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Alynda Wheat's Beat Cop: A moment of silence for 'Southland'

Regina-King_dlLet’s bow our heads for a moment of silence. As we learned last night, NBC snuffed out one of our favorite procedurals, the gritty, fantastically acted Southland. You’d think shoving Jay Leno down our throats for five hours of primetime would be injury enough, but no—they had to add insult. This, NBC. This is why TV viewers are dropping network for cable in ever-greater numbers. Viewers know cable offers the kind of risky, investment-heavy programming that’s rare on network television these days, and what’s better, cable will actually stick with it.

Take a show like Mad Men. There’s very little nudity (I can’t recall any, anyway), almost no swearing, and not much in the way of questionable content. Yet this is exactly the kind of show that would never make it on network television. It’s too involved, asks too much of its audience. It’s a think piece. In its own way, so was Southland. Performances (particularly from Regina King, C. Thomas Howell, and Michael Cudlitz) were inspired, the writing was original, and the characters themselves grew in complexity every week. As a TV journalist, I refuse to join the chorus of those who snipe that network doesn’t do good work anymore—The Big Bang Theory, Castle, and House all disprove that, and that’s just one night—but I certainly understand the frustration. All we can do to counter the networks’ shortsightedness is to continue supporting the programs we love, write a few angry columns and letters, and hope that somebody gets it before their business model runs them into the ground. So let’s at least do one of the three and get to this week’s worthy programming. READ FULL STORY

'Bones' recap: The 'Burbs

Bones-Neighborhood_dlAside from Season 4’s circus episode, I tend to enjoy when Bones sets a crime in a culture that Brennan, an anthropologist, gets to explore. Last night, we hit the suburbs where the remains of a man were found out the bottom of a barbecue pit during a neighborhood’s annual block luau. Sweets earned his paycheck, helping Booth and Brennan to understand that suburbanites identify themselves as one. Cheating your neighbor out of money and screwing around on your wife with a mother and daughter (ewwww.com) are acceptable deviations, and slipping someone’s dog a laxative for peeing on your property only results in shunning — but put up an eyesore wind turbine in your front yard and drag down property values and you will get your butt kicked. If your wife has been giving you saltpeter, a blood thinner, hoping it would keep you from getting an erection, you will also die. (Do you think they never said the word erection because Fox censors wouldn’t allow it, or because Booth stumbling around the word was funny? I’m guessing the latter, considering the number of times they were allowed to say lube as they investigated the sex toy business Bob had started with the victim. Cannot wait for the Season 5 blooper reel. Michaela Conlin was pretty hands-on — “Spoil sport, finding likely murder weapons way too fast.” And I seriously doubt that David Boreanaz didn’t improv a bit with one of those blow-up dolls.) READ FULL STORY

Alynda Wheat's Beat Cop: 'Three Rivers' might need some CPR

My name is Alynda and I am an organ donor. There, now everybody knows and we don’t have to go through any confusion or sticky sitches in the hospital, Three Rivers-style. What did you think of the Rivers debut, the few of you who watched it? (If you missed it, by the way, you can catch it here.) I’m still trying to decide if I’m giving it too much leeway because star Alex O’Loughlin is in my imaginary-boyfriend stable (and we’re pretty serious, with his having met my mom and all). But I’ll try to be objective. READ FULL STORY

'Bones' recap: The prodigy son

I’m subbing in for Mandi this week. I’ll admit upfront: I’m a Bones latecomer. I once thought it was just another procedural, left over from the mid-decade glut of CSI rip-offs (like Crossing Jordan or Medical Investigation). But then my girlfriend got me into the Booth/Brennan supernova-hot chemistry. People compare them to past TV will-they-or-won’t-they couples like Moonlighting‘s David and Maddie, but their flirtatious one-upmanship more resembles the love-as-a-competition backbiting in classic Howard Hawks movies. Yes, half the dialogue on the show is scientific bio-babble; yes, the visual style is somewhere between monochrome noir and Law & Order handheld verité; and yes, each episode overflows with decomposed corpses. But in spite of all that, or maybe because of it, Bones is the most romantic show on TV. READ FULL STORY

Timeslot face-off: 'Survivor,' 'Bones,' 'Vampire Diaries,' and Thursdays at 8

Thursday-night-tv-wars_lIt’s all about Mondays and Thursdays this fall, and tonight’s line-up provides yet another DVR conundrum. What to watch? DVR? Skip? Wait for? Aaargh, the whole night is a smorgasbord, so let’s just look at the 8 p.m. slot for now. Jeeze louise, our TV cup runneth over:

Bones, Fox
Reasons to watch
: Because it’s Bones, and Bones is fun. Tonight’s episode takes us inside the world of rumspringa, aka Amish Gone Wild, which the show will no doubt handle with its signature quirkiness.
Reasons to skip
: Boy do I not give a hoot about Cam’s step-daughter. READ FULL STORY

'Bones' recap: Brennan, Booth and Bond

Bones-Bond-Boot_dlDo you ever get the feeling that Bones‘ producers like to stick it to Fox’s Standards and Practices? This felt like one of those episodes. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard them lament how the censors seem fine with all the violence to living bodies on 24, but get squeamish at the decomposition of dead ones on Bones, and because this hour actually featured a dead CIA spy, excuse me, analyst, and we watched part of his face fall off before one of his eyeballs was popped out. That may or may not have been more disgusting than seeing a handful of cats treat a murdered Russian courier as Kitty Kibble. READ FULL STORY

'Bones' Season 5 premiere recap: 'This all works out eventually'

bones_lBones is one of the shows that I’m so invested in that I actually once slid off the couch in a fit of embarrassingly dramatic (and in my defense, severely sleep-deprived) despair while watching it. So I really wanted this episode to remind me why I love it so much. And, it did. Quickly, we got an explanation for Season 4’s controversial fantasy-filled finale: Brennan was reading Booth the book she was writing while he was in a coma after brain surgery, and his brain processed it as a new reality that will hereby be referred to as his “coma dream.” He thought they were married for days after he woke up. [Insert Ahs.] Brennan was told he’d recover quickly, so she left his side to go dig up bones in Guatemala. (Yeah, I would have canceled that trip.) Six weeks later, Booth was ready to get back to work. But there is one thing I don’t get: In the scene at the start of the episode in which Sweets signs off on giving him his gun back, Booth lists the fact that he hates clowns among the things that define him. So why then would he honk the nose of a clown who interrupts his confession of love to Brennan at the end of the episode? Is he really that fickle now (which is bad), or is the moral that people can change at any time (in a good way)? READ FULL STORY

'Bones' returns with a season premiere that's better than this music video

It’s been four months since the season 4 finale confounded many of even the most loyal of fans, but our beloved Bones returns tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Fox with an episode that makes total sense and rocks harder than the following new music video promo featuring the cast. (Nice idea, if you don’t mind being reminded of “The Lab” nightclub from the finale, but the big punchline never quite comes. )

How are you hoping last season’s cliffhanger — Booth (David Boreanaz) wakes up from brain surgery and some kind of fantasy in which he and Brennan (EWwy winner Emily Deschanel) were married and expecting a baby, then asks who she is — plays out in the premiere? Where do you hope their will-they-or-won’t-they relationship, arguably the best on TV today, heads in season 5?

Come back tomorrow to discuss the premiere. We’ll be recapping all season long, as usual.


Fall TV: Your most eagerly awaited return?

bones-deschanel-boreanaz_lTwo days ago, a colleague loaned me the screener of Bones‘ Sept. 17 season 5 premiere she’d been sent. (I got to keep the striped socks that came with it.) I procrastinated going home that night because I was obviously going to watch it, and if I didn’t like how it dealt with last season’s frustrating finale, there would be no way that the show could ever regain its status as my favorite from Burn Notice. And I wasn’t ready to deal with that possibility. Literally, I had to emotionally prepare to press play. As I finally slid the DVD into my laptop — which seemed a more fitting battleground than my flatscreen for this very personal war — I sighed “Let’s do it” aloud. Presumably, the “us” I was psyching up/putting on alert was myself and my sanity.

It’s at that moment that I realized Bones’ is the return I am most eagerly awaiting. (You won’t get spoilers from me — that’s what Ausiello’s for — but I will say that the premiere quickly explains the season 4 ender and is satisfying enough that I’m looking forward to recapping the show again on PopWatch.)

Which returning show’s premiere are you that invested in, and why? Embarrassing anecdotes about how you handled its season finale and anticipate behaving during its season premiere welcome and encouraged. We’re all friends here.

Photo Credit: Brian Bowen Smith/Fox

Read more:
Michael Ausiello’s latest Fall TV scoop
Ken Tucker’s Watching TV blog
What are the most quotable TV quips?

Open letter to showrunners of procedurals starring actors we'd like to see shirtless

eddie-cibiran_lDear showrunners,

Hi. We know you’re back in production because your Twitter updates tell us so. You’re busy breaking stories, thinking up cases that will play well in syndication and, just maybe, reveal something about your characters. Do not neglect your men’s chests. Look at what the folks at CSI: Miami have already accomplished with new addition Eddie Cibrian (pictured, courtesy of a People First Look). To stop a gunshot victim from bleeding out, he must take off his shirt and use it as a tourniquet. Totally believable. All this required was a little forethought: Presumably, his character, an officer from the Hollywood division who transfers to Miami, does not believe in belts.

We realize this shirt-as-tourniquet routine won’t work for all of you. Fans of Bones, for instance, already know that David Boreanaz‘s FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth loves his “Cocky” belt buckle. Alex O’Loughlin, on his new CBS medical drama Three Rivers, plays a cardiothoracic surgeon who’ll have actual instruments that can be used to apply pressure. Get creative. Both those jobs are stressful — have them work out to relax. Then shower. Or take baths. (We’ve already seen Booth in the tub once, with his beer helmet and comic book — it’s not gratuitous to do it again; it’s continuity!)

We’ll ask our readers to suggest other ways to get your leading men shirtless, so please continue reading the comments. (Maybe Cibrian is really, really clumsy when he eats? Or perhaps he’s prone to getting residue from the crime scene on his clothing, and it has to become evidence each week? If you’re very creative, you can use that to get two men shirtless at once, like they did on NCIS when Sean Murray‘s McGee had to bag and tag his top, and Michael Weatherly‘s Tony DiNozzo gave him the shirt off his back rather than a fresh one from his desk.)

All our best,

PopWatch

Photo credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

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