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.