Thursday, October 22, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Bones 11.4, Sleepy Hollow 3.4

Bones airs at 8pm on Fox Thursday nights.

The case this week was totally not interesting to this anti-sports--let alone fake sports--viewer, but they can't all be winners. The gross body chewed on by coy-wolves (that the kid who found it exploded the head of) was once a member of a fantasy football league. The wife of one of the other dudes, the one with the bad attitude problem and short temper, was having an affair with him, but the murderer was the other guy, who only had the league and almost lost it. Blah blah blah, crime blah blah. It could have been a more pointed look at how Booth is getting over his gambling problems again, and how it changes people and ruins lives, but there was barely one sentence on that topic, and so it just sort of came across flat.

But this was the episode with Betty White, so who cares what the case was. She was Dr Meyers, who was better at forensics than Bones, had been married six times and was still saucy, and had, several husbands ago, created the code that Angela built the Angelatron on! She served the roll of squintern this episode, and it was brilliant. She just kept going around being right about things everyone else never thought of, and giving lessons in how to handle life. And she said she's not going anywhere, so it would be amazing if she just casually joined the squint rotation!

The usual squintern for the episode was Welles, who was looking a little beardy and wild even before they encouraged him to get out of the lab and into nature to help with his "mr happy" problem / to help Hodgins gather missing evidence. The whole scene where Hodgins was woozy from Welles accidentally shooting him with a tranquilizer, so he was basically drunk (but no less good at his job), and Welles was in the background shirtless and howling like a wolf, was so great.

I've said before, and I'm sure it'll come up again, that this show's strength is it's characters, not it's cases anymore, and this whole episode was such a fun one for the characters.

Outside of all that, Booth dealing with the death of his inspiration-sake in Bones's new book, and her not understanding why it mattered was classic Bones. Their bickering was like Old Times! And when he said something about Agent Andy being replaced by a younger, sexier agent, while Aubrey preens and tries on the idea was so cheerfully meta-textual and read like the behind the scenes discussions shows always have to have around this time in their runs! Especially since we just got back from Booth being mostly gone for two episodes like characters do when actors want to leave the show, it was even funnier and a little sharper than it would have been otherwise.

So even though the case was not anything I care about, the characters were everything, and it made this episode such a joy to watch!

Sleepy Hollow airs at 9pm on Fox Thursday nights.

This week, Sleepy Hollow does what Doctor Who is really good at--taking something really ordinary from our childhoods and making it creepy as all get out. In this case, it was the Tooth Fairy, which, as we learn, is not the cute and helpful sanitized version so much as it's a The-Ring-inspired faceless demon from Assyria that eats the souls of children because the newly lost tooth allows a breach in their spiritual defenses. And it was so creepy, skulking in corners and closets, appearing out of nowhere, visible only to kids (maybe even only kids with loose teeth?). And where Bones didn't make the connection between the case and the characters very well right before it, Sleepy Hollow sets it up where one of the attacked kids has a sister, mirrors it with Abbie and Jenny and what they've been through, and runs with it.

And they gave us what we were missing last episode--Jenny being useful and vital to the team as part of the A-plot! And, one step better, they only even know about this case because Joe Corbin was also working as part of Team Witness and caught the story of a monster when he (as an EMT) was called to bring the girl into the hospital. 

All four of them do the stakeout, with Joe teasing Ichabod about all his flirty texts with Zoe, and Abbie and Jenny talking about the issue of their dad. Ichabod insists that Zoe is only helping him with his studying for his citizenship (even though he makes a point about not needing to study because he actually lived it). Abbie confessed that she found their dad and Jenny says she found him five years ago and doesn't give a flip, and didn't tell Abbie because she didn't want to upset her. Joe tells Ichabod not to overthink things too much. Abbie is upset that she's been agonizing over telling Jenny and Jenny not only doesn't care, but blames Abbie's childhood stories of how bad a dad he was for why she hates him now.

And then, when they go after the monster (using a weapon made out of dental tools and silver nitrate from Paul Revere, who, refreshingly, couldn't care less about Ichabod's presence in history), the little girl with the afflicted sister helps them out. At their first meeting, Abbie got hurt by the monster, and the hospital scene was so much what we've been wanting--minus, maybe, some loving hand holding. Jenny is worried and barely holding back tears, and Ichabod tells her that Abbie is the strongest person he knows, then tells Abbie that her job is to heal, and calls her "dear friend" and looks at her in that way where maybe he would have been more hands-y if Jenny wasn't there.

With the girl's help, they figure out how to see the monster, then Jenny and Ichabod, who are a very good team considering that Jenny isn't the Witness, go after it and get it, while Pandora is harassing Abbie in the hospital, trying to figure out what she refuses to live without. She knows it's not her mom, and doesn't sound like it's her dad, but she doesn't yet suggest that Abbie can't live without Ichabod, but my sense of story says it could go that way--whether they're ever a thing, they are partners decreed by heaven and foretold by prophesy, giving each other purpose and meaning, so it would make sense. It would be better, however, if she won't live without the family she has built for herself--Ichabod, but also Jenny and Joe and maybe some other side characters that they can adopt along the way (cough - Big Ash - Macey - cough). 

And while Pandora is being all creepy, she says a word that Ichabod traces back to the same language and location as their mysterious "destroyers" plaque. So maybe she's actually older than ancient Greece, and probably more terrible. Another flower opens on her creepy fear-tree. But wouldn't it be neat if she's there to bring fear and to test them, but not as a force of evil so much as as a force of fate--to make sure they're strong enough for what comes after. To make sure they have their priorities straight. Like a really weird forced couples therapy leader, from a very strange other level of reality. That would be so cool.

And, of course, we got Ichabod all drugged up after a tooth cleaning, mumbling and half-singing and mushing his own face and getting all choked up over chibis. AND we got resentful gamer Ichabod mainlining sugar and playing XBox to avoid responsibilities. And maybe just the slightest hint of a jealous Abbie when she noticed how often Zoe texts him? We got Ichabod lecturing an actual class on historical inaccuracy--and Jenny filming it because it was priceless. We got Mills Sister Solidarity. We got Witness Solidarity. We got Betsy Ross being way too modern in her turn of phrase and disappointingly actually a love interest when it would have been better if she was the one that got away because he didn't follow his heart (there's still time for that if he keeps overthinking), but hey, we can't win them all.

All in all, it was a neat episode. Abbie is working through some things in the background still, but Jenny is there being involved and supportive and useful, and Ichabod adores her regardless of whether it's romantic or not. Joe knows to call her when weird things happen, and seems able to keep up now. Ichabod is finding his identity as curator of a historical museum, regardless of whether it exists yet or not. And, best of all, the show seems to have almost found that balance of goofy and scary and strange that made the first season work so well, and was almost totally missing from the second.


Sleepy Hollow

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