Bones the greatest workplace comedy of them all
(Okay it’s not as good as Cheers and the early days of Murphy Brown but in terms of consistency it’s held up a hell of a lot better than The Office.)
Bones masquerades as a procedural but in reality it is more of workplace comedy. Even creator Hart Hanson has said as much in a recent interview with EW where he assured fans that “it’s still a crimedy“. Fox doesn’t even try and promote it as a procedural, it’s all crimedy in the below promo (I hate baseball, no new Bones until November).
Like most workplace comedies it has a central workplace, here it’s the Jeffersonian Institute, Forensic Sciences Department (a stand in for the Smithsonian as it’s set in Washington DC). It centers around a group of scientists who help the FBI solve crimes using forensic anthropology (BONES) and other scientific methods. Occasionally we visit the FBI, in which they use an actual picture of the Reagan building (go Bones and your authenticity). For the Jeffersonian they use the Natural History Museum in LA (boo Bones couldn’t you get the government to let you use any of our Smithsonian buildings and boo the government, you could make money off that shit).
Of course each of the employees at the Jeffersonian is delightfully daffy (you can’t have a workplace comedy if your characters are normal, actually you really can’t have a TV show at all).
Dr. Temperance Brennan “BONES” is a forensic anthropologist who has family trauma/drama. She is extremely logical and not very emotional.
Seeley Booth the other lead is Bones’ FBI partner. Where Bones uses logic Booth uses his gut. He refers to Bones’ fellow scientists as “Squints” (nicknames are also key to workplace comedies).
Dr. Cam Saroyan the head of the Jeffersonian Forensic Division (Bones’ boss) and a pathologist. She is no-nonsense and is not considered a Squint (doesn’t every boss need to be this way). Can I just point out all the really smart ladies on the show.
Dr. Lance Sweets is a FBI profiler,who works for the team. Sweets is a psychologist and often goes head to head with Brennan who doesn’t believe in psychology.
Next up we have entomologist Dr. Jack Hodgins and forensic artist Angela Montenegro, they are together because they are married and by definition kind of boring. Angela is Bones’ BFF and she is the child of ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons. Hodgins’ is also a billionaire. Hodgins’ often conducts outrageous experiments in the lab. Poor Cam often gets covered in yucky stuff when experiments go awry. He often claims he is “King of the Lab.” Hodgins is more interesting than Angela, who is kind of annoying with her arty effect. She also has a fancy computer, cause you need that in a lab.
Bones also has a rotating group of interns that are often involved in Hodgins’ experiments and for comic relief. There is about four or five who rotate throughout the season so that we know them and their individual quirks. For the first 3 seasons, we had intern Zack, but he became an apprentice for a serial killer and is currently in a psychiatric facility. It was sad–I loved Zack.
One of the things Bones also does is employ gross out humor. At the beginning of every episode some poor unassuming person, couple, or group discover a body in an incredibly gross and often ironic way. The bodies are often disgusting but the humor employed in discovering them always makes it more funny than scary.
For years Bones had a will they or won’t they vibe with Booth and Bones but they actually used Emily Deschanel’s real life pregnancy to pull the trigger on the relationship which, for the most part, has worked out. Mainly it has worked because Bones is so much more of an ensemble piece that this sidestepped time being spent on a drawn out courtship which wouldn’t have worked with the show’s format. Instead we have the same show we always did, it’s just that now Booth and Bones live together and have a child (unlike Hodgins and Angela they are not boring, I kind of think this has a lot to do with the hotness of Booth but that’s just me).
Hanson does bring in bad guys or gals they spread throughout a season or seasons for drama. The show mainly does a passable job with this though sometimes it’s very sad and dramatic, which Bones is also good at (there should always be a bit of pathos in comedy). I think the best thing you can say about the writers is that they have a very firm grasp of what their show is and though they might deviate from the formula to keep viewers interested, they never change it enough to alienate viewers.
Bones is in its 8th season and Fox has no plans to stop running it. It really doesn’t feel that old. By being a procedural that has spent most of its time working out the characters and their relationships while not being bogged down by too much drama and celebrating the humor found in the workplace relationships it likely has many more years left in its bones (I apologize for the pun but I needed one).
* All photos are from Fox’s Bones website