Bones: Season Four (Blu-ray)
Directed by Chad Lowe et al
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 1052 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
MSRP: $ 69.99
Release Date: October 6, 2009
Review Date: October 20, 2009
A half dozen or so years ago, there began a subtle change in the television series procedural. The serious criminology of the three Law & Order shows along with the in-depth science severity in the three CSI franchise outings began to give way to lighter tones in both network and cable procedurals. Now with such mystery procedurals as Castle and The Mentalist on network television and Psych, Burn Notice, Leverage, and The Closer scoring big ratings on cable, it’s never been hipper to be breezy and light in spirit while investigating a crime or pulling off a caper. Among those programs that have benefited from a more jovial approach to crime solving is Bones, one of network television’s premiere procedurals that mixes smart mystery plots with a brash, slick, and sexy team of investigators set on discovering the truth amid some of the most grisly murders imaginable.
Foremost to the success of Bones is the undeniably endearing chemistry between its two leading actors: David Boreanaz as crack FBI agent Seeley Booth and Emily Deschanel as genius forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan. The give and take between these two marvelous actors make even the weakest cases the team investigates a delight: he a take-no-prisoners ex-sniper with an aversion to cold logic and scientific doggerel and she somewhat lacking in social skills but with a brilliant mind and a childlike innocence in the face of sometimes unspeakable horror. She works at the Jeffersonian Institution in Washington, D.C., under the thumb of institute boss Dr. Camille Saroyan (Tamara Taylor). Under her are particulates expert Dr. Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) and artist, IT guru, facial reconstructionist, and best friend Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin). Assisting on cases and also part of Booth and Brennan’s psychological team is young Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley) whose desire for respect and to be an accepted part of the team makes his continual efforts of overcompensation some reliable laugh-inducers.
With the elimination of Brennan’s assistant Dr. Zack Addy (Eric Millegan) at the end of season three (though Zack does show up for a couple of memorable season four episodes), the show begins with season four a round-robin carousel of seven interns, all with endearing and unmistakable quirks. Among the most appealing of the seven who rotate throughout season four are Ryan Cartwright as Vincent Nigel-Murray, knowledgeable possessor of all-things trivial (which he shares freely much to the irritation of the entire lab), and the all-American, down-to-earth Wendell Bray (Michael Terry) whose normalcy in the midst of the lab’s overwhelming eccentricity has been a breath of fresh air for the show. Eugene Byrd as the super serious Clark Edison and Carla Gallo as the eternally chattering Daisy Wick (who becomes a rather unconvincing love interest for Dr. Sweets) also make notable appearances this season.
Season four boasts some very strong and even frightening cases, none more so than another appearance by fiend The Gravedigger who, after kidnapping and almost destroying Brennan and Hodgins during season three, effectively abducts Booth this season and hides him in a nearly impenetrable fortress. Booth’s brother Jared (Brendan Fehr) makes several notable appearances this season at first seeming to be a potential love interest for Brennan (since the showrunners know better than to pair up the two stars yet for fear of destroying what makes their chemistry so special a la Moonlighting), but later evincing some problems which both Booth and Brennan must handle. Brennan’s father Max (Ryan O’Neal) is on hand again this year, freed from jail during season three and now teaching science in public school. Two other brilliantly plotted and funny cases involve Booth and Brennan joining a circus undercover to discover the murderer of co-joined twins and Brennan and Booth solving a murder under the gun aboard a jet headed toward China. The season finale was a very controversial episode, a coma/dream scenario in which all of the familiar characters in the show, both regulars and recurring characters, took on different personas for this mystery of a murder at a nightclub called The Lab run by Booth and Brennan, now married. Though disliked by many, a return visit shows some very strong and witty writing and offers the actors a chance to play different characters from their usual series personalities.
Here are the twenty-five episodes from season four contained on the set’s six Blu-ray discs. The episodes with an asterisk (*) indicate shows which may be viewed in either televised or extended mode:
1 – The Yanks in the UK, Parts One and Two
2 – The Man in the Outhouse
3 – The Finger in the Nest
*4 – The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond
5 – The Crank in the Shaft
6 – The He in the She
7 – The Skull in the Sculpture
8 – The Con Man in the Meth Lab
9 – The Passenger in the Oven
10 – The Bone That Blew
11 – Double Trouble in the Panhandle
12 – Fire in the Ice
13 – The Hero in the Hold
14 – The Princess and the Pear
15 – The Bones That Foam
16 – The Salt in the Wounds
*17 – The Doctor in the Den
18 – The Science in the Physicist
19 – The Cinderella in the Cardboard
20 – Mayhem on the Cross
21 – The Double Death of the Dearly Departed
*22 – The Girl in the Mask
23 – The Beaver in the Otter
24 – The Critic in the Cabernet
25 – The End in the Beginning
The program is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented on Fox at 720p. These 1080p transfers (using the AVC codec) constitute a noticeable improvement in color and image stability. Though sharpness is usually quite accurate and pleasing, the focus puller on the show occasionally errs and the transfers of those shots seem overly soft. Elsewhere, however, flesh tones are lifelike and appealing, and black levels are impressively deep. Each episode has been divided into 12 chapters apart from the season premiere.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is one of the more impressive ones currently featured on network television. Music and sound effects swirl around the viewer during the episodes, and while more could obviously be done with the sound in the surrounds, what’s here is an advance on most network television procedural series. The LFE channel also gets periodic workouts from experiments in the lab that sometimes backfire to amusing effect.
There are three extended episodes (see shows marked with an asterisk above). The added material accounts for no more than two additional minutes of programming, but fans will welcome any excuse to spend more time with their favorite characters.
There are two deleted scenes which may be viewed separately or in one 2 ¼-minute group. The scenes are presented in 1080p.
The season’s gag reel, one of the funnier ones I’ve seen lately as the cast struggles with all of the scientific jargon they must spout, runs for 5 ¾ minutes in 1080i.
“Androgyny: Playing Haru Tanaka” allows actress Ally Maki 6 ¾ minutes describing her experience in the episode “The Girl in the Mask” where she played the androgynous doctor whose sex the lab personnel pondered throughout the story. It’s in 1080i.
“Squints in Training” finds five of the actors who alternated each week as the interns in the lab to discuss their experiences making the series. The longest of the featurettes, this runs 9 ¾ minutes in 1080i.
There are 1080p trailers for Prison Break and My Life in Ruins.
4/5 (not an average)
Bones is one of the breeziest, most entertaining mysteries currently being broadcast on network television. A delightful cast with great chemistry and some crackerjack mysteries make a series that has justly earned its popularity. The fourth season set may not have the greatest list of bonus features, but what’s here is welcome, and the video and audio are clearly superior to what’s available from the network broadcasts. Highly recommended!