Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bones Episode Review - 1.01 "A Boy in the Tree"

You can view a master list of all Bones episodes here. It also includes all reviews I've done thus far. I hope you enjoy and comments are always welcomed. I am filling the summer with old Bones reviews. I'm not doing it as fast as I like but hey, I've been pretty busy with a lot of writing, as you can see here and here.

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So, as I've said before: I'm a bit of a latecomer to Bones. On the one hand, I've missed years of enjoyment of this great show and the anticipation revolving around the Booth/Brennan relationship. On the other, I get the pleasure of skimming over Season 1 gimmicks that are thankfully now, on the cusp of Season 4, long lost memories.

1) The constant on-screen notifications of locations. Probably vital at the start of the series but I'm very thankful we don't see them now.

2) Along the same lines: constantly showing the logo of the lab. Following the strength of it's creator, Bones is a very character-driven show. It's likely they resisted that at first (Fox did want a procedural after all) but I'm glad the posing is over. At this point, the lab itself no longer matters. Maybe season 1 needed a boost to say "Hey, someone pays us to be smart so you should listen to us." but all you need now is one of the recognized faces, no matter the scene, and you know the smart science will follow.

3) The dialog at the start between Angela and Hodgins. On the one hand it's backdrop and contrast to the wonderful Zack/Naomi story but on the other it's a somewhat irritating beat-you-over-the-head exposition on what the viewers should completely know: these people are scientists and they want to have something interesting to do in their jobs. Again, maybe this is Season 3/latecomer in me talking...but was this ever really necessary?

4) Angela's stilted dialog when using the Angelator: her voice even sounds bored with itself. It reminds me of Sigourney Weaver's character, Gwen DeMarco, in Galaxy Quest who's job was to simply repeat everything the computer says. Maybe it's just what was said and/or how it was said but her lines ran all over me in bad ways. Wouldn't a simple and casual "Alright, give me a moment to set up the timeline...Here we go." worked just fine and not left the viewer feeling like a small dumb child? I'm very glad that Angela's casual nature isn't boxed anymore in her work environment.

Alright, enough with my Season 1 nitpicking, on with the show.

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So, the case in 'A Boy in the Tree' involves a teenage boy found hanging in a tree. Rather than a typical red herring flip-fest between suspects the case centers around a more basic and troubling question: was the boy's death suicide or murder? If it's suicide the school will be happy and if it's murder no one will be happy and they have to figure out who did it. It's a very character-centered case, which made more sense when I realized that Hart Hanson himself wrote it. The good guys, the family, are completely good. The bad guys, the school, are completely bad. And in the middle you have 3 teenagers, Nestor, Camden and Tucker, who's shades of gray shimmer and change up to the end.

I personally get tired of conspiracy and cover-up stories, so the aspects of the sheriff out for herself and the school guys pushing for suicide and a quick cover-up don't grab me in the slightest. I did enjoy the break from the typical whodunit list of suspects case and would overall rate this as a good case.

For interesting minor characters, however, this episode is somewhat lacking. There's no Cullen, for starters. Instead we have Mickey Santana, played by Jose Zuniga, who's character I find utterly unengaging and irritating. He's the typical overbearing cop superior who listens to no one. I'm glad his run is short.

There is definitely not enough Goodman either, though the scene with he, Booth, Brennan and Santana is fantastic.
Santana: Doesn't your gut say suicide?
Brennan: I don't actually use my gut for that, sir.
Booth: She really, really doesn't.
Goodman: Like all of us at the Jeffersonian, Dr. Brennan prefers science to the digestive tract.
Santana: What about your gut? (to Booth)
Booth: My gut says it stinks.
Goodman: He smells with his gut. What does he use his nose for?

Bright spot for the minor leagues: we do have some Sid though! This character always makes me smile. He's utterly unflappable.
Brennan: The sign outside says Wong Fu's.
Sid: Family name change at Ellis Island.

But he's very, and rightly, defensive of his premises and what goes on there. Add to that an unfailing ability to please and take care of his customers and what's not to like?

Angela and Hodgins don't have anything much individually in this episode, instead heavily supporting other character stories. One such story is the fantastic ensemble meeting in Wong Fu's. Hart Hanson has talked about the macabre humor of the professions who deal with death before and I imagine that along the same lines they may be somewhat lacking in the internal sensor that should set off alarm bells as to how others may view subjects they deal with everyday. To them, discussing disgusting murder and even 'voiding' over dinner is perfectly kosher and simple efficiency. Why not talk it over then? It's a perfectly good time! And we're, of course, along to laugh at their obliviousness.

Hodgins has the minor, and very funny, side story with the 7 organ soup. He's so utterly obstinate and in many ways exactly the entitled rich jerk that Booth can't respect, though that doesn't come to a head until much later. But it's constantly coming up in little ways, as with the soup. No one is going to tell Jack Hodgins what to eat. He always, and forever, knows what's best better than anyone else. The entire set is brilliantly played, from start to finish, by T.J. Thyne, down to the 'organs' hanging out of his mouth.
Booth: Dude. Minty burp...still burp.
Hodgins: Who took me to Wong Salmonella's?

Zack still strikes me as a bit too 'normal' at this point. That's where I think writing choices come in. He's cracking jokes that are just completely out of character with later Zack and his manner isn't stilted and unemotional as it is later. But, in this episode we get one of the best side stories in the entire series: Naomi from Paleontology! (Big shout out to Jamie on that one.) Just a week or two before 'The Pain in the Heart' aired I expressed a wish to see more Zack stories like this and it's a bit bittersweet to go back. But I still thoroughly enjoyed it. His cluelessness and constant failed attempts to get help are wonderful.

Zack: She said 'Take a hint.' But when I asked 'What hint?' she said that if she told me what hint then it wouldn't be a hint anymore: it would be a statement. ... I understand the individual words but I do not comprehend her meaning. ... She said 'ask your friends', if I have any.

Zack: What did Naomi mean when she said 'Take a hint'? What did I do wrong?
Hodgins: It's not what you did wrong. It's what you didn't do.
Zack: Where do you learn this stuff?
Hodgins: Some things you learn by doing: riding a bike, driving a car, pleasing a woman.
Zack: I can't ride a bike or drive a car.
Hodgins: Or apparently please a woman.
Zack: I need specific instructions: a list of techniques to implement or a sequence of moves.

Zack: Sometimes if you're not busy I wonder if I could ask you a few questions about sexual positions.
Booth: If you even try I will take out my gun and shoot you between the eyes.

And finally, after putting him off once, Angela comes through.
Angela: When you're with someone, the gymnastics aren't what matter. It's who you are. It's in your intentions and how much you care about the other person.
Zack: If you don't want to help me, just say so.
Angela: All right. I'm going to let you in on a secret. This is a female secret. Go to Naomi and tell her that you don't' know anything about love-making. Sex, yeah. Lovemaking, you're a blank slate. You'll do anything she wants if she just introduces you to the secrets of love. She'll me more interested in that than if you were the most imaginative lover on the planet.
Zack: This is totally counter-intuitive.
Angela: Just do it Z-man. Reap the benefits of my sexual wisdom.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Booth and Brennan are still very much using each other at this point and not getting along at all but the undeniable chemistry and physical banter is already emerging. A budding respect is forming, laying the foundation for the solid, fluid partnership we see now.

I said in my Bones Pilot review that very little changed directly between pilot and show but I think I attributed some changes, mistakenly, to slow evolution when in fact they were pretty starkly altered immediately after the pilot. A bit one is Temperance's appearance. Almost immediately she has gone from eco-warrior to sexy bone-lady. She still has the red hair, which does slowly evolve to brown later, but her appearance in this episode is already a marked change from the Pilot in most other respects. Her hair is loose and glamorous. Her clothes are more feminine and form-hugging, and she's lost the clunky shoes. All are great changes. Brennan's manner is not feminine in the slightest so I think it's vital they find other ways to highlight her femininity so she's someone to whom the audience can relate.

Brennan's big reason for using Booth is for the new experiences he can bring, and she's already trying to take his offered advice to heart. She's attempting to be more personable and learn to deal with people, though she has a very long way to go, and Booth's moods confuse her. She wants to approach people in the same way she approaches bones: with a finite set of rules and she expects Booth to dole them out to her. Only people don't work that way and that's one of the most important things she will learn from Booth: adaptability. She's used to operating under chess-like rules and now she's dipping into Life and finding out that the same rules won't work.

Booth is still treating Brennan like his personal property and she knows it. She calls him out when he says 'my forensic anthropologist' and won't back down. He pushes and she pushes back. She's still a means to an end but she won't stand for it. Booth is used to getting what he wants and pushback is exactly what he needs in a partner and in a partner.

One of the enduring themes with Booth is his respect for everyone, and the corollary that he disrespects anyone who he thinks doesn't respect everyone (head hurt yet?). Mostly this plays out in his treatment of rich people as we see here. He is grumpy and irritable before they ever reach the crime scene because he's already stiffening at the idea of helping rich, entitled people with their problems.

This could also have something to do with his treatment of the squints. He feels that the squints think they're better than everyone and Brennan does nothing to disprove this, instead giving him ample proof for his dislike when she says things like "Some people are better than other people...Some people are smarter than others. There's no use being offended by the fact." But he is and it's completely ingrained in him. To him respect, across the board, is fundamental and vital to a person's well-being. That is one part of Booth that will thankfully never change.

There is a grudging respect building. He compliments her, even using her given name, Temperance, when she gives the victim's mother a bit of peace of mind after the case is solved. And she admits she respects his abilities with people and she'll try to learn from him and she nudges open the door to her world by giving him the card he wants.

The respect is building and the chemistry is undeniable. I admit, I guess I am a little jealous of those of you who saw it build over time. Their relationship is my favorite part of this show and I'll freely admit it.

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I'm going to cut myself off there, but I do have a question for you guys. One of Booth's assumptions is that guys organize organically and girls organize alphabetically. Please, if you read this, drop a quick line and tell me your gender and which way you fall. I am a female and I organize completely organically so I'd just like a little anecdotal evidence to see how it lies with the masses. Thanks and I hope you enjoyed the review!


Emilie from France said...

Sorry for my english but I'm French!
First congratulations for your work it's very well done! I think you really caught the characters and the relationships and I enjoy reading your work .And as a girl I have to say that I organize things like books or DVD's alphabetically.

Carolien said...

Hey I don't know if it's on purpose but the order of the episodes in your review list is not right. The man in the SUV is the second episode. You can find the list on
The order on the bones site owned by Fox are not consistend with the order on, you can tell by the airdates..

I'm female and I organize alphabetically

Great review by the way!

Lucy said...

Hey. I'm girl and if i organise things then its usually colour co-ordinated or by size, not alphabetical that would take too long!!

chariot13 said...

Thanks for the great review. It is always interesting to read other people's perspectives. You pointed out many things I never even noticed.

As for the question, it NEVER ever occurred to me to organize something like CDs organically. When I watched that ep. I was like "Wow, organization by taste, people do that?". haha. As you can guess I'm totally an alphabetical girl. As an artsy person, it kind of makes me sad to realize how structured I really am about some things. Maybe next time I organize my things I'll go for the Booth-way.

ADDhole said...

Carolien proved her feminine bent by needing the shows in aired order - that's the alphabetic equivalent.

I am a guy who organizes organically but with a priority:
3)Highest degree of reference in a single source

However, music is alphabetically by Artist, and then chronologically by date of release.

L said...

I'm a woman and I tend to organize things first by type, and then alphabetically (or occasionally by preference). Example: for my CDs, I first separate into genres (such as rock/pop, classical, soundtracks, and musicals) and then organize alphabetically. For DVDs I tend to keep the ones I watch most at the top of the pile, though to be honest I'd probably arrange them all alphabetically if I had the time and the space to do so.

Anonymous said...

hey evi.......this is a2b......from the

i myself organize alphabetically, but then again i have worked in many video stores and well thats how they do i think i literally took that home with me.....i do believe willi called it anal...but i just call it being organized...although i will say its just with books and dvds and cds...i dont organize my towels or knives and forks alpha there would be a problem i

cupcakebaker said...

hey evi.......this is a2b......from the

i myself organize alphabetically, but then again i have worked in many video stores and well thats how they do i think i literally took that home with me.....i do believe willi called it anal...but i just call it being organized...although i will say its just with books and dvds and cds...i dont organize my towels or knives and forks alpha there would be a problem i

CupcakeBean said...

Another great review! I especially liked when you said, "Booth is still treating Brennan like his personal property and she knows it... Booth is used to getting what he wants and pushback is exactly what he needs in a partner and in a partner." This made a lot of sense.

As for your question, I'm female and I organize most things organically. :)

Milk Mama said...

Let's see... I think when I organize, I usually organize by size or color, unless all of the objects look the same (such as DVD Cases... same size and such) then it's alphabetically... did that make sense? LOL!

I'm female.

Oh... you write fantastic reviews!!!

Mom2ABnTB said...

I'm female and I don't organize at all :)

bugsie80 said...

Female - I do both. CD's are alphabetical then chronological by release date. DVD's are categorized, with the "best" on the top shelves, the "crap" on the bottom shelves. Books, books, books...organized the billions by category, then by author. Some continue chronologically, yet others...favorite ones at the top, crap at the bottom. What does that mean for me?

I can't decide if I should organize like a girl or like a guy? :)

jojo said...

I love your reviews!! I always look forward to reading more..

and I'm female and i organize alphabetically.

Madz said...

Books... I don't organise at all. I grouped the tallest ones at the end but that's only because that's where they fit. The Harry Potter series (xD) is stacked on top of each other because they're too thick to place side by side. Apart from that, no organisation.
In my iTunes library, my music's always ordered by rating.
My clothes are organised by type, but I assume that's probably the same as most people.

Anonymous said...

I'm female and I organize organically (with my own things). This may be because I'm a librarian, and I get sick of alphabetical order by the time I'm home. Or perhaps it's just that I think Dewey Decimal doesn't go quite far enough.

I have, for instance, shelved my Bones DVDs next to my Dorothy Sayers mystery novels. I tend to put my fantasy books together, but group them into fairy tale novelizations (next to King Arthur retellings), into knights and castles, followed by dragons, and going into telepathy and scifi.

Mary said...

I am female and I am definately an Organic kind of girl. I group books, cds, and dvds by genre or by my love for them.

Elaine said...

Wow, a little late on reading this, but just going through all the reviews. You do a great job of outlining everything! Love how the reviews make me look closer at certain episodes and see what I've missed...

Well, I'm a girl, but I organize the Seeley Booth-way, with my favorite things (like DVDs or CDs or Books) in order of preference, with my least favorite objects on the bottom shelves or more out of the way and the best stuff up top.

"Good stuff up to the left; crap, bottom right."


Anonymous said...

I'm just catching up on the site and saw the call to answer this question from long ago, but figured I'd answer anyway! Fun excuse to read the review again.

I'm a gal and I organize genres organically, then alphabetically within genre. So all of my poetry (favorite sort) is on top shelves, alpha by author, but all of my blah work-type books that I don't care about are tucked away on bottom shelves alpha by author. Then there's the top-top-top section that's no particular genre, just favorite artists of any type. Bones would be in the top-top-top of course, except that I keep DVDs separate. ;)

Jessie said...

I'm a little late in the game, but I have just been reading up on all your stuff and I saw this question! I am female and ALWAYS organize organically. My book shelf is proof. Hard cover always go together and first. From there it depends on genre and book size. I do all vampire/magical/fantasy books together, all murder/mystery books together, all romance novels together, and then misc. Not that you totally care. DVD's are the same way.

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