My youngest daughter has recently taken to watching episodes of the TV show “Bones.” This sentence sounds innocuous, but it doesn’t really describe the phenomenon: she watches hour after hour. In a couple weeks she’s worked her way through seasons one through three, borrowing each season’s DVDs from her sister. Inevitably I have seen more than a few of these episodes. At first, I was horribly put off by the eponymous skeletons, and even more so by the crimes. But something caught my attention.
I thought for a while that the interest, at least for my generation, was a little historical. After all, we grew up watching police shows and doctor shows on television, and here is a show that combines the two. Or so I had thought. Perhaps that is what drew my attention. Initially. But then I was intrigued by the “squints,” the geeky scientists. These characters could have been my friends from high school and college, the people I most related with. The show has dialogue that is witty and erudite, qualities lacking on television since the end of “Frasier.” Even better, “Bones” (the show) doesn’t feel the need to repeat every step of reasoning and logic, trusting viewers to be bright enough to follow along and skip the occasional bit: it is intelligent television.
But then the flash of intuition illuminated: the character of Seeley Booth, played very well by David Boreanaz, the same fellow who had brought us the character of Angel from the two vampire series: Buffy and Angel. Booth is not a squint, which is not to say he’s not intelligent; he’s extremely so. Booth is, however, strong, moral, just, a straight-shooter (no puns necessary as the character is not only an ex-soldier but an ex-sniper). He is not only a Boy Scout type, he is knightly in his virtue…his duty is to protect and defend others. Booth is the white knight.
Now, not only is it good to see this sort of character, it is fabulous to see this archetypal Boy Scout not only portrayed well but shown not as a target for mocking, but as a real hero, acted with a straight face and respected and honored by the rest of the cast.
I take comfort in the fact that while my generation is the one that spent decades confusing cynicism and the hermeneutic of doubt with intelligence and “coolness”, the demographics of “Bones” watchers shows the generations X and Next to be not as easily fooled as were we Boomers. If the teens and twenty-somethings can see the values that Booth represents, and valorize them, then mayhap the country is ready to turn a corner and recover from the disastrous 60s – 90s! Thanks be to God!