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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Bones Season Four [Blu-ray]


(Created by Hart Hanson, 2008)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Fox, Far Field Productions & Josephson Entertainment

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



Region: All

Runtime: 19 hrs.

Chapters: 24

Size: 50 GB

Case: Expanded Blu-ray Case w/ flip-pages

Release date: October 6, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 18 Mbps



English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1



English SDH, Spanish & French



• 2 Deleted Scenes - in HD (2:17)

• Gag Reeel - in HD (5:44)

• Androgyny: Playing Haru Tanaka - in HD (6:44)

• Squints in Training - in HD (9:49)




The Film:

Fox seems to have a thing for "Season Four" lately. We've seen The Unit, How I Met My Mother, My Name is Earl, and now Bones. Of all these, Bones is the one least upset by jumping in midway. In fact, there's no good reason not to start here.

The Series : 7
Moonlighting Meets CSI
Early CSI focused on the forensics and deliberately avoided “relationship” issues, offering only the least amount of background information consistent with three dimensional characters. Moonlighting (1985-1989) featured Bruce Willis as a wisecracking detective and Cybill Shepherd as a former model – together they “operate” the Blue Moon Detective Agency. The mysteries and detective work were fairly thin stuff, but the banter of odd couple Maddie & David recalled the days of Nick and Nora, though considerably edgier and often laced with sexual over and undertones.

As permissible language and visuals have become more graphic, so have the corpses, the forensics and the banter. By season four, like Maddie & David, Temperance and Seeley still haven’t slept together and, in place of the real thing, enjoy an ongoing discussion about the nature of sex and its place in relationships. Not all that much related to forensic investigation, n’est-ce pas? Taking the lead from the leads, it seems that the entire main cast has relationship “issues” – usually with each other.


In a series where nearly everyone has a title (“Dr.” or “Special Agent”) and looks like they just stepped out of the pages of Cosmopolitan, it is a little surprising (he said, enviously) that they get work done, but get it done, they do –with enough high tech equipment and brains to go around that it is a wonder that there are unsolved murders left in this country – or England, for that matter, which is where the season’s opening two-parter takes place.

The leading scientist at the Forensic Division at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington D.C. is the celebrated Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel), forensic anthropologist and writer of crime novels. What she has in smarts she makes up for in her lack of social skills. Of the concept of nuance, she doesn’t know from. On the other hand, or perhaps the same hand, the rules she operates by in her personal life strike Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) as specious and promiscuous. Seeley is a straight arrow guy and lives by the Ten Commandments. He knows his way around a conversation and makes his points with a certain snappy flair. Unlike Dr. Brennan, who can read bones like you and I can read the numbers on playing cards, Agent Booth can read people. She manages the science of the crime, he, the motivation. They make a good team and a delightfully difficult couple.

Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) and Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin), the teams’ etymologist and forensic artist, respectively, are forever running toward and away from each other at the same time. The dynamics are a little contrived, but then so are the rationalizations we live by. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor) came on in Season Twp and is the titular head of the team. Her having had a prior relationship with Booth makes for an interesting undercurrent in respect to Dr. Brennan, but for much of the season she is demoted to little more than a cipher. Dr. Sweets (John Francis Daley) is the team’s psychological profiler and doubles as their therapist, an invitation that staff resists like the plague. Poor fellow - it’s hard for him to be taken seriously since he doesn’t look a whole lot older than Doogie Hawser, with worldly experience to match.

Theirs is a highly competitive crew that goes through each new intern that applies at the rate of one per episode, and, as I say, it’s something of a miracle that they have the focus to solve cases. But I suspect that the office interplay is more representative of “real life” than not. As for the typical investigation, Bones is not given to car chases or shots fired casually or in the line of duty. We come in after the crime has been committed so the most we can hope for – if that’s your thing – is the imagined recreation of a murderous moment.


Image: 8/8   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Bones: Season Four is a not representative of the best that High–Def can offer. It is often soft, especially when Boreanaz is in the frame. Hair is generally thick or matted and there is a faint grain that I am not convinced derives entirely from the original shooting material. It seemed like most of the outdoor shots were quite sharp (the shots around London and Oxford, especially so.) Booth was softened more than Bones – I can see that for characterological reasons. Aside from this, the image appears to be defect and artifact free.














Audio & Music: 6/6
The dialogue is clear and properly shaped and there isn't a great deal of work for the surrounds – a little ambiance, mostly – even what little in the way of explosions or gunfire there is does not leap out with a bang. I think this is deliberate, since the show is largely dialogue driven. The investigations are not particularly thrilling or suspenseful – rather they offer opportunity for CSI-like CG and prosthetics and lots of banter. I downgraded the score because of the bonehead post-processing for Ally Maki's character in the episode titled "The Girl in the Mask." This is an actress whose natural voice lies somewhere above High C and to make her plausible as a man they processed the living daylights out of it until it dropped a coupe of octaves. Three problems: If you can't find the right actress, I say don't do it with the wrong one. And if you absolutely must fiddle with the voice, don't drop it so low that it couldn't possibly be a woman's – not with that body anyhow. But the biggest mistake is that the processing resulted in an entirely different acoustic for that voice, as if she were wearing Darth Vader's helmet.


Operations: 6
Here we are again: Why this trend of hiding the numbers of chapter and titles of features that you have to click on one at a time? I still don’t get it.



Extras: 2
Besides a couple of throwaway Deleted features – all 2 minutes worth – and a gag reel, we get to meet Ally Maki, the actress who plays Dr. Haru Tanaka, whose questionable gender totally absorbs the team's attention (see notes under "Audio & Music"). She talks about her approach to the character and how American and Japanese cultures view androgyny. The ten-minute segment "Squints in Training" looks back at the various interns who "auditioned" for the vacant position on the team. It was a fun running gag for the season and enjoyable to revisit it here.

Bottom line: 7
If you’re a fan of the series, you will definitely be happy with Season Four on Blu-ray. If y ou don't know it, you might find it diverting, entertaining and occasionally interesting. It is being released at the same time as the DVD for not a whole lot more money (the sale price difference at Amazon at this writing is only $10.50 for nearly 20 hours of Booth & Bones, making the choice a slam dunk in favor of high-def. Recommended.

Leonard Norwitz
October 22nd, 2009






About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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