Character Spotlight: Bones

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by Judi

Show: Bones

Character: Temperance Brennan

Well-Played By: Emily Deschanel (sister of Zooey, 2nd Round Grand Master of the Deadpan Delivery)

Basically: Bones is based on a series of books by real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, following the travails of Dr. Temperance Brennan as she solves murders with the might of her enormous brain and knowledge of bones and anthropology, her hunky FBI agent-partner and her loyal team of lab “Squints”. If you’re thinking about looking to Reichs’ books as further adventures of our favorite nerd-doc, then you’re in for a surprise- the books are extremely different from the show with the same name. And for the first time in my life, I’m going to go ahead and say that the (small) screen version actually prevails over the book.

The Love. My God, the Love: Dr. Brennan, or Bones as she’s called by her partner Booth (Buffy‘s David Boreanaz), could’ve been such a one-note character. If this show was as strictly procedural as, say, NCIS, you would’ve been bored to tears in the first five minutes. Bones is super brainy, dry and has a love of reason and rationality so stringent that, in other hands, she would come off dull and worse, cold, especially considering that she’s surrounded by a bunch of supporting characters who are so cuddly and adorable that you’re thinking of naming your teddy bears after them.

But with a few magic facts and Deschanel’s completely understated and undervalued performance, we see something different. Brennan may put up a wall but it’s because she was abandoned by her parents and, to a lesser extent, her older brother Russ at fifteen and sent into foster care. She may seem completely out of it, socially (like, say, taking everything everybody says completely literally. The girl doesn’t even know basic slang) but it’s obvious that this isn’t out of some kind of pretentious superiority complex. The fact is that, at heart, Bones is a seriously lonely, isolated woman of her own making. It makes her vulnerable, sympathetic and, dammit, funny as she tries to increasingly come out of her shell and join the world at large. It also makes her mistakes harder to bear and the loyalty she inspires in her staff and her partner even sweeter.

Favorite Moments: “She doesn’t like to be touched.” Booth to a suspect, who Brennan has just flipped over onto the sidewalk for putting a hand on her arm. (Did I mention she’s into martial arts and guns?)

Not surprisingly, all of my favorite moments involve Bones hurting people. She’s just so staid and pretty, that it’s a thrill to see her appreciation for violence (not unlike myself), breaking a serial killer’s hand in prison, shooting a stalker in the throat, completely beating the crap out of a guy in a suit of armor (and winning comic-book-nerd Sweets’ heart for acting like a total superhero), stuff like that. I’m also a sucker for the early episodes when she shares her experiences as a foster child, almost getting fired for it in the process when she refuses to assume like everyone else that the “kid in the system” is the guilty party.

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