About that Crossover…

I’ve not commented on the Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover before now, mostly because the reactions baffled me so much that I couldn’t figure out where to even begin.  But after another recent round of discussions about it, I figure it’s worth a shot.

First, I know there are people who hate the idea simply because they don’t like crossovers at all, or, because they actively dislike Sleepy Hollow. (Or, in the case of disgruntled Sleepy Hollow fans, because they actively dislike Bones.) Both points are fair. Not everyone is going to like these episodes. But there’s never been an episode of Bones yet that everyone loved, and I’m certain the same is true for Sleepy Hollow. So yeah, some people won’t like it. It’s the nature of storytelling.

But the genre mismatch thing? That the crossover is somehow an insult to the shows due to their genres or whatever? That’s weird to me.

Yes, I know TV Line originally described it as a crossover between two shows sharing ‘wildly different DNA.’ But I think that’s only true if you’re taking a very superficial view of Bones. (Which granted, way too many do, but that’s a separate whine post.)

Before I go further, I’ll note that what I’m saying here reflects my view of Bones, and while I’m going to try to be respectful of those who clearly see something very different in the show, my understanding of the show is what’s driving my view of the crossover.

And that’s this: Bones is a science show, yes. Science plays a role in every episode, from Brennan’s analysis of skeletal remains, to Hodgins’ experiments, which cover everything from the behavior of insects to physics.

But: brain vs. heart.

It’s not just about science.  Booth’s view of reality matters just as much as that of show’s scientists. He’s always been open to what can’t be seen, measured, or put in a test tube, and the show has honored that world view in a variety of ways.

Think about these episodes:

The Skull in the Desert (1×17) – Angela has a vision of Dhani walking in the desert that leads them to the dehydrated woman in time to save her.

The Hero in the Hold (4×14) – Booth’s assisted by Teddy Parker’s ghost in escaping to the deck of the ship; later, Brennan and the ghost exchange greetings.

Harbingers in the Fountain (5×1) – Avalon tells Booth that Brennan’s in trouble in time for him to rescue her from the doctor in the clinic.

The Ghost in the Machine (8×9) – The entire episode is told from the viewpoint of the ghost/victim; at the end we see him ‘move on.’

The Shot in the Dark (8×15) – Brennan has visions of her mother, afterward she mysteriously knows something that her father has never told anyone before, about having stolen the first gift he ever gave Christine.

The Psychic in the Soup (10×11) – Avalon’s vision of a ‘drive thumb’ leads to them finding Sweets’ manuscript just in time. She also understands that Christine’s imaginary friend is actually Sweets.

Here’s the deal: with some of these, the show leaves it up the viewer to decide what it means, and whether or not there’s a completely rational explanation for it. With The Hero in the Hold, for example…some fans view it as all as having been in Booth’s head, part of the hallucinations he was having due to his later-revealed brain tumor (as Brennan herself explained it.) I think that’s a valid interpretation, one the show allows for. (Though her exchange with Teddy has always seemed sort of weird to me to be a  hallucination on Booth’s part, since he’s over talking to Claire.)

Ditto Harbingers in the Fountain…who’s to say that Avalon was not just guessing Brennan was in danger, or made that up so Booth would leave her be?

Why not? Weird things happen every day in real life, and scientists explain them as something we just don’t have an answer for yet, while the, er, less-tied-to-reason among us look to faith or imagination for those answers.

So, yeah. With some of the episodes, the show allows for non-woo-woo interpretations, and that’s fine.

With others, though, they make no attempt to explain what happens. We see Brennan rationalize Angela’s locating Dahni, but that’s the extent of it, and with The Ghost in the Machine…well, some fans finely opted to see it simply as the ‘one-off’ episode it was, clearly outside the normal scope and therefore, not a problem.

With The Shot in the Dark, I’ve seen it argued that Max or Christine had, at some point, told Brennan about the gift he stole, or that she knows her father well enough to have guessed it. (Though none of those especially make sense to me.)

My point with all of this is two-fold: first, the show has a history of occasionally dipping into the ‘not-easily-explained-by-reason’ well; and second, that most of the time, they do so with a light enough hand that viewers can interpret it in a way where it fits their view of the world of the show, whatever that is.

And that’s exactly what I expect from the crossover episodes. Brennan will remain Brennan, and if/when she’s confronted with something that she can’t quite wrap her reason around, she’ll absorb it (as she appears to have done with the events of The Shot in the Dark); Booth may well be more open to the possibility that there’s something else going on, but regardless, the murder will be solved by forensic science.

Further, in terms of the structure of the episodes, I think the first hour – the Bones hour – will feel very much like a typical Bones episode, only with guest stars from Sleepy Hollow and a case that’s perhaps got something a bit ‘other’ to it; and the second hour will reverse that, with an episode that feels like a typical Sleepy Hollow episode, but with guest stars from Bones. In all cases, the characters will remain true to themselves. I’ve also seen nothing to suggest that fans of either show have to watch the other show to follow what’s going on on theirs (particularly for Bones fans, since it’s first.)

As to the shows’ ‘wildly different DNA,’ some Sleepy Hollow fans see in Abbie and Ichabod hints of Scully and Mulder of The X-Files, something which interests me greatly given that many Bones fans feel the same way about Booth and Brennan. It’s not an either/or, and both shows can wear that mantle proudly. But maybe the two shows, both about a couple solving mysteries, with one partner being devoted to reason while the other is more open to what can’t be measured, have more in common than what you’d expect based on a show summary.


10 thoughts on “About that Crossover…

  1. Crossing over with Sleepy Hollow goes a little farther than psychics. Here is the description from imdb – Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers.Bringing the dead to life and time travel has no place in the science world of BONES.

    • And I very firmly believe that no one in the Bones world will ever know that about Ichabod. From there perspective, he’ll be a historian who consults on cases with something involved that benefits from his expertise. Hmm kind of like Brennan does with the Booth’s cases.

    • I think you’re drawing a line that you’re comfortable with (psychics are okay in a science show) in respect to how you interpret Bones, and that’s fine. I don’t remotely mean that to sound condescending, either. We ALL interpret the show according to our own world views and rules.

      For me, though, the line isn’t ‘psychics are okay, time travel isn’t’ but rather, ‘natural vs. supernatural.’ Bones is not a purely science (or natural) world. They’ve had plenty of eps that allowed for supernatural elements; when this is over, it will just be another one where something may have happened that science and reason couldn’t immediately explain, and that will be that.

      With the Ghost in the Machine, we (the audience) knew something that the characters didn’t – that the victim was actually there, watching everything. And then we saw him, at the end. The team talked to him on the chance that Avalon was right and he was there, not because they saw any evidence of it, and I think it’s possible that’s how this will go. People watching will know there’s more to Ichabod than just being a historian; the team won’t.

      I will admit to drawing my line not only earlier than you do (natural vs. supernatural) but also …Avalon is the least supernatural of the examples I gave here for me. I think ghosts are further along on that continuum, but still, in a show where we saw The Shot in the Dark and Ghost in the Machine, I don’t think this is going to be a big deal.

      But we’ll see. As I noted, some people just aren’t going to like it, and that’s fine, too. It’s true of every episode.

  2. I know Bones is supposed to be a “science show” and Brennan is portrayed as a purely rational individual. However, in my experience there are some things that just cannot be explained away by science as we know it. I refer to it in my own mind as God and sometimes as the unknown. (This is probably why I can relate to Booth more than Brennan.) I don’t mind a bit of the unknown in my science shows.

    That being said, I’ve never seen Sleepy Hollow because the premise sounds really bizarre, but I’m willing to experiment with the crossover. It’s not like it’s going to happen every week, and I’m guessing it won’t be the end of the world as we know it.

    • Agreed. It’s a one-off, and will either work or it won’t, but either way, that’s all it is. It’s like I said on the board a while back, though: if the idea is to get SH fans to give Bones a try (and vice versa), there’s no point at all to the eps not being representative of the shows that they are.

      What good would it do for the Bones hour to be fundamentally different from what the show usually is, just to somehow fit in better with SH? It wouldn’t. It would just mean that SH who decided to give it a go would be confused the next week and saying, ‘wait, this isn’t what I saw last week at all.’

      I watched some of SH S1 and plan to give it another try. (I didn’t stop watching because I didn’t like it; I stopped watching because there were too many other things catching my attention.)

    • *lurking Sleepy Hollow fan checking in*

      Yes the premise sounds bizarre, but the show is fantastic. I’ve found (with many shows) that once you suspend your disbelief on the premise – in this case witchcraft – and just go along for the ride it creates it’s own type of logic.

      Between phenomenal writing, great acting, surprisingly believable effects (to me at least), and an impressive showing of diversity for a show who’s main character is a straight white guy from the 1700’s, I cannot recommend Sleepy Hollow highly enough.

  3. The people who run the shows are in the business to make money, and attracting new viewers will help both shows. It seems the network promotes other shows more than Bones (I’m probably biased), and they do promote SH from time to time so maybe folks will find out they like one or the other. I see it as an economic decision mostly.

  4. I for one am wildly excited. And I want to shake hands with whatever social media manager came up with the hashtag #hollowbones and ask them to please give me a job.

    Admittedly I’m more of a Sleepy Hollow fan and haven’t watched Bones in a few years, but I’ve set my DVR to series record Bones now and I think with reading reviews and such I should be relatively caught up once we get to crossover time.

    Naratively though? I’m so curious to see how they handle mixing these two shows. Who is going to who for help and how on earth are they going to resolve whatever it is in a way that satisfies both side. I have no freakin clue how this is going to work, but I’m PUMPED to find out.

    Sidenote: since you mentioned the X Files (sort of) will you be watching the revival? I’ve spent the last few months catching up and found myself noticing the multitude of similarities to Bones. Hadn’t thought of comparing it to Sleepy Hollow until you mentioned it, but I can see that now too.

    • I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your comments – busy, crazy weeks. But I wanted to say – I watched Sleepy Hollow last week, and very much enjoyed it. Looking forward to more of it (and not just the crossover.)

      It’s interesting, though, that I feel like I am seeing more similarities between the shows (in style and tone, at least) and that makes me even more curious to watch it – not because it’s like Bones, per se (or Bones is like it), but it raises questions for me about genre, and surface vs. depth of story. Interesting stuff to think about, anyway. 🙂

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