OK, so I made a decision. It’s a quiet period, of necessity, just now, thanks to the writers’ strike. We’ve talked a lot about the episodes we like and I have spoken about the reviews we used to write weekly when I was a frequent visitor to tv.com/bones. Well, pitilessly regardless of length, I am going to re-post my reviews here, with the intention of stimulating some much-missed Bones discussion. Hope they give you pause for thought!
Stay where you are, people, I need a bit of ... help ...with ...this ... wine...that's it, thanks, just put that one to chill and this to chambrer. And I'll go grab those bowls for the nibbles. You've done a nice job with that tree. Love the scent of pine. OK, don't look; I'm putting the presents underneath. It's lovely and warm in here after all that snow outside.
Good. Scene set. I shall recline on this beanbag thing and tell you what I think about The Man In The Fallout Shelter.
Well, it's just Christmas in a screen package, isn't it? It does things which are apparently clichéd but *work*. The atmospherics, the shorthand in the first minute to get the feeling across, the party, the music, the mistletoe. And it's all about real giving and the meaning of Christmas without being 'Hallmarky' (yes, DB, I will resent that comment on this ep for the rest of your natural life). In fact, there is a lot of mutual comparison going on in those sleeping bags. Jack and Zach compare their ideal Christmas celebrations, Goodman and Booth compare their kids and, though Angela and Brennan don't particularly discuss it, there is the implicit beginning of a comparison between Brennan's situation and Ivy's.
As I have said before here, all excellent series have a quarantine-type ep so the characters get a chance to bounce off one another in a confined space and give us a little more of themselves. And they deliver! We find out loads about their families - Zach's huge extended Lutheran bunch, Booth's little boy, Goodman's daughters, Angela's dad and even a wee bit more on the Christmas Brennan's parents vanished. Hodgins is the only one whose past remains something of an obvious gap. Attitudes to Christmas and religion are covered in some detail and we get a handle on what will become a serious point of conflict for BB in S2.
The gift theme runs throughout. Booth is trying to convince Brennan that just because a gift goes both ways and gives pleasure to the giver and the recipient, this does not mean it is a selfish and self-promoting consumerist act, and Angela tries to get her involved with the Secret Santa for exactly the same reason. It takes her gift to Ivy Gillespie to soften her enough to finally open her carefully stored present from her parents - perhaps the start of healing, given that she seems to be forgiving them. Of course, there is a genuine physical gift exchange and this is important because these people are really thinking about one another and asking themselves what their co-workers would like. Interesting that both Booth and Hodgins come to Brennan for advice and are turned away! Anyway, what they end up giving is understanding, and a bit of themselves, so the warm light on their faces does indeed suffuse giver and receiver. Especially when Booth nearly shakes Zach's arm off. Notice that Brennan's phone calls are overlaid with the others making and wrapping their presents - because the phone calls are her gift. That's why we all dissolve into tears at the end when Ivy says, "What could be better? You've given me back my life." And if we hadn't got the message, listen to the music as Booth carries Parker off at the end - there is just a smidgeon of 'The 12 Days of Christmas'.
There is so much more I want to say about this episode! As I was watching it, I was suddenly struck with the beautiful filming of it. I guess you have to use a lot of imagination if you are going to stay in the same setting for 45 minutes, and the camerawork is wonderful. The colours are warm and bright and the lab has that fantastic blue colour that makes TJ's eyes look like stars. We see people from all sorts of angles - over shoulders, through equipment, on bridges and scaffolding. At one point Angela's frustration and impatience are conveyed by a hilarious shot of her elfin foot tapping - now that is funny and clever visual shorthand. So is that 'Be kind, rewind' moment when the squints are shown in a line reacting in unison! The sleeping bag shots are also brilliantly done and so is the initial office discussion where they establish that they're stuck, and that guy in the Father Christmas suit is on every screen in the place - it's interesting because they don't have to look directly at him as they talk, he is everywhere!
The humour is ubiquitous. Sometimes it is in what people do. Zach and Jack as the naughty boys trying to spike the egg nog, Hodgins walking away from the Grinch conversation ('I wasn't the one who told you.') - has anyone noticed just how funny that little walk is? - Jack's smile *sigh* when he says 'it doesn't mean God doesn't love me!' Zach's robot that watches reruns of Firefly when you tell it to take out the garbage, the squints trying, under Angela's and Booth's amused raised eyebrows, to determine a good way to organise a random Secret Santa, or blaming each other for their difficult situation. And sometimes it's all in the sharp dialogue. Some of my favourites?
You're the Grinch on purpose!
That's not a party, it's a Star Wars convention.
Still enjoying your medication I see.
I ruin the true truth with facts?
Nothing brings people together like a Christmas lung fungus.
I am not going to go on about the drool pool aspect of this episode. Everyone knows about the best visuals there and of course, it's my most treasured clip - as are TJ's expressions during and after. But I will comment on him with his masseuse - yes it is not just a lustfest, there does seem to be some real feeling there. And all the visiting scenes have real poignancy (hasn't Eric got long fingers by the way! Do you have to have long hands to get on this show? Does it help with the gloves?)
What don't I like? Well, I find the implication that Brennan more or less lives at the lab and certainly keeps all her treasures from the past there slightly unconvincing. And is that Tori Amos doing that lame version of 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' where you can't actually hear the word 'Christmas'? I just find that a bit annoying.
word count: 1196
"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro