Appeals, rewards, and Bones
Yes, I'm a fan of police procedural dramas. There - I've said it now.
I know why I'm drawn to them, too. It goes back to intermediate school: when I was 11 years old, a SOCO - a scene of crime officer - visited the class, explained what he did for a living, and showed us what was in his investigation kit. We tried out the fingerprint powder and we saw the selection of nifty tools, and I decided I wanted to be a crime scene investigator. As you may have guessed, that plan didn't turn out too well.*
We like procedurals because they deliver on our expectations. When we tune in for an episode of Criminal Minds or CSI, we know how things will play out for the next hour or so - a crime will occur, an investigation will take place, a criminal will be brought to justice.
Or as Glen Creeber explains in The Television Genre Book, "in recent years ... there has been a proliferation of police, detective and crime drama, with endless variations and reworkings of a basic formula in which society is protected and the status quo maintained by the forces of law and order."
As I've started to scrutinise my viewing choices more intensely, purely through writing this blog, I've begun to look for something more in the procedurals I watch. I'm no longer satisfied by open and shut cases, predictable narrative structures, and one-dimensional characters. I'm looking for something more rewarding, something deeper.
I think that's why I find Bones so entertaining. Yes, Brennan and Booth take us on the same kind of journey each week. Yes, the supporting characters - Hodgins, Angela, Sweets and the rest - play the same, minimal role in each episode. And yes, (nearly) every episode starts with a new case and ends with an arrest. But there is more to Bones than that.
It starts with the interplay between our leads. Brennan (played by the other Deschanel sister, Emily) and Booth (David Boreanaz) have a really interesting dynamic, originally the odd couple thrown together by circumstance, but developing into a much more interesting partnership based on their love and appreciation of each other. If anything, their relationship, rather than the appeal of the procedural format itself, is the driving force of the show, the reason to tune in each week.
The setting is an important part of Bones' appeal, too. Other shows are happy to set themselves up in a lab, or spend time philosophising at crime scenes, or bring cookie-cutter suspects into badly lit interrogation rooms. Bones centres itself on physical evidence, but it also goes into the field. The suspects are colourful characters, different every week - like last night's nearly-divorced couple, who brought a few laughs. Crime scenes are introduced through burning bodies with exploding brains that were recently dropped down a construction site rubbish chute.
It's the little things, y'know? Those little things keep me entertained - the varied settings, the interesting characters, the investment in the partnership at the centre of the show. Those little things become the very reasons I prefer a show like Bones over something like Criminal Minds, or CSI, or Law & Order: SVU.
Bones is one of my favourite crime procedurals. Do you love Bones as much as I do? What do you love about the show? Or, if not, what are your favourite crime shows on television?
(*) I'd still like to be a SOCO one day, y'know. If only I didn't have to pass the pesky physical first.
Here's a look at what is coming up next week ...
Detective Lewis is back on, uhh, Lewis (Prime, 8.30pm), investigating the murder of a girl who posted at an online dating website. Later, documentary series Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead begins (One, 10.30pm), followed by an encore showing of the criminally underrated Leigh Hart's Mysterious Planet (One, 11.30pm).
Daytime TV gets a boost with the return of Dr Phil (TV3, 1pm) and The Biggest Loser Australia (TV3, 3pm). Later, another documentary series, Someone's Daughter, Someone's Son (One, 9.30pm) pretty much guarantees we'll be hearing John Farnham's You're The Voice at some point, and Denis Leary post-9/11 comedy-drama Rescue Me gets a repeat showing from the beginning (SoHo, 10.30pm).
Aside from a wedding episode, tonight marks the final episode of reality show Seven Dwarves (One, 9.30pm).
Fast Four is back in effect, bringing an all-new episode of Glee (Four, 7.30pm) - Season 4 Episode 11.
New Kiwi comedy Agent Anna, starring Robyn Malcolm as a reluctant real estate agent, makes its debut (One, 8.30pm) before new episodes of quirky comedienne Miranda (One, 9pm). Later, Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder: The Big Clear Out takes us back inside the world of hoarders, even though nobody really wanted to go there (One, 9.35pm).
After what seems like an eon, the final of The Block Australia is here (TV3, 7.30pm). Personally, I'll be tuning in to the IRB Sevens World Series in Wellington, with games airing live throughout the day (One, 12.30pm-6pm and 7pm-10.30pm).