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Television Collision: Jumping the Shark Before It Bites You In the Ass

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer


In my podcast last week I discussed the penultimate episode of Season 6 of Bones, “The Hole in the Heart”, and complained that it wasn’t daring enough to kill Vincent Nigel-Murray and advertise it as “a major character death”. I felt that once again the show had missed its shot at greatness, which really was just the latest entry on a long list of complaints I have going against the show. But before you reprimand me for being too critical, let me hasten to add that Bones is also one of the shows I am most loyal to, one of the very last shows I would ever abandon, no matter where it takes me. We are often strictest with the people we love most, especially when we see they have potential they are not tapping in to, so this is the approach I have with Bones.

I demanded a brave move by the show, a “creative leap of faith”, and that is precisely what I got in the Season 6 finale, “The Change in the Game”, so I am not complaining anymore. In fact, I think attacking one of the central issues the show has grappled with for years – how do we couple up our two central characters without falling victim to the Moonlighting curse? – head on the way the show did with Bones’ pregnancy reveal was one of the best moves I have seen on television since House fired the original ducklings! I say Bones jumped the shark before the shark came up from behind and bit the show’s ass and now Bones has to prove it can ride the waves standing on the sharks’ back!

As much as I could gather from various online sources, the Bones fandom is vastly split in its reaction to the Season 6 finale, in which Bones revealed that the comfort sex she and Booth had the previous week led to her becoming pregnant (we shall assume that more time passed within the show’s universe than did in our universe, for plausibility’s sake).
After the atrocious way the aftermath of the Gravedigger episode in which Bones and Hodings were buried alive in a car was handled (meaning that it was never truly addressed again and both characters seemed to suffer for only about 10 minutes without any lasting effects), I hadn’t been very hopeful about getting any relevant fall-out from the death of Vincent Nigel-Murray.

And in a way, I was right. The teasers promised us that “one of their own” would not make it through the last confrontation with the Sniper killer. As much as the penultimate episode tried though to make Vincent’s death dramatic and meaningful, ultimately it fell flat precisely because he wasn’t an integral part of the group and – taking the show’s history of abandoning emotional continuity into account – it was to be expected that mourning for him would not last long, because it would put a serious damper on the comedic aspects the creators are so desperate to integrate (I’ve said this before, they define their show as a “crimedy”, i.e. a crime mixed with comedy, a concept that still boggles my mind).

Hence I wasn’t surprised not a single character mentioned the events surrounding the sniper and Vincent’s death in the finale anymore, and yet Vincent’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain, because it did have consequences, and big ones at that. Before Booth and Bones have even attempted to be a “normal couple”, they are faced with the prospect of becoming parents.
I am the first one to admit that I am not particularly fond of pregnancy and baby storylines on television. They are fairly predictable and once started, leave little leeway for anything else. It always has to be explained who is taking care of the baby while the parent characters are off doing something else, and even during the pregnancy phase, the female character can be unable to partake in some of the crucial action because of her “state”.

Launching into another pregnancy season right on the heels of having just finished one with Angela and Hodgins might be nothing short of insane and yet it may just prove to be genius at the same time. How often do viewers complain about films or TV shows not being “realistic” enough? Well, you can’t get any more realistic than having characters of a certain age one by one starting serious relationships, getting married and having babies. At a certain point in life, that is just what happens and I don’t even have to look around my own circle of friends and the two weddings I attended this year alone to know that this is true.

Executive Producer Stephen Nathan acknowledged precisely this in an interview over at TVLine.com. There are a lot of stories to tell when you have a situation like the one Bones’ Season 7 is presumably going to present: one couple who already has a baby and is then constantly doling out well-intended advice to the couple that has yet to go through it. I can see all kinds of humor deriving from interactions between Hodgins and Booth alone, Hodgins trying to explain things to Booth about childcare and then Booth not-so-gently reminding him that he already has a son and therefore knows what he will be facing.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Booth’s and Bones’ baby is not born yet and who says it ever will be? I know this is a terrible thought to have, but this is TV after all, so we are allowed to entertain such dark thoughts without it being morally questionable. After all, it’s not a real baby.
That said, I wish Emily Deschanel nothing but the best in her real life pregnancy, which we have to take into account when looking at the reasoning behind the move to give Bones and Booth a bun in the oven.

I would rather have the pregnancy integrated into the show’s storyline than having another case of the Grey’s Anatom-itis or How I Met Your Mother-itis: both shows had to cover up pregnancies by two leading ladies in the same or in consecutive seasons (Ellen Pompeo and Chyler Leigh on GA and Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders on HIMYM) and I got so sick of the frames that only showed the females from shoulder upwards or the giant handbags that were used to cover up their ever-growing bellies.

I understand some of the fans’ complaint about the Bones baby move though: they feel cheated out of all those romantic moments they were hoping to get, which would eventually lead up to Bones and Booth deciding to give it a go as a couple. I, too, was outraged in Season 5, when the writers seemed to effectively have slammed the door for a B/B romance shut forever in their 100th episode. I felt cheated out of the emotional pay-off the show had been building towards for five years. And yet I think with this Season 6 finale we may actually finally get this pay-off.

When I look back at six seasons of Bones, I believe we have already seen Booth and Brennan “dating”, even though it wasn’t explicitly called that. But they have shared honest conversation, both light and serious, they have split an order of fries, they have gotten drunk together, they have comforted each other in hard times, they have even celebrated holidays together (don’t you remember that episode when Booth and his son showed up outside the jail where Bones’ father was detained with a little Christmas tree they lit up by hooking it up to the car battery???). All these situations not only displayed what good friends Booth and Brennan are, they conveyed a deep-running love both of them have for each other. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

If anything, it is completely clear to me that these two would walk through hell for each other, so why would I need to see them start the whole process all over again? Not every couple starts their relationship through the traditional steps of “they meet, they date, they go exclusive, they are a couple”. On the contrary, life most often has other plans and couples find each other in a myriad of different ways. Booth and Bones are both such distinctive characters and individuals, I wouldn’t believe a classical love story between them anyway. In the same breath though, it was always clear that eventually the show had to bring these two together and yet we all expected Bones to have learned from the mistakes of previous shows that have dealt with the same dilemma. The “will they – won’t they” chemistry is never easily diffused and more often than not leads to blunders a la Moonlighting or pointless back-and-forth a la MerDer in Season 1-4 of Grey’s Anatomy.

So the best tactical move Bones’ creators could pull was to avoid the jungle that is the fluffy pink world of dating by grabbing a liana and swinging to the other side of it. Or – if you want to stay in the metaphorical water-realm – by jumping onto that shark’s back and attempting to ride it to safety’s shore.

It is too early to tell whether this daring move will pay off in the end, because it depends on how the storyline is handled in Season 7 (and beyond). It could very easily go very, very wrong and dismantle the most important relationship of the show in ways that can never be fixed subsequently. But it could also all go very, very right and the creators may soon be able to claim they were the ones who found an escape from the eternal trap that is the “will they – won’t they” dynamic.
Here’s your chance to become TV legends, Hart Hanson & Co., don’t fuck it up!

 

 

 

Need more TV coverage? Listen to a new “Television Collision: Podcast Extra”, Episode 7 below.

 

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Join the discussion by commenting below or following us on Twitter: @cc2konline and @PhoebeRaven!

Author: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

Born in Germany, lived in the US, now in the UK. Always taking my love for TV and writing with me. Life participator. Blogger. Gaming enthusiast.

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