Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Season 4 Cast Promo Image

I've been either avoiding my computer or working on the gigantic Yanks in the U.K. review I posted. I totally missed this. Here's a great entire-cast shot for Bones Season 4. Thanks for the heads up, Sarah!

Other Season 4 shots:
Booth/Brennan - Dance Studio
Booth/Brennan - Park Bench
Temperance Brennan/Emily Deschanel
Seeley Booth/David Boreanaz
Camille Saroyan/Tamara Taylor
Jack Hodgins/T.J. Thyne
Angela Montengro/Michaela Conlin
Lance Sweets/John Francis Daley

Yanks in the U.K. - Media Reviews

You can read my 4,000 word + wall of text about Yanks in the U.K. below, but here are what some of the people who get paid to review it have said:

TV Squad
BuddyTV
GiveMeMyRemote
TVGuide
TheWindsorStar

Others I missed?

And what I think has to be the best moment-by-moment recap I've seen (kudos!).

TVChitChat Part 1
TVChitChat Part 2

Bones Episode Review - 3.19/3.20 "Yanks in the U.K."


I'm with Cam when it comes to mulling. I had to mull this one for awhile.

At first, I liked it, but it was too packed.

Then, I didn't like it.

When I realized why I didn't like it, I started liking it again. Re-watching it cemented this.

I realized that I don't ever like season premiers. It's fundamental in their design to be irritating to show veterans. The hope, from the show's perspective, with every season premier, is that new viewers will join the fray. Add that to the tendency for even the show faithful to forget details and you get the dreaded necessity of rehashing old news and reiterating relationships. Was it necessary for Cam to again talk about how everything goes through her? For Booth and Brennan to say what Zack did? Well, yes.

The finale, much loathed, of Season 3 undeniably did something good for the show. Ratings for this premier nearly hit the same level as the finale, which is a huge jump from the Season 3 premier ratings. Fox has promoted Bones heavily, even off-network, and all of that leads to the undeniable truth: new people must be watching.

And new people need info. What does each person do? What happens in the lab? Why are two of the people outside, and the rest in? You don't want to offend the vets, but you don't want to lose the new people. And, one of the most irritating things, the characters may not act exactly like themselves. In this case, I think that is very apparent in some of Brennan's lines. She's the hardest character for many to relate to, and therefore the most likely (and most necessary?) to be tuned down just a bit for the newbies.

But I'll get into her in a second. With all that said, there is a part of this episode that I dislike, and can't be laid at the feet of "It's a season premier."

It was far, far too packed. Typical episode structure is an A story, which in Bones is virtually always the Case, a B story, which is a character arc and occasionally also a C story, a lesser character arc. Limiting to 2 or 3 story-lines to follow makes the episodes far easier to understand and follow. I feel that Yanks was drastically over-packed. And that can't be blamed just on dual locations. They've done that before and not had such a problem.

How many thread were there?

  • Case (one or two, they were done separately so I only count that once)
  • Booth's cultural problems in England
  • Angela & Hodgins
  • Birimbau
  • Clark Edison
  • Brennan and Wexler
  • Dealing with the death of a partner
This bothered me. They left out so many great parts from spoiler clips, like Booth interrupting Brennan with his funny demonstration and "I need a spanking", they left out the double-decker bus scene roundly discussed by both David Boreanaz and Hart Hanson, and I felt like they left out many important details for every aspect of the show. They reference things that we didn't see over and over and that just didn't feel like a real episode of Bones in that respect. It didn't flow as well, have the comfortable structure, and wasn't as easy to follow.

But, I still liked it okay. I'd probably give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I do hope that most of this can be attributed to it being a Season premier, the funky order of writing and shooting, etc. I hope that now they have pulled people into the show, they can keep them, but also show them what Bones really is. Love your veterans too!

One more note: it had to be light. Post-finale we needed an easy, fun jaunt, and I think Yanks did that. The touched on Zack lightly, wrapped up Birimbau quickly, had a lot of fun and tried to move us all back to the joy of Bones. They needed that. I needed that. It's exactly what I hoped for coming into the premier. It wasn't completely satisfying but it was a good ride.

On to the long part!

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Bones has traveled before - to Washington state, to the desert, to L.A. (hah) but never so far as in this premier. The jaunt across the pond created special challenges, beautiful scenery, and a whole lot of humor. It could have been handled poorly, but I think it worked out well. Both Indira Varma and Andrew Buchan talk about having to adjust their lines just a bit to fit true British manner of speaking, but both are very firm in stating that the basic writing was very good. As my travel has not extended that far, I couldn't possibly speak to the accuracy of the cultural representation but I think they heavily laid the silliness and mistakes on the Americans, giving honor to the Brits where possible. Well, other than the codpiece. But, c'mon, who wouldn't make fun of that?

The English version of Booth and Brennan made a great mirror to our American pair. On the professional level, they simply work differently. Pritchard investigates, Wexler analyzes. The find it odd that Brennan investigates with Booth. On a more personal level , they also show an opposite relationship to that of Booth and Brennan. Where Booth and Brennan are exceptionally close, but not romantically involved, Pritchard and Wexler have been sexually involved but don't seem all that involved, or even interested, in each other's lives. That distinction is just just for us. Booth highlights his dislike of sex-only relationships, which we have seen many times before, but Brennan is still on the fence about it. She appreciates Pritchard's attitude but also deeply respects Booth. Booth is very firm in his attitude toward the subject, Brennan still wavers.

Individually, I had different reactions to the British counterparts. I loved Pritchard, for the most part, and greatly disliked Wexler, though he did make me smile on occasion. Pritchard was fun, confident, and human. She admitted how much Wexler's death had knocked her off her game. She was honest, but not obnoxious, frank in her opinions and appreciations (including Booth), and very open to working with the Americans. (Something to do with Booth, maybe?)

Wexler, however, grated on me from the moment he opened his mouth. I found him utterly obnoxious and irritating. He wasn't the lovable rogue to lived by charm. He had charm, but it was the forceful kind, that just pushed at you over and over until you gave in. He had to say how good he was. I found him rude and I was not sad when he died. Whew, how's that for harsh?

Case-wise, we have 2 different ones to examine: the murder of Portia Frampton and the subsequent murder of Ian Wexler.

The first time I watched, I barely paid attention to either. I'm always focused on the characters first and this episode was so packed with so many different threads amongst the characters I had little capacity to think about the cases as well. Someone died? Check. It took awhile and a few turns to figure out who did it? Check. That was it.

On re-watching, I paid a bit more attention. I felt that the second case was better than the first. Mostly because, the first case wasn't actually solved. The butler confessed, but did he even do it? Was he ordered to do it? It was a lightly humorous wrap-up to the case but unsatisfying. They catch the real bad guys. They aren't supposed to just accept a confession. I think we're supposed to assume they worked to find out the truth but, yeah, still not a fan. Funny, but don't like it in the end.

Wexler's death had a better story, I feel. First, we start out with a new twist on the crime scene investigation - they know the victim. Brennan almost slept with him. Pritchard did sleep with him. Pritchard is off-base and upset and Booth and Brennan together comb the crimescene and figure out the clues. There is a healthy group of suspect options - the father of the first victim, radical preservationists, his mates, an angry palace guard, and even Cate herself. The reveal of the student killer was far more interesting than "the aristocrats did it" resolution from the first case. Even Granny felt that the murder motivations in the first case were blasé. I agree!

Skipping back to D.C. (Booth and Brennan are forever the coup de grace) we have a lot going on.

The first Zack replacement is a familiar face, Clark Edison. Opinions are divided on him, but I love him. I not-so-secretly want him to be the end-choice replacement for Zack, but I'm not sure he will be. Hodgins has said before that Zack is irreplaceable and it's true. But I think in Clark's case, he works a little too well. He didn't make for the fun, goofy experiment pairing of Zack and Hodgins but you could tell that Hodgins liked him. I think he worked a little too well. There wasn't enough to keep the dialog interesting between him and the others, in the way that Zack did. They had to resort to creating a plot-line to accomplish that: his dislike of the atmosphere.

It's a running debate among fans: more science, or more characters. I love the characters. I want a good backing of science to keep it from becoming too soap-opera-ish but a little drama is prevalent in most every workplace. Clark hated it though. He's firmly interested in science and winning the game. I'm not sure whether we should read more into his departure on that note or not. Was it just a funny ending? Were the writers just trying to highlight that constant tug-of-war between science and characters to the new viewers? Were they trying to say something about which way the season will head on that debate? I don't know.

But, like I said, I like the guy. He's funny in his own way. Mostly, he's just brutally honest.
  • That's a big dude.
  • Today I'm alone and happily dating multiple women so I can focus on my work.
  • I don't have to be included in everything.
  • I just want to work in a regular lab.
Even if he doesn't join the regular cast, I hope we continue to see him around. At the least he provides the accountability the lab lacks when Brennan isn't there. Cam provides some, to a degree, but in general she's no longer nearly as intrusive as she was in this episode and the soap opera continues unabated without someone to give it perspective. They didn't listen to him, like they listen to Brennan, but at least someone was there to say it.

Alas, we have met, and said goodbye to, the elusive Birimbau, or Grayson Birasa, as he prefers to be known. In Season 3, he was forever the unknown, god-like mystery husband. God-like in the flesh, too, apparently:
Angela: I don't need Hodgins seeing everyone gawking at him like he's some kind of god.
Cam: He is some kind of god. The best kind.
He swoops in and instantly brings the foreshadowed strife. Did anyone else find it odd that Angela jumped him like that? She's a free-spirit and all but, seriously, why?

I think they cast him well, and he was very well played. I really don't have much to say about him. I found his character's actions consistent with pre-conceived notions and faithful throughout. He was governed by 'the Universe' and the universe spoke. He committed completely to any action - be it Angela, or giving up Angela - and followed through accordingly.

That said, I'm not a fan of his aftermath.

Hodgins was classic in Yanks. I loved him from the start.
  • British slime! So much more proper than American slime.
  • No worries, our lips meet all the time.
  • You're a saint, I get it.
  • I thought women liked it when we fought over them.
  • I see no holes in your logic.
  • Regulate yourself.
  • I'm a grown-up. I don't need a middle-man.
  • I'll have our all-powerful leader send the request.
  • Oh, God. So now everything is fine?
And my favorite:
  • I am sorry to be so cranky. Which is my basic personality so it seems stupid to apologize for.
He seemed to like Clark. He's not a fan of change, but then, he has been around the guy before. Clark already proved himself to the team in Verdict, by assisting Dr. Brennan. I felt that he and Clark worked very well together. Too well. Bye bye Clark.

Angela felt somewhat off to me, which makes sense with Birimbau around. As free as she is, I just found the jumping in his arms off-putting. I won't be too hard on her though, this was a big angsty pile of no-fun for Angela all around. Which leads me to Hodgela.

She did get to be the cool chick with toys, for at least a scene, though. For a moment it was like old times, she was figuring out something very important, using her cool technological tricks...but no one got it. Booth finally connected but it fell flat for everyone else. I loved it, Angela. Keep it comin'!

I make no secret of my feelings for Hodgela. We even discussed it fully in the recent podcast rumble. I don't like them. I think they came together very sweetly and naturally but since then I really don't think they've been realistic at all. Hodgins has forever been a doormat, with Angela just steamrolling him. They never have a real fight like a healthy couple.

They've also never been really tested.

And, when they were...they fell flat on their faces. They don't know how to deal with adversity together. They don't know how to say "we have a problem, let's fix it." It's just "We have a problem. Bye." I knew ahead of time they were busting up in this episode, but I still found it dissatisfying, at least in execution. It was so unemotional. They are more emotionally invested in work-place arguments than they were with the relationship-ending fight. I am fully behind the fact that we needed a quick resolution to the much, much drug out story of their quest to get married, but this just left a bad taste in my mouth.

I hope the followup and fall-out is much more interesting.

I feel that we took steps backward with Cam, in this episode. Cam finding someone other than Booth to sleep with is drastically overdue and I was really looking forward to her finally getting a solo plot and some fun happiness. But, alas, it was just used to make everyone dislike her.

I didn't like her self-described introduction of parachuting into Booth's bed 2 seasons ago. But she's earned her way back from that with most fans. But here, in the Season 4 premier, we take her back to a controversial, annoying, intrusive figure. She's in everyone's faces about their work and yet again sleeping with someone she shouldn't. Can't she find a decent date? She's a very attractive woman.

Is she forever supposed to be the person we hate? Can't we bring Bancroft around, from time to time, do do that? He works really well for that. Most of us really wanted him to be Gormogon, he's so roundly disliked.

She did have a few good one liners, as always.
  • Women is an unacceptable generalization.
  • Are you saying our victim was attacked by an abalone?
  • Booth shouldn't be behind the wheel. He isn't adaptable.
  • Security cameras, people. The building is full of security cameras.
  • Earth-shattering sex, and breakfast? I can die a happy woman.
  • That's some kind of code for you, isn't it?
  • It was tough to take you seriously at first. You con't even look ald enough to drive, so I thought 'how could you possibly have any valid insight.' ... doctorates don't teach you about sexual matters, and being so young...
And, I did like her overhearing the "you're special" exchange between Booth and Brennan and smiling about it. I don't think anyone should worry about her going for that bed again, at least not emotionally. She knows the truth there.

I like Cam, please don't make her the one to perpetually hate.

From recently saying that I'm still somewhat on the fence about Sweets...the man-child owned this episode. He rocked every scene. He gave great advice, was made fun of, tripped flat onto his face on the street, and did very funny things. How could you not love Sweets here? Granted, I still hope Booth and Brennan have it out with him, but with everyone else...he proved his worth.
Sweets: Oh my God, poor Hodgins. Wow. Look at that guy.

Sweets: Angela, men are idiots. Seriously.
Angela: Just to be clear, are you a man or a boy? ...
Angela: He had a little gay crush on you.
Sweets: He did? Oh man. That explains a lot. ...
Angela: Which brings us back to "all men are idiots."
Sweets: See how I worked that? It's because I'm so good.

Sweets: Can I touch the brain, just once? As a reward?
Cam: Just once.
Sweets: Squishy. (Eww, seriously)

Cam: Is there no better way to put that?
Sweets: Everything else sounds worse.
I found him the perfect mix of boy and intelligent doctor. Without Booth making him look like an idiot, he seemed less annoying. Though, he still did a fantastic job of doing that himself, with a little help from Angela. It will be very interesting to see how his dynamic fits once Booth and Brennan are back and he's back intruding into their partnership and relationship.

He does seem sort of listless. He's just always hanging around there. And, to a question from the live chat - he's still in the same FBI office. I think Hodgins, Angela and Cam just carted themselves over there.
Sweets: Thank you all for coming.
Angela: Cam said we had to.
Hodgins: Or lose our jobs.
Cam: For insubbordination.
Sweets: I was kind of hoping you all came of your own volition.
Unfortunately, they put all the cultural mistakes and gaffes of the trip to England on Booth. It makes sense, to a degree, but still felt off balance between the partnership.

Booth is very comfortable on his home turf. With his gun and his procedures nothing slows him down. Take him across the pond, give him different regulations, a different culture, and most importantly, take away his gun and Booth is a bit off-kilter. I felt like he was a bit odd, at least professionally for most of the first half, being far more concerned with bad coffee and the like. I think he regained himself a bit toward the end, and was fully back in gear by the time they were in Wexler's flat evaluation his murder.

I wish we'd seen some of the cut scenes. I think his interruption of Brennan's speech would be pretty classic, and who wouldn't want to see him in the described double-decker scene? He was funny and very Booth-like throughout. But he lacked the perception we normally see.

I liked his characterization of Wexler. Booth believes sex is part of commitment, it's not something to enjoy for it's own sake. Every time he tries, he ends up wanting to commit more to the woman he's with. He may still be very conflicted about Brennan but he's not wavering on his principles.

In that light though, I'm not sure what I think about the mutual flirting with Pritchard. Cate is obviously very interested in Booth, in the same way she was interested in Wexler. Booth returned the interest, at least to a point, almost inviting her to come to him. He didn't pursue the easy conquest while there, but would he follow through back home, if given the chance? I don't know. I kind of felt like Booth was all over the map, relationally, in this episode. He was intent on keeping Wexler and Brennan apart, while claiming to be there to help her pick out a guy, and he was espousing his dislike of one-night stand pursuits, while flirting with exactly that in the form of Cate.

Quotable Booth:
  • He's better dressed than I've ever been. He'll get all dirty.
  • Getting out of this thing is like being born.
  • I need a spanking. (I don't care if that was only in the promos.)
  • I hate London. I hate Englad. I'm glad we had a revolution. Bollocks...What is so hard about making a cup of black coffee?
  • Hold on girls, lets get out of this toilet swirl.
  • A real butler would offer to take my hat.
  • That's one large cup. Probably to scare the sissy French.
  • What is this place on the weekend, a dungeon?
  • England is not good for my personal dignity.
  • Fine it (putting his gun away) just feels wrong.
  • Without a gun, I'm practically naked.
  • Tomato, potato.
  • You and me, we're the real deal.
  • I thought the British were all frustrated and sexually repressed.
  • Think they ever made a Frankenstein in this place?
  • Live by the bone, die by the bones...s...sorry.
  • Don't you start explaining things to me now.
I felt that Brennan was sometimes perfectly on target for her character, and sometimes way off in right field.

Obviously Brennan has traveled for her work. Anthropologists are rarely confined to one location and travel to offer expertise. She must be used to dealing with different cultures. I thought they did a good job in finding other ways to make her social awkwardness clear in the U.K. The class dissertation in front of the aristocracy was classic, very in-character, Brennan.

I didn't like her disregard for having killed again. The first time she killed, it affected her greatly. Now she claims to be able to put it aside.
Brennan: I want a gun. I'm a very good shot and I've killed before. It didn't bother me as much as I thought.
I just don't buy that! I really want there to be some moment where they deal with that but I doubt they will - the most logical person to bring it out of her is Booth and for one thing, I doubt he wants to reopen the "you should have told me" debate and for the other...if those two were to have any really deep discussion of the night it would be disingenous for it to not be a step forward. Ain't happening. I'll just go grumble in a corner.

I loved quite a few of her lines:
  • Keen as ketchup. (She's an equal opportunity offender when it comes to colloquialisms.)
  • It's a polite country.
  • Tell him he can have a gun. (I found her defensiveness of Booth across the pond very interesting.)
  • I noted several physical responses to his presence that can only be explained by sexual attraction.
  • I turned down my chance to sleep with Robin Hood?
  • Is that bad? To congratulate someone on a divorce?
But especially the answering machine. As pointed out in the live chat, it's not professional, but holy cow, it's funny.
Brennan: Technically you have not reached Temperance Brennan. But if you leave a message it will reach her. Me.
It actually seemed that, at least after Wexler's death, she spent more time in the lab (British style) than she does at home anymore. She was responsible for all the examinations and coordination, while Booth went out without her a few times. It worked well.

I thought that her willingness to reject sleeping with Wexler, simply because Booth said not to, very out of character for her. She's never asked Booth who she should sleep with and always been very clear that she enjoys sex simply on it's own merits, she needs nothing more. She admires Cate's attitude: "You have a strong sexual appetite, and you're not hamstrung by social moralizing." Why would she put that aside for Booth, while not pursuing Booth in the slightest?

As always, I feel that Booth and Brennan are two people dancing around the truth. Everyone around them is trying to get them together but the moment they have intimate discussions, go through something trying, etc, they push apart.

I am glad they maintained their fluid partnership. It even seems to be kicked up a notch now. More than once in this episode they work together silently, or with a quick word, to deal with something. All it takes is a quick whisper from Booth and the plan moves forward, they change course as one, or take over a situation.

On the converse of that, Brennan was very defensive of Booth. She wanted him to have a gun, she disliked Cate's treatment of him at the start, and she was completely deferential to his relational advice.
  • Brennan: Why are you talking to him like that? You asked us to stay. You gave him a gun and everything.
They had some really telling moments in this episode.
Booth: News flash for you: There's not a guy in this country who wouldn't want to have sex with you. Probably half the gay men too.
Brennan: Are you being nice about me or awful about British men?
Booth: Wexler is not special. You are. ...
Brennan: You think I'm special?
Booth: Of course I think you're special. Yes.
Brennan: Thank you. I will take your romantic advise under advisement.
I have a feeling Brennan is getting closer to something, but it's not something Booth is going to like. She seemed to greatly consider Cate's advice.
Cate: Word to the wise, Dr. Brennan. I'd encourage you not to forgo Everest.
Brennan: Well, it's too late, Ian is dead.
Cate: Yes, of course. To whom else would I be referring, other than Ian?
She didn't at all try to push it away. She didn't say that we don't do that, Booth would never, I would never...nothing. She simply considered it. I wouldn't be surprised to see her push toward exploring Cate's open sexual relational model (which we've already seen via promos, so I'm not great prognosticator there) and even possibly become open to the idea of the same with Booth. I don't see him jumping on that.

I loved the use of two different locations, in lieu of the dinner. They had a dinner-esque encounter at both the Tower Bridge and a lighter version at the pub near the end. That's a cultural necessity, of course, since they were thousands of miles from the dinner, but also may be setting us up for scenery changes this season, after a few episodes. I'm a dinner fan, but as long as they keep the intimacy, I'll live with it.

Fun Booth/Brennan:
Booth: The royals hate bastards.
Brennan: Only the ones who don't make King.

Booth: She's having a tough time with this. I would too, if you were killed.
Brennan: Well, yeah, you're sentimental that way.

Cam: Booth shouldn't be behind the wheel. He isn't adaptable.
Booth: I'm Mr. Adaptable and the mirror is the size of a thumbnail.
Brennan: What do you expect when you rent a car the size of your thumb?

Brennan: I can take the wheel, I'm an excellent driver.
Booth: Thank you, Rainman, no.

Wexler: Does your cowboy want to tag along?
Brennan: Don't call him that.
Wexler: Why, would he find it insulting?
Brennan: No, he'd love it.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~

I could say so much more, and I'm sure the moment I post this I will think of 5 other things I wanted to talk about. But I will spare you.

For those who don't care about the reviews, apologies for the long wall of text in your face (though you're unlikely to read this line anyway).

For those who enjoy them, I'm sorry it took a few days to get this one up. I hope you enjoyed it. And now, off to read all of your thoughts!

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