Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Man in the Outhouse

Three seasons down and this show hasn't grown any more organic. Maybe that's what you get when you watch a Fox drama instead of HBO, but then again The X-Files was on Fox, so . . . Still, Bones and Booth often act more like Peg and Ed than Mulder and Scully.

I don't understand it, when you have actors who are talented enough to convey a lot through subtlety and are appealing, why do you need so much mugging and exposition? Sometimes, it seems that this show is written both to be performed by nitwits and watched by them.

Booth shows up at Brennan's apartment to take her to their latest case and she is entertaining a gentleman caller. Of course, Brennan, ever logical, isn't exactly discomfited by his presence, but she does think he should call first. Booth wonders why. He didn't even know she was dating. Booth enjoys making Mark, her toweled date, feel awkward and, suggesting that things are not as big of a deal as they should be, Booth wonders if Mark is chilly. Of course, he can only be joking because Brennan assures us that Mark is well-endowed and an excellent lover. He's a deep sea diver and an expert bobber, traits she praises so excessively that Booth has to clarify that she is actually talking about Mark's talents below the water.

Now, this is cute, but once they had "bobber" in the script, we could have imagined the rest. We would have implied a double meaning to all of Brennan's comments on our own. Booth didn't have to rub the joke in by actually asking if they were still talking about deep sea diving. 1) It might be funnier if they never said whether they were or not. Brennan could mean one thing and the audience could think another. 2) If Booth needed to ask, David Boreanaz could have easily have done so with a raised brow. No dialogue necessary.

Just as too much kneading removes the air and makes dough heavy, too many words explaining the obvious leaden a show.

Brennan says that Mark is a way on dives for a long time and that absence sharpens his sexual needs. So, he's very exciting to be with physically. But she sees (she fines the word "dates" too confine by traditional expectations) another man, Jason, for mental stimulation.

Booth says he believes in monogamy, the way God intended. Bones counters that monogamy is unnatural. I don't mind this discussion because I haven't seen the show in a long time, BUT I know they've had this conversation many times before. I don't know that they should write the series expecting that people will watch episodes months apart on DVD like I did. If you are actually watching week to week in real time, I think that Booth and Bones conversations became repetitive a long time ago and I'm only on the 4th season. There are 5 seasons of identical character-defining proclamations to go.

Their case ties into Brennan's personal contretemps. A reality tv host, Bill, has been found dead. He framed cheating spouses by having a beautiful woman lure them into a hotel room, video-taping them as they became amorous and then "busting" them on camera, revealing that the whole thing had been a set up and their infidelity was now proven. Bill's murder contained so much malice (he ended up having his body dumped in an outhouse) that his killer was probably one of the angry men he entrapped. Sweets watches tapes from Bill's show to see which one of them fits the profile of a savage killer.

As Sweets describes the mentality of a cheater, Brennan objects. She doesn't think the urge to have more than one lover is wrong or unnatural. Sweets wonders how Booth feels about Brennan dating. Even looking at Sweets as their therapist, considering all the past sessions they have had and the many times he has asked this same question in a different form, I simply don't understand why we're still getting scenes like this. If Sweets had never been created -- and he's growing on me now, but sometimes I still wish he never existed -- the audience would have asked what Booth's true feelings were without prompting from a psychiatrist. It's best just to have Sweets working on their cases and to stop have him commenting on Booth and Brennan because his doing so is just a reminder of how dumb the show thinks it's audience is. Moreover, presenting their relationship as something to be analyzed week in and week out, is a barrier to its being something that viewers simply enjoy.

Ironically, the writers realize this in a subplot. They bring in Daisy, Brennan's newest assistant. It would be comical if Brennan continued to get a new one each week, just like having Murphy Brown's secretarial temp change each week became a running gag on that sitcom, 25 years ago. Anyway, Daisy is so eager to please Brennan, her hero, that she can't stop preening and emphasizing her own skills, to make herself more attractive to Temp, who barely notices her -- or would have it appear so. Daisy chatters aimlessly to Jack and Cam trying to convince them how alike she and Brennan are and what a good fit they will make. The fact that she has to say it, proves that her conclusions is entirely wrong. Camille dryly advises Daisy not to talk so much and to leave an air of mystery. Daisy is intelligent, but tries too hard, lacks perception and cannot see that the very traits she boasts of so often, along with the boasting itself, are the ones Brennan will find the least attractive.

Although, she definitely helps them break the case, Daisy is summarily fired. But not onscreen. We learn that Daisy's a done deal casually, in passing at the end of the show, making it all the funnier. Bones, Hodgins and Cam never discussed Daisy together. They never talked about how their residual feelings for Zack may have motivated them to give Daisy a harder time either. Daisy rubbed them all the wrong way, for reasons the audience can consider on it's own. We didn't have Sweets analyzing why the squints rejected her (although he doesn't, not after she flatters him). We know enough about them and their past and Daisy's obnoxiousness is so patent, that the inherent conflict between them does not need to be voiced. I wish this was true in the main plot as well.

Many of the problems in Daisy's pushy, perky personality are symbolic of the show's flaws in general.

Booth and Brennan get Noel, a stalker from a past episode, to help them track a suspect. It's strange because since this guy has focused on Brennan before, you'd think they'd want to steer clear of him, rather than encourage his perverted tendencies. I mean, I guess in the past they made him seem more dangerous than he actually was, just so we'd suspect him as the villain, but even so, his obsession is not exactly harmless. Why wouldn't they just put a detective on the trail, rather than paying a weirdo 50 to follow someone? Booth cautions him not to zero in on Brennan again, but actually a cautionary word is not enough to deter a true psycho. It's funny, but too screwy for a show that is actually supposed to be a drama with humorous elements and not a surreal comedy.

Talking with Cam and Angela, Brennan and the women discuss how men think they're the only ones who can be interested in seeing more than one person at a time. They always have to sympathize with male feelings and Angela notes that you end up cradling them and telling them, "don't worry, it happens to everyone". That makes me wonder how she and Hodgins are coping since her ex came to town. They don't seem awkward when they are in scenes together. On the other, they don't interact and seem at ease either.

Learning that Brennan is going to meet her platonic suitor for dinner, Booth leaps at a chance to interrupt their meal. He takes Sweets with him to the diner to interrupt them. Of course, Sweets has to ask if Booth knew Brennan would be there. Not only is the question unnecessary, but I think Booth already told Sweets that Bones had a date back at work. So, Sweets should have had express knowledge of the rendezvous, if not implied.

Booth grills Jason lightly. Has he ever been married? No. Does he have children? Well, Jason said he'd never been married, how can he have children, he asks of Booth? Sweets interjects that Booth has a child and has never been married. Of course, Booth doesn't seem self-conscious about this fact and maybe it would have been funnier if he was. Hard to say. The people on this show often say invasive things to each other that get no reaction and you wonder if the "joke" was supposed to be that they don't respond. For instance, when the squints get too personal with Booth and Brennan. The thing is, if they don't care, then it's not really too personal is it? But sometimes they will care. They'll say, "mind your own business" one week and spill all of their pillow talk the next. Sometimes, they're embarrassed. Sometimes, they're completely indifferent.

After meeting him, both Booth and Sweets quickly conclude that the reason that Jason is satisfied with only a platonic relationship with Brennan is because he is gay. He consumes fruit tarts, mint tea and listens to Coldplay. Does Brennan need any more proof that Jason is a homosexual they wonder. Coldplay. The mens' jocularity combined with the effortless way Bones both ignores their taunting, while providing seriously responses to comments which don't deserve them is quite charming. Emily plays several layers at once. She's nerdy and unaware one second, sexy and vain, the other. Over-confident, insecure. The transitions are quick and seamless and when an actress can do that, then you don't need to broadcast them.

Why does the fact that Jason enjoys her company without sex so strange, Brennan wonders. How can it not be, Booth counters and looks to Sweets for affirmation. 'Well, you are very hot,' Sweets comments. He is embarrassed by his schoolboy candor. Booth gives a look that says, "I wanted back up, but not that kind. Way to expose yourself, buddy." Brennan changes the subject. It's so smooth and enjoyable you wish all the scenes could work like that.

When the case is solved we learn that the killer was not a stranger that Bill busted. It's a jealous co-worker who wanted to get back at Bill for dating the guy's old girlfriend. Brennan too feels the sting of jealous lovers.

Mark and Jason run into each other at work. Mark wonders why Brennan never wanted to do anything with him outside of bed. Jason wishes they had a more intimate relationship and is insulted when he meets the brawny Mark, because Temp never gave him the chance to stimulate more than her mind. And what is Booth in all of this, both of them demand to know. Booth insists that he is just the business partner, nothing more. "Gay Jason" dumps her and after a failed "outside" date between Mark and Brennan, Mark breaks it off too.

In their therapy session with Sweets, Brennan says that maybe monogamy isn't so bad at all, if it reduces the frequency and pain of being dumped. Booth consoles her and Sweets wonders if they often discuss their private lives with one another, again a question he's already asked. Are we supposed to forget all the discussions Sweets had with them last year?? Booth says he just has to counsel her, because she has bad taste in men. True, she does. Brennan says that she sees nothing wrong with being open about her sexual life. (Not this week anyway. Next week, she'll be complaining that her privacy is invaded). Sex is a natural physical urge. She wonders why should she be as secretive as Booth is? He never discusses his lovers, but she assumes that he has them. Booth replies that he does ok. Sweets says that they use each other as surrogates and that makes it harder for them to form outside relationships with third parties.

Booth asks Brennan if she'd like to go to dinner to cheer up. She agrees. Sweets wants to go too. They retort that they use each other as surrogates and that makes it hard for them to form outside attachments, so he's out in the cold. Nice.

Left alone, he calls Daisy and says that now that she's no longer working with them, would she be interesting in going out on a date. Well-played.

There's some nice blocking when Booth and Bones go through doorways. They both try to go at the same time (meaning he's not letting her through first as a woman and she doesn't expect to get through first as a woman, but demands immediate entry as his equal -- or better). The door frame can't fit them both and they end up almost colliding. This happens twice during the episode and will give me cause to watch their entrances more closely in the future.

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