Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Discussion of TJ's most popular venture to date!
User avatar
ThyneAlone
TJ Team Validator
Posts: 2699
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:30 am
Location: Northwest UK, near Liverpool

Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by ThyneAlone »

As we canter on towards S5 and all the discussion it will no doubt engender, I wanted to give a nod both to the people who feel that the show is not as good as it was back at the start and to those who think there are ways in which it has improved and are optimistic about its development and redeeming features. Sherry and I both read Brooke34's comments on the TWoP forums and reckoned they were worth a wider audience. Here they are. Would you agree? Or not?
brooke34 wrote:I've just gotten into this show over the last several months via the repeats on TNT and the season 4 repeats on Fox, and while I'm interested enough to keep watching the new season in the fall, that's largely due to the supporting cast. The show has changed so much from season 1, it's jarring. I liked the humor in the beginning. I thought there was a nice balance between the Booth/Bones/Squints interaction, the more dramatic casework, and the gradual revelations about the character's personal lives. Also, the humor was smart and character-driven. Now, seeing what I've seen of season 4, I'm kind of at a loss. I was a huge Buffy/Angel fan and was at first charmed by the contrast between Angel and Booth. Booth was charming, funny, sort of roguish without resorting to the tired "maverick" archetype that is used in so many other procedural shows, and he had an empathy that played well off of Brennan's social awkwardness/rudeness/whatever. Very little of that is in evidence now. The bulk of his empathy now seems to be for Bones exclusively, to underscore their twu wuv, and the humor is frat-boyish or completely stretches the bounds of believability (the beer-helmet in Pain in the Heart, the ridiculous knife-thrower crap in Double Trouble in the Panhandle). Brennan got on my nerves in the beginning. I thought the whole "I don't know what that means" shtick was taken too far a lot of the time and I couldn't figure out why no one ever seemed to really call this woman out on her behavior, ever. Over the second and third seasons I got used to her and she kind of started to grow on me a little bit. However, season 4....I can honestly say that now I do not care if Booth and Brennan ever get together. I get that the relationship between them is a big part of the show, but the constant pimping is maddening. It's come to the point where the entire framework of the series has altered from what it was and the very good supporting cast is reduced to propping up this one pairing, their own plotlines be damned. And when those plotlines are addressed, in the five minutes per episode not allotted to Booth/Brennan, they play out in a way that makes no sense. Like the Hodgins/Angela breakup, or Cam making the decision to care for her ex's daughter. That development in particular, from what I can tell, was resolved in one episode, and barely referenced since. (Don't even get me started on that heartless hussy Angela and the way she stomped all over my precious Jack...) It's just a very, very different show. I get that there is humor to set it apart from the standard, CSI-style procedural, but for God's sake. I sometimes feel like I'm watching Degrassi: Jeffersonian.
word count: 597
"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro

jade.stormcloud
TJ Junkie
Posts: 854
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 9:22 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by jade.stormcloud »

Whew. Alright, where to begin?

The change in tone is one I've seen commented on quite a bit over at the BY. I have noticed the evolution (or possibly de-evolution) of the type of humor on the show. While I would probably choose the earlier atmosphere of the show if given a choice, I still enjoy the heavier-handed humor so far, so I'm not going to really complain about it. In fact, I don't understand so many people's hatred of the circus episode. To me, their undercover antics there are not that much cheesier than their roles of "Tony & Roxy" which everyone seems to love. What does bother me in that regard is that while Brennan seemed to be wonderfully adept at slipping into the Roxy character, she's shown as being more prone to overacting in later episodes. As for the beer-helmet, I actually think I read somewhere that David was opposed to that idea. Either way, I didn't have a problem with it. It certainly not my favorite thing ever, but I found it rather cutely eccentric.

I'd also agree with your comments about the change in focus from the cases to the B&B dynamic. Sweets seems to have taken over much of Booth's earlier specialties of interviewing & analyzing suspects, while the other squints have taken on the majority of the forensics work. This leaves B&B pretty much just running around town together, joking & flirting. In taking B&B out of their "places," it's weakened both characters & put too much of an emphasis on the romantic undertones, which in fact weakens them. I like Sweets, and I don't mind him in his office doing therapy, or maybe even giving them profiling help, but I'd much rather it be Booth questioning people in the interrogation room or picking out the guilty parties in a room full of people. I'd also like to see Brennan communing with the bones more. Seeing her with the victims like that was what helped show how she empathized with people. She really felt for the victims & it was endearing. I believe that getting B&B back to their strengths will both strengthen the characters & the relationship. Since they will have less screen time together, the moments that they are together can be less humdrum filler, & more spark & import, which will help maintain the UST.

I never disliked Brennan in the early seasons. I admired her. I thought she was just brilliant - strong, confident, intelligent. She never took any crap from anyone. While she could be rude sometimes (still can), much of the time it seemed to be unintentional. (In fact, I've more often found Booth to be the rude one, because when he says rude things, he MEANS it to be rude. He seems to find it FUNNY to insult others by mocking their youth, sexual practices, or religious rites.) I actually prefer the earlier Brennan to the later one. What felt like confidence before, now feels more snotty, but overall I think she's become less sure of herself. It almost seems as if she's unable to make decisions lately without turning to Booth for his input. I'm still a B&B shipper, but their relationship has grown out of the fact that they challenge & complement one another. Having Brennan kowtow to all of Booth's beliefs will in no way improve things.

I have to agree that I hated the Hodgins/Angela breakup. It was so out of the blue. I was like "Wait! What? They just broke up? That's it?!" Neither of them fought, neither argued. They both just let it go, & I really don't understand that. I'm going to ignore the "heartless hussy" bit because I still love Angela. I was just as upset with Jack as Angie for their breakup. Why didn't he say anything?! Ugh! Anyway, I still love them both & I actually hope they get back together. "Seriously?! They just broke up?! Just like that?! WTF?!" OK, letting it go now.

The Cam & Michelle thing, I don't really have a problem with. Fitting in time for family members can always be a problem in a television show. After all, it not only has to fit in time-wise, it has to fit into the plot & into the actor's or actress' schedule. In the 4 years, Max's been in 9 episodes, Parker's only been in 6, Russ in 5, Jared in 4, Angela's dad in 3, Rebecca in 2, & Cam's sister in 1. Some family members have only gotten mentions (Booth's father, mother & grandfather; Brennan's aunts & grandparents; Cam's dad & nana), Zack's family has only been seen through a window, & I'm not sure if Angela's mother's even been mentioned. (Poor Hodgins, as the last member of his family is just out of luck.) So, the fact that Michelle only had a couple of mentions over the month & a half between her appearance & the end of the season, didn't really strike me as odd. (BTW, I just noticed that Parker's last name is Booth. I think it's cool that Rebecca gave him Booth's last name despite the fact that they weren't married.)

Anywho. There's my response. :|
word count: 898

brooke34
Fan
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:38 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by brooke34 »

Okay, Jade.stormcloud, I'm trying this again. Sorry it took me so long to reply, but I spent about twenty-five minutes last night composing a thoughtful and considered response to your message, which the board then decided to eat. After that, I was so disgusted I had to go offline in order to keep from throwing my computer across the room. Anyway...

You brought up some interesting points in your post, and there were some things you mentioned that I hadn't thought about. I appreciate your taking the time!

As far as the shift in tone and humor on the show goes, I don't think it would bother me so much if the goofy stuff was just occasional, but they seem to go for the obvious joke all the time now (Booth has a fake mustache! Monkey poop!) whereas before the humor was more character-based and subtle. I think part of the reason I looked so dimly on the beer helmet and rubber duckie thing in Pain in the Heart was that I knew how that episode was going to end up, and how tragic and wrenching it would be. That being the case, the whole bathroom scene was jarring and just rubbed me the wrong way. It's entirely possible that if I had been completely unspoiled, it wouldn't have bothered me at all. I didn't know that DB was initially opposed to it, so that's interesting.

I think there should be a lot more of Brennan in the lab, too. As much as her foot likes to live in her mouth when she's out in the field dealing with people, that's one place where her empathy and commitment did show through, at least in the beginning. The way that she could relate to the dead more than to the living was sort of poignant and made her a more sympathetic character. I don't have a problem with the social awkwardness per se, because who among us hasn't been socially awkward at one time or another? What sticks in my craw is that she so often crosses the line between awkwardness and downright don't-care snottiness. To me, it's not believable that no one would ever, ever call her out on that kind of behavior. In the earlier episodes, I don't know how she made it through the day without getting socked in the face by somebody's grieving relative.

Your comments about Booth's rudeness were very perceptive, too. It used to be that when he had problems with someone he was dealing with in the field based on their lifestyle choices, sexual proclivities, whatever, it was later shown that his issues stemmed from his religious beliefs or something personal he had gone through, and we saw him trying to overcome that. Now, he pops off and says something shallow or insulting, and it's "Oh, that's just Booth."

Brennan has definitely become all Booth, all the time, which I'm sure appeals to a certain fan of the "B/B 4EVA OMG SQUEE!" variety, but I found their relationship more entertaining when the relationship was somewhat contentious. Now I feel like, if their feelings for one another are that deep that she respects his opinion above all others and can't go an entire episode without collapsing into his arms for whatever reason, then, that being the case, it doesn't make sense that they, as two ostensibly grown people, have never actually sat down together, after four years of the same rigmarole, and attempted to hash out the attraction issue. That doesn't ring true.

As far as the Hodgela mess is concerned, I freely admit that my adoration for the character of Jack tends to affect my perspective about the events leading up to their breakup. At this point there's very little he could do that I wouldn't find a way to rationalize. I'm just that forgiving. It's a sickness. I went into more detail about it in the post that I wrote over in the J/A relationship thread, but basically it's just that I feel that if they had "trust issues" as the writers put it, her actions merit more distrust than his do, with the whole GraysonGate thing. I'm still trying to figure out what hideous sin Jack was supposed to have committed.

Sweets...oh, Sweets. I like Sweets. The main issue I have with him is that the writers handled his character's integration into the cast really sloppily. They just sort of dropped him in, with no real purpose other than to moderate the B/B therapy sessions and to be mocked therein. I do wonder why he has such a role in the interviewing process. I could see him being behind the glass, prompting Booth to ask certain questions and whatnot, to gauge a suspect's mental state, but if Booth never needed a psychologist to do interrogations before, why would he need one now?

I also get your point about the fact that everybody's loved ones can't be involved in the plot all the time; obviously there are other stories that need to be told. I just think it's lazy writing when not only is there no personal development for anyone except B/B, but other peoples' outside lives aren't even referred to in passing. And I can't believe that Parker was nowhere around when Booth was being diagnosed/preparing for his surgery. Booth has always been shown to be a devoted father. A scene with his son should have been a foregone conclusion. It just shows how far they've gone with the whole "B/B against the world" thing.

Anyway, that's my response (to your response). :D
word count: 978

JennyLea
Fan
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:33 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by JennyLea »

I too have noticed a major change in the tone of the show. I'm actually not feeling any of the interns from season 4. I still miss Zack and want him to "get out of jail free", reformed and back at the lab. Brennen has a felony conviction and is still allowed to work there.

With the whole Brennen and Booth relationship, I feel it is necessary to officially put them together. It is obvious that they care about each other more than anything else. I realize that the contention between them is one of the things that holds the show together, but at this point dragging it out bears the risk of creating a soap opera atmosphere. I personally don't really care for soap operas. The writers can still make the relationship interesting by incorporating the different back grounds of the characters without losing the integrity of the relationship.

Now for the Jack and Angela stuff. I absolutely LOVE those characters together. I think they should be out back together. I mean what happened to them when they broke up can happen in any relationship. I'm currently engaged to be married and there have been a few times when both of us wondered if it was the right choice for us and that is after four years of dating. I can understand the "cold feet" especially in a relationship that progressed that quickly.

Overall, I hope that the writers can maintain the characters without allowing any of them to fall flat. If there is no progression then people will just lose interest. :D

Jenny
word count: 267

brooke34
Fan
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:38 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by brooke34 »

Hey, Jenny,

First off, welcome! When I read your post I realized I hadn't actually said hello to you when you first joined. Duh... :D

Anyway, I think it's kind of cool there's someone here with a sort of working knowledge of particulates, etc., and some of the kinds of things Hodgins works with on the show. It's like having our own little consultant. :)

It's interesting how many people have taken issue with the show's changing dynamic. I wonder sometimes how aware HH and the writers are of these kinds of opinions and if they even consider taking them into account. I miss Zack too, but my issue is not so much with the actor's exit (although I was disappointed) as it was with the story arc. It would have helped immeasurably to ease the transition if the whole thing had been better dealt with. Of course, I never quite understood why Zack had to transform from a socially awkward, but well-meaning and essentially sweet person, into the Robot Boy he became in seasons 2 and 3. I would like to see him back permanently too, but they would have a LOT of 'splaining to do. At the very least I'd like to see his exit revisited more sensibly. I know the writers' strike had something to do with how it played out, but nothing was stopping the writers from addressing those questions at the beginning of season 4, and they chose not to. Some of the interns are more entertaining than others, but I wonder what the point of the revolving door is. It's hard to really invest in a particular character if they may not even be around the following week, or if their only purpose is to be mocked by the rest of the team.

Part of my whole issue with the B/B merry-go-round is that it's been shoved in viewers' faces so completely that I'm inclined to dislike them just to be contrary. I know that may be irrational, but there it is. The "soap opera" comparison that you make is apt, but my feeling is that the risk of the show turning into that is a foregone conclusion. We're already there, which is kind of the problem. In the beginning of the show, there was an undercurrent of attraction between B/B, which was all cool. In any show where there's two attractive, charismatic leads who face off with each other,there will be that subtext. Only now it's not so much subtext as giant, pink, heart-shaped anvils falling all over the place. It lacks finesse.

I can agree to disagree with you about whether J/A are meant to be or not...in my opinion, even in a real-life relationship, if my significant other's first reaction upon seeing the ex they've theoretically been trying to get divorced from was to leap into their arms, planting a big fat one on them, I would gather my dignity and run fast and far. And that's what I think Jack should do. I liked them together at first, now not so much. :roll: But, diversity of opinion makes the world (and this board) go 'round, right? And so on and so on and shoo bee do bee do bee... :D
word count: 563

User avatar
skftex
TJ Team Validator
Posts: 2304
Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:16 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by skftex »

So much said already but I have to say what I think hasn't worked is the lack of focus on the person who was killed and the idea that no matter who they were in life they have a story and didn't deserve to be murdered. In season one and even in season two, Brennan often made that point, that the person mattered, while there has been a few episodes that were along these lines in the last two seasons, it seems they've moved to making the victim the bad person or a subject to laugh about sometimes (Mr. Ed anyone??). Not saying sometimes some of that didn't get a laugh out of me, but seems like more and more that is the norm rather than just a case here and there to lighten things a bit.

I also think that limiting which characters interact with each other has become a bit same old same old, when in the first seasons we got to see a little bit of the "odd" pairings sometimes. Now...count how many scenes Hodgins is in without Cam or the intern (or often both)...and of course the few with Angela. But very rarely do we get Brennan and just the intern, or Angela and the intern, Booth and Hodgins? Booth and Angela? Booth and just the intern??? That'd be interesting ;). Brennan and Hodgins you'd think we'd see a little bit because of the Gravedigger bond. I don't know I just think so much is lost because they stop exploring all the relationships of the group and focus on the ONE.

Now on to Angela and Hodgins. Me, I want them together, but that is because of things TJ himself has said in the past I think, as well as believing that they do work well together. It just fits to me. That said, I said "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" when Hodgins starts to ask Angela to try again at the end of "The Critic in the Cabernet" because I think in order to move ahead Angela needs to want Hodgins back enough to go through what he did back in Season 2. And maybe even watch Hodgins in a relationship with someone else first as well, to really see what she lost. :)

Okay that is my thoughts. This really is a great topic and you all are so very good at presenting and defending your viewpoints. I love it! :)

Sharon
word count: 411
Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.-Camille Pissarro

JennyLea
Fan
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:33 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by JennyLea »

It is so true that no one seems to care about the victims so much anymore. They only seem to be there for the character relationship to work around. I agree that they do need to come to the forefront again.

Season four was my least favourite of all the seasons, but it won't put me off watching the new season in September... anxiously awaiting the new season. It just felt so detached. With all the interns and none of the main characters working together, other than B&B, there just wasn't the comraderie that there used to be. I'm not going to lie though, the only intern I actually liked was the depressed one. He seemed to get Hodgins going the most. Mr. Nigel-Murray annoyed me with his useless trivia and don't get me started on Daisy.

Speaking of Daisy, I think she is adorable with Sweets. She just was annoying as an intern. I agree that Sweets was brought in rather clumbsily. I mean all of a sudden he was just there. There was no sign of problems in the working relationship with B&B at the time, so I thought it was weird that the FBI would make them take counseling.

I noticed the change in Zack immediately when he came back from Iraq. He was less fun and awkward. He became more self-assured and well different. Throughout season three, I had no idea why the writers, for lack of a better word, were making me not like Zack as much. This is the conclusion I came to after seeing it all play out. I really loved Zack at first, then as season three progressed I was not so into Zack. I think they were setting us up for Zack to do something really bad. Then when it did happen, they made me really love Zack again. It was like he was redeemed. It was like a story were you build to the climax.
word count: 333

JennyLea
Fan
Posts: 45
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:33 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by JennyLea »

Sorry I'm still not done I just couldn't see what I was typing anymore.

For the Brennan and Booth thing. I want them to get together if only so that the story can move forward. I'm not over the top in love with the pairing, but I think that it is time for them to either do their business, or get off the toilet... Actually I thought that at the end of season three when Booth gets shot. That was when I really I saw the desperation in Brennan. I saw more emotion and worry in that one scene than I had in almost all the others combined. That was probably my favourite episode too. It showed many faccets of Brennan.

The whole Angela planting a smootch on Grayson thing to me was just a part of who she is. I have many friends who greet people like that. On an aside you should have seen the look on my fiances face when he was greeted like that the first time he met one of my friends...Priceless. I personnally am still really good friends with most of my exs. I even lived with one of them for two years while I was dating my fiance, so I guess that just depends on personal beliefs. If I was trying to get a divorce from a man who wasn't being cooperative, I may have tried to use the sugar technique as a form of manipulation, although I know it wouldn't work... I noticed a subtle change in Angela after both Roxie and Hodgins told her that what she gave was not enough. I'm hoping that they can develope that and allow Angela and Hodgins a more stable relationship, hopefully developing a little slower this time.

I do give kuddos on the very imaginative way that the victims die. The story there changes and it hasn't gotten monotonous yet. Again I go back to the fact that they have this really great creativity and they give it a back seat to the now pretty boring B&B relationship.

I loved Booth with his beer hat. I thought that was hilarious and fitting to what I imagined him being like. It was quarky and fun.

My I have chatter a lot...

Jenny
word count: 386

brooke34
Fan
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:38 pm

Re: Show Evolution - what's worked, what hasn't?

Post by brooke34 »

Jenny, I love your "do your business or get off the toilet" analogy where B/B are concerned. I tend to yell the exact same thing at the TV when they're doing their usual emotionally stunted routine, but the words I use are decidedly more profane. :lol: Props for your self-restraint.

I also like the original ways that the victims die. It's kind of a nod to the early, darker humor of the show. To my knowledge I don't think there's ever been anyone brought in to the Jeffersonian that died of, say, a gunshot wound during a home invasion. I do give the writers credit for always coming up with something unusual, even if the victim is increasingly just a prop for various scenarios in which B/B deny their undeniable LURVE.

I like Fisher too. He reminds me of Eeyore. The idea of him tangling with a dominatrix in The Princess and the Pear cracked me up. I like Vincent Nigel-Murray too (even though in my head I call him Nigel Vincent-Murray, because as some of the Brits on this board have said, those names don't go together like that!). He just seems so eager to be liked, and can only succeed in annoying everybody. I felt really sorry for the Muslim intern (Arastoo?) and couldn't figure out why everybody on the team was so horrible to him, particularly since the main reason for their dislike seemed to be his religion. I was very taken aback by that, and it was a very OOC way for them to be acting. It didn't make sense. I can see where Daisy can be annoying, but I have a soft spot for the actress dating back to "Undeclared" and she and Sweets are cute together.

If only we could have Zack back full-time though. It always rang false to me that they never addressed what happened to him in Iraq. Obviously, something traumatic occurred for him to be sent home, but nobody on the team really even seemed interested in what might have happened, at least not to the point where that part of his story was ever told. I'm not an expert on such things by any means, but surely PTSD would be a factor in his personality change and sudden lack of affect (even more so than before) upon returning home. If someone's entire worldview is built upon science and logic and everything having an explanation, and that person is suddenly dropped into a situation where horrible, inexplicable violence is occurring day after day, and there's no one there that they feel a connection to or that truly understands their personality to help them make sense of it, in my opinion, it would be nearly impossible to go about the business of life, both during those events and in the aftermath. At the very least, Booth, with his past in the military and his issues with having been a sniper, should have been the one to notice something off, even if no one else did. Instead we got one episode where he returned and was shown to have trouble sleeping, then he became Robot Boy, and finally apprentice to a serial killer, and nobody noticed anything?! Really? That final scene, with Zack in the hospital (which I am actually half-watching now, as it's rerunning on TNT as we speak) was wonderfully played by EM and finally, finally showed the depth of the cracks in his psyche, but the damage was done, and no one had noticed. So sad.

Linking is beyond me, as I'm essentially a Luddite where this computer stuff is concerned, but on fanfiction.net there are several stories by a writer named Madi Holmes, who has written several Bones fics. These go into the Zack situation much more deeply than was done on the show, and there's also a multi-chapter story wherein Jack's therapy session with Sweets in Finger in the Nest is expanded, and we get to explore a LOT of Jack's issues. They're very well-written, I recommend looking them up.

Also, I keep forgetting to tell y'all. You're welcome to call me Hillarie, that's my actual name, Brooke is just the middle one.
word count: 724