The staff are not amused if you ask where Bones is.) This creates the neat situation where Dr. Temperance Brennan works in the same building as where Sally Draper got her period for the first time.
- Despite what you might initially guess, the show is not a spin-off of Small Wonder and the central character is not a grown-up version of V.I.C.I. the robot girl. No, despite the way she talks and acts, Dr. Brennan is a human woman. (Though like Small Wonder, weirdly few people suspect that the person who talks and acts like a robot actually is a robot.)
- Dr. Brennan is played by Emily Deschanel, the sister of Zooey Deschanel, who appeared in a Christmas episode as Dr. Brennan’s equally deadpan cousin. (“On Planet Deschanel, Emotion Is Forbidden.”) This character seems to suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder rooted in Benjamin Franklin trivia. Shortly thereafter, Zooey Deschanel scored the lead in another Fox show, New Girl. So there you go.
- Despite the fact that Dr. Brennan has trouble expressing and understanding basic emotional motivations, she is also the author of a best-selling series of books. That seems strange but also prescient.
- To expand on a tweet by Jules Klausner, the show is called Bones because Dr. Brennan specializes in analyzing bones and also everyone calls her Bones and also she has sex with multiple partners.
- Even though the show is chiefly concerned with the analysis of dead bodies — and we’re talking about humans reduced to bug-ridden glop here — every single major character falls in love with someone who works in the office. Even Cam’s daughter dated one of the interns for a while, until the writers were all “No, not that anymore. No.”
- One of the characters is named Angela Montenegro, and she is an artist who is magic and owns a magic computer that can do anything. Like, Cam will say, “Angela, can you show what it would look like if a ferret ate the victim’s genitals and then burrowed through his genitals-hole into his chest cavity and then exploded out his face?” And then Angela is all “beep beep boop” and then she makes a computer animation that looks early 2000s of that thing happening. She is magic.
- No one ever just tells anyone anything. They say something like “I need to show you something,” and then the whole cast assembles in their room — it’s usually Angela’s office — and then they explain everything.
- In the show’s third season, they had a recurring villain whose name was Gormogon, which is a slightly better name than TKTK Weird Serial Killer Name Will Fix Later TKTK.
- There was an episode where Stewie Griffin was a guest star.
- Patricia Belcher (perhaps best known as the ineffective psychic in Jeepers Creepers) plays Caroline Julian, a criminal prosecutor with the U.S. attorney’s office who has appeared in 39 episodes of the show and who has exactly two personality characteristics: (1) gruff but loving and (2) calls people “cher” and “cherie.”
- Bones and her team are assisted by a rotating cast of interns that basically functions like the lesser members of Super Friends — personality types and ethnic types not represented in the main cast. We’ve got a white guy, a black guy, a depressed white guy, a Muslim, a rednecky white guy and exactly one woman. No East Asians or gays yet, but hey — Bones got renewed for another season.
- That female intern, Daisy Wick, is noted in the IMDb trivia for the show: “Daisy Wick is the name of one of the secondary characters. Daisy Zick is the name of a real-life murder victim from Battle Creek, Michigan in 1963. The crime remains unsolved.” So that’s fun.
- There was a kinda-sorta-but-notta Veronica Mars reunion in a 2010 episode that featured both Enrico Colatoni and Francis Capra. They did not get to interact, sadly, to say nothing of them getting to wink at each other.
- ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons has a recurring role on the show, playing himself — and Angela’s father. I want there to be a “She’s Got Legs” joke in an episode about a corpse who had her legs sawed off.
- It’s possible that Bones currently takes place in the future. The fifth season ended with the major characters departing D.C. for a year and then reuniting at the start of the sixth season. If the show took place in the current year when it started in 2005 — and why wouldn’t it? — that time jump means that Booth and Brennan are solving crimes in the year 2015 already.
- I frequently watch Bones while I’m doing other things — say, washing dishes or cooking or exercising but not eating anymore. I have a good reason. One specific episode, “The Gamer in the Grease,” featured a decomposed human body being found in a grease reclamation truck. It took glop to new levels and I actually had to stop eating for the night. The episode, oddly enough, was directly inspired by the documentary The King of Kong, which was weird for a number of reasons.
- Finally, the staff psychologist, Lance Sweets, is played by John Francis Daley, whose post-Freaks and Geeks existence is proof that puberty, like Angela’s computer, is magic.
Get it? Bones? BONES?