On a purely technical level, I can understand how Bones has survived to an eighth season: it’s a competently written crime procedural (which is like printing money in TV ratings most of the time) with a great cast with lots of chemistry led by the talented Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz. Once you start watching though, it’s hard not to feel like the show is haunted by the formulaic character dynamic of the first five seasons and that the writers are trying to change but failing and slipping back into that rut. For far too much of the show’s duration, the character of Bones experienced little to no development for the sake of a tired running gag that she’d constantly fail to read people’s body language or seemingly obvious communication cues because she has a level of autism. In its eighth season, Bones finally has its titular character growing thanks to a blossoming relationship with Booth and their child – and yet it doesn’t take long before the writers pull them back into dysfunction.
The season starts with the resolution of the seventh season’s cliffhanger-ish ending of Bones having been framed for a crime by computer whiz Christopher Pelant (Andrew Leeds) and going on the lam with her and Booth’s daughter. As would be expected, Bones’s taking their daughter on the run for a couple months causes a bit of a rift between the crime-solving duo and it’s the perfect excuse for the duo to fall back into their pattern of bickering and misunderstanding. Meanwhile, they solve crimes involving an impossible tumble, twin troubles, mercenaries, a roller derby, strippers, and a viral outbreak.
What’s so frustrating is that it’s clear the writers are capable of developing characters in a fashion that allows for growth as the supporting cast’s relationships all take turns, for the better and for the worse, that feel natural and in line with how the show has been handling them. It’s just the Booth and Bones relationship that has seemed to regress back to a previous degree so the writers could use the jokes they’ve become far too reliant on. An episode where Bones makes a conscious attempt to use humor in her process might be the best example, as it’s essentially a summary of how the writers have treated the character from day one: watch the stiffness of Bones’s demeanor and her inability to connect with people easily make her jokes awkward. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Season 8 is an unnecessary step backwards and it’s unfortunate the writers felt the need to shove the Booth and Bones relationship back into the box they were most comfortable writing.
Despite its character development deficiencies, Bones looks fantastic. It’s truly a beautifully filmed show and on a good HDTV it’s one of the more attractive crime serials out there.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The set includes a gag reel, deleted scenes, a singular audio commentary, a Q&A session with Bones, and a featurette on the show’s fans.
"Bones: The Complete Eighth Season" is on sale October 8, 2013 and is not rated. Crime, Drama. Directed by Dwight H Little, Ian Toynton, Jeannot Szwarc. Written by Hart Hanson, Kathy Reichs, Dean Lopata, Michael Peterson. Starring David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, John Francis Daley, Michaela Conlin, Tj Thyne, Tamara Taylor.