Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Fox, Far Field Productions & Josephson
Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Runtime: 19 hrs.
Size: 50 GB
Case: Expanded Blu-ray Case w/ flip-pages
Release date: October 6, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
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)
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
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
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.
captures were ripped directly from the
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
Audio & Music:
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 22nd, 2009