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Bones: Season Four(TV) (2008)
No synopsis for Bones: Season Four.
For more about Bones: Season Four and the Bones: Season Four Blu-ray release, see Bones: Season Four Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 16, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Tamara Taylor, John Francis Daley, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Ryan O'Neal
Directors: Ian Toynton, Dwight H. Little, Rob Hardy, Chad Lowe, David Duchovny, Caleb Deschanel
» See full cast & crew
Bones: Season Four Blu-ray Review
Funny, captivating, and addictive. What more could you ask for?
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 16, 2009
I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for a good procedural. All I need is a strong ensemble with convincing chemistry, an assortment of compelling characters, and a steady selection of riveting cases. No more, no less. In fact, it's that precise television trifecta that makes creator Hart Hanson's Bones one of my go-to favorites in the genre. Yes, there are similar shows with firmer grasps on reality, and yes, there are still others that forgo comedy and focus solely on the murder and mayhem procedural-junkies so desperately crave. But many of those series fail to deliver the witty banter, infectious laughs, effective plot twists, and endearing leads Bones serves up in every episode. It isn't perfect, it certainly isn't for everyone, but it is an exciting and entertaining way to spend an hour of your life each week.
Normally I'd spare you a lengthy series synopsis, assuming anyone reading a review of a show's fourth season is at least well-acquainted with the basics. But Bones is a rarity in today's television landscape in that it's extremely accessible. No history lessons, frantic visits to Wikipedia, or detailed descriptions necessary. Most anyone can jump on board at any point, start with any episode, and discover how quickly and easily they're able to acclimate to Bones' setup, tone, and characters. So here's the plot in a proverbial nutshell. In an effort to solve some of the bureau's most bizarre cases, FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, graciously spared from career limbo soon after Angel met its early, unexpected demise) seeks the help of a Washington D.C. forensics anthropology team led by emotionally stunted crime novelist and unequivocal scientific genius Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel, Zooey's older sister). Her team members include entomologist Jack Hodgins (T. J. Thyne), forensic specialist Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), and a slew of interns who rise and fall in Brennan's department. Booth and Bones not only have to solve some of the foulest murders imaginable, they have to contend with Brennan's boss (Tamara Taylor), an FBI-appointed psychologist (John Francis Daley), and their own budding affection for each other.
In Season Four, the cases have gotten weirder, the murders gorier, Booth and Bones' relationship more complex, and the series' patented charms more irresistible than ever. Whether carefully removing remains from a scrap heap or reconstructing a body left to rot in a barrel of fine wine, the team tackles a variety of challenging, altogether amusing mysteries that lead to some truly fun and fulfilling twists. Granted, each episode follows the same formula it's milked since day one -- a formula shared by eighty-seven other procedurals -- but Bones' blend of humor, character quirks, and blood-n-guts keep it fresh and exciting. Even when Booth gets advice from Family Guy's Stewie via several hilarious animated hallucinations, the series' writers never miss a beat. The fact that such a potential jump-the-shark moment works so well (within context, of course) is a testament to its actors commitment and its writers' inventiveness. From high-altitude forensics to saving a colleague from certain death (a colleague who's subsequently been buried alive), the pair brave the lure of parenthood, Brennan's seeming inability to emote, and Booth's infatuation with his partner. Again, the Almighty Formula is master of their domain, but I find myself continually impressed with how frequently Hanson's show catches me off guard and earns a solid laugh.
Sharp scripts aside, it's Bones' performances that make it more enjoyable than more prominent procedurals like CSI and its ilk. Rather than spend the entirety of each episode tagging along with Booth and Brennan, the camera often lingers, following Hodgins, Montenegro, and the interns as they piece together answers to their own cases. CSI popularized just such a format, but Bones one-ups the granddaddy of modern forensic procedurals by making each character as interesting as the next. I tend to grow weary of the second tier investigators that populate other shows, wondering when any given story will weave its way back to the people I actually care about. But Hanson's writers avoid this pitfall by making every character so fascinating and winning that I'm happy no matter whose car or office the camera settles on. Chalk it up to the series' gags or the team members' individual eccentricities, but Booth and Brennan could disappear for a week or two and the show would go on. While I'm sure every fan will have their favorites, it's a relief to know that an episode will deliver the goods regardless of who fills the frame. If anything, each case brings the team to the doorstep of the same three to four suspects every procedural trots out when there's a murder to be solved. Red herrings and red Harrys abound -- and the killer is often easily identified as "that guy who briefly appears, looks innocent, and seems the most helpful" -- but any genre nut worth their salt will shrug off such inherent issues without a second thought.
It only takes a single episode to know if Bones is the sort of series you'll attach yourself to for the long haul or the sort of mess you won't believe intelligent people actually enjoy. Personally, it has the heart, humor, soul, and spirit I look for in a procedural (or any show for that matter) and continues to find new and satisfying ways to bring me back, week in and week out. Far from a guilty pleasure, Bones is a genuine joy to watch, and Season Four is arguably its most accessible outing yet. Whether you've plowed through every season or never tuned in, I can't recommend this series (and this season in particular) enough.
Bones: Season Four Blu-ray, Video Quality
Though doused in the series' usual steely blues and polished grays, Bones' 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer represents yet another confident and capable television presentation from Fox. Yes, skintones are a tad inconsistent -- the culprit appears to be Gordon Lonsdale's ever-changing lighting schemes rather than some nefarious technical deficiency -- but primaries pop, gore is particularly vibrant, and blacks are suitably resolved. Contrast is also strong, granting the image at-times striking depth and dimensionality. Moreover, textures are refined, close-ups look fantastic, and edges are both sharp and natural. The transfer's clarity is never more apparent than when Bones and her team examines a corpse, enhancing the already stomach-turning visuals with more detail than anyone (short of Bones herself) would otherwise need to see. And the technical image? I didn't detect any unintentional noise, significant banding, aliasing, ringing, or smearing, and artifacts, despite appearing on occasion, are kept to a minimum. All things considered, Bones: Season Four looks great and should easily please fans and newcomers alike.
Bones: Season Four Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Bones' Blu-ray debut is just as effective on the audio front, boasting a strong and stable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that handles Booth and Brennan's banter and the series' occasional action beats with ease. Dialogue is clear and well-prioritized, dynamics are involving, and LFE support lends welcome weight and power to every shotgun blast and bass beat Season Four has to offer. The rear speakers are relatively reserved, often being assigned little more than lab ambience and acoustic properties, but yank the soundfield around the listener anytime a gun is drawn, a car accelerates, or a case is about to crack. Thankfully, smooth pans and precise directionality make even the chattiest scenes engaging, and the series' score is crisp and commendable throughout. Fox's lossless track isn't going to blow any minds, but it does a fine job enhancing the series' atmosphere and tone.
Bones: Season Four Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Fox gives Bones: Season Four the same sad supplemental package it's given most of its television releases of late. First up is "Androgyny: Playing Haru Tanaka" (HD, 7 minutes), an interview with actress Ally Maki about her induction into the Bones universe and her portrayal of an unorthodox prodigy. Next comes "Squints in Training" (HD, 10 minutes), an admittedly entertaining overview of the various interns featured on the show this season. Two dull and unnecessary "Deleted Scenes" (HD, 2 minutes) follow, but should have been kept out of sight, out of mind. A decent "Gag Reel" (HD, 6 minutes) is amusing as well, but offers little more than the usual assortment of line flubs and crackups. Ah well, at least it's all presented in high definition.
Bones: Season Four Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Don't be frightened away by the "Season Four" in Bones: Season Four. Even if you've never seen a single episode, the show is so accessible that newcomers will be able to enjoy Booth and Brennan's cases as readily as series regulars. With sharp wit, hilarious characters, and addictive storylines, Bones is a procedural gem. Better still, the Blu-ray edition features an excellent video transfer and an equally impressive DTS-HD Master Audio track. The only downside? A limp and limited supplemental package. Even so, with such a solid series and such a satisfying AV presentation, what's not to love? Give it a shot... chances are, you won't be sorry.
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