Authorguy's Blog

No Bones About It

Posted on: March 3, 2013


I’ve been getting into the TV series Bones lately. (I know, I know, a lot of you are no doubt saying to yourselves, “But how can you expect to finish your fanfiction series when you’re watching another show?” All I can say is I’m trying my best.) It’s another show like Chuck with a strong central romantic couple with real chemistry to them. Unlike Chuck it doesn’t make romantic angst and its resolution the central theme of the series, which works for me. I was perfectly happy with the idea that Booth and Bones could be the couple they were without feeling the need to make it ‘official’ in some way. The fact that their emotional connection was so blatantly obvious is quite enough for me. I was probably the only one who thought that there was no reason Chuck and Sarah needed to be married, after all they’d gone through. My own ending for season 4 features a double wedding of Morgan and Casey to Alex and Kathleen, with Chuck and Sarah as primary witnesses.

One thing that did bother me about Bones though (the show, not the person), is the way they made her a best-selling mystery author. First of all, we’ve seen that before, from Murder She Wrote to Castle. There’s even an episode of Bones that has murders like those in her book, which was the idea behind the Castle pilot. Unfortunately, I see a lot of ideas redone from one mystery show to another. Fortunately, it’s not the gimmicks that matter, but the characters, and it’s kind of interesting to see the same idea become something very different with a different character dynamic. (I very much liked the High School reunion episode, and couldn’t help comparing it to Chuck’s version. And kudos to Robert Englund for doing such a wonderful job as the creepy janitor!)

What bothered me about her author status was that, given the character of Bones herself, I couldn’t believe that she’d be a good writer at all. I had no doubt that the technical accuracy of her stories would be spot on, like the science of many contemporary SF writers today. But since she has only the most rudimentary empathy or intuition, I couldn’t believe that she could portray a decent character to save her life, like a modern-day Agatha Christie, who for years put me off reading mysteries due to her emphasis on plot over character.

Finally, in a recent episode (I’m plowing through the series on DVD, so for me it’s recent), she gets involved in a case while dealing with an interviewer from Japan, who keeps asking her questions about the characters, while Bones keeps emphasizing the technical aspects of the chapter in question. She finally admits (not that she was keeping it a secret, but she simply didn’t think it mattered) that those elements of the books are supplied by Angela, her friend the sketch artist and her beta-reader, who reads her stories and makes suggestions for the more human scenes. While it’s still not perfect, since I still have trouble believing she could write such a scene once the idea for it had been pointed out, it makes a lot more sense to have someone else as the inspiration. Bones thinks so too, and gives Angela a quarter of the proceeds as recognition of the contribution, once she recognizes it as a contribution. I wonder how many of her fans went home wondering why they came, after hearing her talk about forensics at a book signing. I can only imagine public appearances having a negative effect, like the court appearances she makes.

The next question is, why do they always have to be best-selling?

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4 Responses to "No Bones About It"

This is something that bothered me too, but as you will see it does play in. One of the things I dislike about the show (I love the character dynamics–I tend to develop my characters the same way) is how she is this brilliant forensic scientist, yet she appears to be dumb as a rock. The only way I think they can justify her inabaility to comprehend the basics human emotions is if she lived in a convent or under a rock. She didn’t. She was raised as a normal child in the real world, and I fail to see how this makes her so emotionally stunted.

I do enjoy this show tremendously. I just have to keep reminding myself that the books are NEVER the same as the shows/movies.

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I mentioned the show to my chiropractor. He was less than enthusiastic. A lot of technical detail that I appreciate he doesn’t, since it’s apparently misused in the service of padding the show out to an hour, or upping the dramatic tension, both of which are signs of bad writing to me. In this case I don’t see it, but i have noticed the same problem with both fire extinguishers and computer coding , both of which I know a bit about.
I can take her stunted emotional development at face value, simply because I know people as brilliant as her and they are strange, and I would never try to guess what their response is or should be to what a less brilliant person would regard as a normal experience. It’s a question of her perceptions. On the other hand, I find it strange that she rejects psychology as guesswork but practices anthropology, which she treats as the same art, only on a cultural scale. She accepts Gordon Wyatt’s put-down of psychology as pseudo-science, which it is, but I wonder what her reaction would be to a similar rejection of anthropology for the same reasons.
I’ve been watching the show at a breakneck pace and haven’t had time for rewatching and analysis, so I don’t know if she does this, but I would only have a problem if she started making appeals to emotion and intuition without some corresponding character growth to explain it.

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I happen to love Bones. As far as the book being a best seller: Probably because she can afford the advertising.

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She can now. But who took care of the advertising when she was just a noob? But really I was just wondering why all the mystery writers are bestsellers on these programs. I discovered a show at the library which featured a writer as the MC but I doubt he was well-known, and the show itself was short-lived.
I had an idea for a Castle twist, where an unknown author came on the scene and Beckett got interested in him, and Castle suddenly had to fight for her.
I love Bones too, but for the character chemistry and the supporting players, plus the technical jargon that doesn’t sound like total gibberish. Her author life, not so much.

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