Post-TCA musings on Bones

Your view of what, exactly, was said at the Television Critics Association meeting this week about Bones probably varies according to which report you read – seriously, if you want to see how many different ways there are to spin something, read the posts about the show on different entertainment websites.

I had a mini-rant prepared on that, but why waste the time? So I’ll just say this:

If Bones ends this season, it’s not because Fox was disappointed by the ratings in the fall. They knew exactly what the show would do when they moved it back from Friday to Thursday. The fact that it regularly beat one of the other broadcast networks on the most competitive night of the week (NBC’s Heroes Reborn) was an unexpected bonus.

And the lack of a return date? I truly don’t get why people are in such a lather over this, let alone why anyone who’s paid any attention lately to television schedules, especially Fox’s, would think it means something dire.  Several years ago, Fox began experimenting with a year-round schedule, where instead of having a stable of shows all running for 22 episodes between September and May, they have four distinct ‘mini-seasons’ with shows airing for anything from six to twenty-two episodes.

The result is a schedule where few are the weeks when something isn’t finishing so something else can start. Where Bones is concerned, if they’re going to leave it on Thursdays, it won’t return until April 14th (American Idol is slated to run through April 7th, I believe), but it wouldn’t surprise me if the reason they’ve not announced that yet is because they’re reserving the option of bringing it back earlier, on a different night, should one of their new shows fall over completely in terms of ratings.

And yes, I hate that for the show. Even while acknowledging that its greatest value to Fox seems to be the fact that they can put it anywhere – even Friday – and its audience will find it, I do wonder what its ratings would be if it had ever been left in the same slot for more than two seasons at a time. (Put another way…would NCIS have the ratings it does if CBS had moved it from Tuesday to Thursday to Wednesday to Monday to Friday and back to Tuesday, with another move or two thrown in there for good measure? It’s a mind-boggling question, isn’t it?)

But regardless of whether it’s the best thing or not for the show for it to be so flexible, it’s an asset for Fox, and when they’ve made it clear in the past that it’s one they’re willing to exploit, it seems ridiculous to me to see anything ominous in the lack of announced return date – particularly when they said explicitly on Friday that the show will return in the spring for the rest of the season.

Whatever else was said on Friday, though, it also seems pretty clear is that the show will end either this season or next.

Obviously, I’m hoping it will go another season. I love these characters, and will continue to watch them love, grow, overcome challenges and solve murders as long as possible.  They’re people to me, old friends, and my life will be poorer when I can no longer check in with them on a regular basis to see what’s going on.  (I have similar feelings about the characters in the JD Robb In Death novels; fortunately, Nora Roberts hasn’t even hinted yet that she might be getting tired of telling me what Eve and Roarke are up to.)

But one of the things I never lose sight of is how much more Bones has already given me than it would have occurred to me to ask for. I have vivid memories of season six, when I believed that we’d see Booth and Brennan as a couple for at least a few episodes, but no more than that. A whole season of seeing them together seemed far-fetched to me, and I didn’t have a framework for five or six years of them as a couple, or seeing the wedding and, later, watching them solve crimes while raising two kids.

In fact, prior to The Doom in the Boom, I often stumbled when asked, ‘what would you yet like to see happen on the show?’ because I felt like they’d given me so much more than anything I might have come up with to ask for. And in that sense, I’ve been prepared for several seasons now for the show to end.  I was still enjoying it – season ten is actually one of my favorites – but I could also see that they would eventually reach a point where they were running out of stories to tell.

And then the mid-season finale happened, and now, yes, I very much hope a season twelve works out, because while I trust them to wrap up what they started there, if eleven is it, I can easily see another year’s worth of stories coming out of that episode.  I’ve always loved Hodgins, and am looking forward to seeing how he copes with the paralysis, and what it means for all of them.

But I also understand that nothing lasts forever (or even as long as I might have wanted it to) and that eleven – or twelve – seasons is a damned long time for a television show.

And that’s why I can hope that the show goes as long as they want it to, as long as they feel like they’ve got stories to tell, but can’t bring myself to want more than that. It occurred to me recently that the longest I’ve been in one job is ten years.  I tend to be a creature of habit, I don’t skip from job to job, and still…ten years.  So I can appreciate that no matter how much I’m enjoying the show and want to see it go longer, the actors might be hitting a point where they’re ready to do something else. (In that sense, it’s perhaps telling that however much they obviously still love it, none of the original writers are still writing for the show on a regular basis.)

I think we forget that sometimes, that what’s entertainment for us is their life, and that you can love something and be proud of your work while knowing it’s time to move on. When that time comes – which will almost certainly before I’m ready for it to – I want it to end on their terms and in a way that makes them proud.

They’ve given me too much joy to wish for anything else.

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Post-TCA musings on Bones

  1. I know we can’t expect five more years of Bones…I personally expect this season to be the last, because I know it’s difficult to do the same sort of creative endeavor for a long time and not get burned out. All of the actors most likely have other things they want to do, and the grind of producing this show must be enormous. I’m working on being okay with that, because it’s really selfish of me to want them to stay on the show if they’re ready to move on to something else.

    I guess my problem with the situation, and it’s a minor one at that, is that if this really is the last year, the show deserves a nice send off instead of letting it fade away unnoticed. I know that in reality, TV doesn’t work like that, but I’m sentimental, and I want my favorite characters to be appreciated for all the great entertainment they’ve provided over the years.

    • Well, from the way they made it sound, Fox plans the best send-off they can give it, whether it’s this season or next, and I think they’ll probably follow through on that – bearing in mind that what we mean by ‘good send-off’ may not be what they mean. But the show’s a legacy show for them (the way the X-Files or Simpsons are) and I think they’ll honor that when it does finish.

  2. I want another season. An even dozen seasons appeals to my sense of order. ;D

    I never expected this much either. For a while I did think that maybe the end of the series finale would be a re-enactment of the end of the coma dream from the season 4 finale, with Brennan telling Booth she was pregnant. That means when the season 6 finale happened my jaw hit the ground, I was totally shocked (luckily I didn’t get spoiled by the hateful on social media) I mean we already knew we were getting another season so that ending was out the window.

    Truth is I really do want them to keep making Bones as long as they continue to enjoy doing it, but I don’t want them to continue on if they’re unhappy (this is why I love seeing tweets and such from people who guest star on the show about enjoying working on the show with both cast and crew).

    Also yes please on them being able to craft the ending they want to do, and not having it rushed and possibly falling short from what they wanted to do. And this means there’s not much time to reach a decision about the show ending with season 11 or getting a season 12.

    • We will. Fox is currently paying for the show to film (writers, actors, crew); there’s no scenario I can imagine that would make sense of them throwing that money away and not airing the eps. Plus? They need the show. They don’t have a lot to work with in terms of successful shows, so to scrap their go-to series out of spite makes even less sense.

      Plus, you don’t get the sense from these two articles that spite is even an issue: http://www.tvinsider.com/article/66664/bones-bosses-on-the-shows-future-big-two-part-finale/ and http://www.ew.com/article/2016/01/15/bones-season-12-fox

      I think the very latest the show will come back is April 14th (the Thursday after Idol ends.) They’ve not gone into many details about their plans for the spring (mostly because they’re still focused on promoting their winter season) so I don’t know what they’ll pair it with. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat of last year, with some double ep nights, or to finish in June; they might also air the show on two nights, depending on what else they’ve got going. But not only have I not heard anything which suggests they’re thinking about punishing the show or the fans by spitefully not airing eps they’ve paid for; there’s no logic to doing so when they’re struggling for shows that pull in viewers.

      And, as I noted here, they might bring the show back earlier if something else falls apart.

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