Certain shows seem to only grow in quality over time. The number is few, of course, because no show is immune to the eventual wearing down, even if it starts out strong. In Bones case, the show started out a little rough and breezed long through three additional seasons effortlessly. The shows mixture of humor, drama, and superb character interactions are what keeps it so alive and fresh feeling. With this seasons rotating list of lab attendants to help replace Eric Millegan’s character who got written out of the show (although he does make a rather surprise appearance here in the fourth season), the show managed to stay as fresh as ever…up until it’s lackluster finale, at least.
Temperance Brennan is a highly skilled forensic anthropologist in Washington, DC. FBI Agent Seeley Booth calls on her to assist with investigations when the standard methods of identifying a body are useless – when the remains are badly decomposed, burned or destroyed beyond recognition.
As upsetting as last season’s finale was, those who picked up the DVD set were no doubt relieved a bit to find the set didn’t leave off there, as it included the first couple of episodes from this fourth season to help fill out the set (seeing as it was a shorter season due to the writers’ strike). Still the disappearance of Millegan’s character was going to leave a definite hole in the show and as much as the chemistry between him and T.J. Thyne’s character is missed…the show honestly still works. It helps that the season shifted focus onto Booth and Bones a lot more heavily, especially towards the end of the season, but also the rotating roster of new “squints” into the mix was a welcome change up.
Of course some of those characters got written out too (although they seem to be all coming back again so far for the shows fifth season). But for the most part the rotating cast helped liven the show up from week to week and there wasn’t a single character I didn’t like seeing pop up again—they all were quite brilliant in each of their roles for different reasons. And, again, Millegan did pop up ever so briefly…and just long enough to drop a rather massive bombshell on John Francis Daley’s character that has yet to come up again in the show. Slightly disappointing as it seemed to shine hope on Millegan’s return…but we’ll let that one fester for awhile longer, I suppose.
Really this twenty-six episode set contains not a single “stinker” in the set. Well aside from that finale…man, what were they thinking? They’d built the season up into a solid culmination element with Bones and Booth’s relationship slowly moving towards something…only to be stonewalled into a brain tumor subplot that eventually dissipated within the first couple episodes of the new season. Seriously, we’re only a few weeks into it now and it’s already like the brain tumor never existed; occasional mentions of it here and there, but for the most part there just isn’t much discussion of it.
But that element aside, this really was a solid season. I questioned the odd supernatural style elements that Booth was witnessing and barring one strange bit with Bones interacting with one of his hallucinations, they were all pretty much explained away by the brain tumor. So any lingering doubts I had bout the overall quality of the season were pretty much explained away by that…including the odd inclusion of Stewie from Family Guy. When I heard about that “cameo” I wondered just what the hell was going on…but all was fine in the end.
Aside from the characters, however, the season was just packed with superb stories all around. Interesting mysteries and rarely are they ever too easily pegged as to “who done it;” while other series like Castle try to create a blend of the chemistry and atmosphere that Bones has established, very rarely are they able to pair it with a something as unpredictable as this show brings each week. Then again, unlike Castle, it has the whole anthropologist “shtick” to work with, so half of the coolness is just not knowing what everyone’s talking about half the time (ala Lie to Me or House).
In any case this season comes Highly Recommended. Not only just because of it’s astonishing number of episodes but also just because they’re all so worth watching. There isn’t a single dull one in the bunch and it’s something that only gets better as it goes on. I truly envy anyone who can sit down with this set, having not seen a single episode as it’s just such a fantastic string of episodes that never fail to entertain.
Entitled the “Body Bag Edition” for no discernible reason, this season arrives on Blu-ray (a first for the series) in a standard double wide Elite/Viva Multi-Pak combo set. Housed inside are the five discs without any inserts or booklet; disc contents are printed directly on the discs themselves, all of which show various different bones of the human body. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and the extras, while not plentiful, are enjoyable at the very least.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded (@18mbps) transfer, although the packaging notes that it’s “@18 or higher mbps,” which isn’t terribly descriptive. There are quite a few moments where it peaks above 18 so not sure why didn’t just put 20 something down…but whatever. The important thing is that this show looks as good as it should and…it does. There is slight compression on occasion simply due to the nature of cramming 26 episodes onto five discs, but overall it’s a very nice transfer. Excellent detail, vibrant colors and just and overall fantastic visual transfer. It’s definitely a step above the 720p broadcast that Fox sends out, at the very least.
Audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and combined with Sean Callery’s weekly awesome score and the various gruesome sound effects that get splashed on the screen this is quite an enjoyable DTS mix. Not quite as powerful as one would expect at times and the surrounds are limited to idle crowd chatter most of the time, but there are more than a few good bangs and booms to rattle the walls throughout the season.
Extras are all packed onto the fifth disc, although there are several “extended cuts” of episodes spread throughout the set. The breakdown is as follows:
• The Perfect Pieces In The Purple Pond (extended episode)
• The Doctor In The Den (extended episode)
• The Girl In The Mask (extended episode)
o Deleted Scenes
o Gag Reel
o “Androgeny: Playing Haru Tanaka”
o Squints In Training
A decent mix of extras, if a bit light. The two featurettes are nice and the gag reel is entertaining as always. The selection of deleted scenes is hit or miss but still enjoyable. I could’ve done with a commentary or two, especially since Boreanez directed and episode this season (“The Bones that Foam” – one of the more “what the–?” episodes of the season). But overall it’s a decent mixture…this series has never been overloaded with bonus features, so this is par for the course.
Overall a Recommended set. There’s a certain rewatchability about this series so picking this one up to own would be a wise idea…it’s got plenty to come back to and watch again (and the trio of extended episodes is nice).
Bones – Season 4 (Body Bag Edition) is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.