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'Bones': Why stakeouts don't turn into make-outs

April 30, 2007 |  6:43 pm

BonesFemale forensic scientists, the geek goddesses of crime procedurals, nail the bad guys, but rarely get their man: the square-jawed partner. Though it’s hardly an original conceit, the unconsummated romance between forensic anthropologist Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and FBI special agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) on “Bones” has worked its way under viewers’ skin.
Week after week, “Bones” serves up icky cadavers for Brennan and her crew of oddly endearing “squints” (so named by Booth, because they are always looking through microscopes). They examine corpses to determine the cause of death and the identity of victims but the more compelling mystery of the show is why brainy Brennan and brawny Booth haven’t turned their stakeouts into make-outs. Their crackling, screwball comedy-inflected chemistry promises a fully fleshed-out partnership, despite their oft-examined psychological scars.

Brennan, who was abandoned to foster care by her bank robber father (Ryan O’Neal, sangfroid and suave, in semi-recurring role), is a socially awkward empiricist, Mr. Spock in a lab smock. Science is her shield and her sword. Brutally honest and physically aggressive, she once broke the wrist of a convict because “he put his creepy serial killer hands on me.” Needless to say, her nickname, “Bones” refers to the plural noun, not the active verb.
Devoutly Catholic Booth is haunted by his past as a former military sniper. He has a son by a woman who refused to marry him and a romantic history with Brennan’s female superior. Though earlier this season, he saw a therapist (wryly played by Stephen Fry) for shooting a musical ice cream truck, Booth is the nurturer, a he-man with a woman’s intuition. Their role-reversed temperaments only make them more attractive opposites; everyone but Booth and Brennan knows they belong with one another. Clever writing and the occasional short-lived love interest consistently keep them apart
This week’s episode, “The Spaceman in the Crater,” brought them no closer, but threw them into an orbit where they might observe a future together. In a departure from Bones’ mix of high-tech detective work and snarky Scooby Do camaraderie, the story of an astronaut’s accidental death at the hands of his protégé’s wife, was elegiac. There was no sociopath or sinister conspiracy to blame, the perpetrators and victims alike were married folk consumed by passion for their work and devotion to their partners. In other circumstances, they might have been as heroic as Brennan and Booth.
“I guess for me right now, marriage is having someone who’ll slap your enemies and toss their dead bodies out of airplanes,” Brennan bluntly blurted after closing the case. Don’t believe it: That’s the least she could do for Booth, her husband in everything but name.

(Photo courtesy Fox)