“Bones,” Fox’s latest attempt to join the already overflowing bandwagon of forensic crime dramas, follows the basic recipe already overdone by the “CSI” franchise: an emotionally distant, antagonistically hotheaded and intellectually brilliant protagonist, a cool-headed tough guy hiding a soft spot for his victims and a widely varied cast of off-beat supporting characters. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, “Bones” is unremarkable, and breaks no new ground in the ever-increasing network attempt to dig out the perfect crime show.

Jess Cox
“Professor Plum, in the library, with the wrench.”
(Courtesy of Fox)

Based on the real life of forensic anthropologist and mystery novelist Kathy Reichs, “Bones” revolves around Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel, “Boogeyman”) and her role as a lab scientist with an uncanny ability to find evidence from bones. Because of this, the FBI consults her to assist in their investigations, bringing her into contact with Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz, “Angel”). Rounding out the cast are several quirky forensics scientists, the requisite ambitious and overly forceful boss and of course, a necessary touch of political intrigue to add some realistic controversy.

In an attempt to set itself apart, “Bones” plays too many of its cards too soon. Dr. Brennan’s personal life is quickly and abruptly exposed in a series of awkwardly played and scripted moments of vulnerability. A blatant attempt to imply some sort of sexual tension between Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth is burdened by a clumsy narrative frame and an implausible situation.

The pilot’s plot, though initially compelling, unravels in an unbelievably neat and suddenly uninteresting way. Unfortunately, the series’ slightly novel premise will probably be undermined by a storyline that attempts to cram too much into a single hour. Characterization is unwisely bulked up at the expense of weak plot. With an eye toward developing the relationships between Dr. Brennan and her colleagues, especially Agent Booth, it will be difficult for “Bones” to keep up with its own agenda.

Deschanel plays her stereotypical character well, but the excess of camera shots of her pensive face and serious eyes breaks the show’s rhythm. An inexplicable scene where she pieces together a decomposing skull to the tune of Howie Day’s “Collide” basically sums it all up: Dr. Brennan takes herself too seriously. Boreanaz, fresh from his role as another brooding, secretly sensitive mystery solver, plays his role as Agent Booth with obvious comfort. The slight chemistry between Deschanel and Boreanaz doesn’t seem to be headed for any successful route. At this point, it looks like there won’t be any convincing love scenes for a while.

In the end, “Bones” falls prey to its own predictability. Bare touches of humor do nothing to improve the show’s mediocre plot and cliched cast of characters. It remains just another crime show, with nothing of interest to separate it from the many others. However, it might be lucky enough to ride on the wave of forensic-induced viewer-frenzy to maintain its spot on Fox.

TV REVIEW: 2 out of 5 stars

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