I must start by saying this is my favorite show currently on TV. It’s funny, suspenseful, well-written, and demands some level of viewer commitment to follow, to say nothing of the eye candy.
What I love about the pilot is it doesn’t feel like a pilot. Special Agent Sealy Booth (David Boreanaz) and Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (Emily Deschanel) have worked together before. They don’t like each other much, but there is respect, and none of that weirdly forced sexual tension usually found on shows where a man and a woman are partners. (Suggestions of romance come later for these two.)
We meet secondary character Angela first. She flashes her boobs to a clerk for information at Dulles airport. Brennan is flying in from Guatemala, where she was identifying remains in a mass grave, and she gets detained by Homeland Security for having a skull in her bag. It turns out Booth is behind this embarrassing little episode. He needed to snatch her up to help with a potentially high-profile murder case.
And, we’re into the week’s (largely forgettable) mystery. Do we care who murdered a congressional intern? Not really. Do we care how this seasoned FBI agent and genius scientist are going to work together? Hell yeah; the show is now in its fifth season.
Always with this show, the B Plot is far more interesting than the A Plot. The A Plot serves as a backdrop on which to paint character traits. In this mystery, for example, we learn that Booth is tactful, even reverent, when dealing with a victim’s family. Bones would rather lay out all the facts, feelings be damned. But nothing about these character development tactics is unique to the pilot. With every episode, the characters grow. In my opinion, Booth and Bones’ relationship doesn’t even begin to hit its stride until episode 15, when Booth saves Bones’ life for the first time.
We get briefly introduced to the other “squints,” Jack and Zach, and their boss, Dr. Goodman, who only lasted one season. We have plenty of time to learn about all of them.
The pilot gives us one quintessential moment to hang onto throughout the series; indeed I believe it was used in commercials for the show throughout Season 1. Booth: “C’mon, we’re Scully and Mulder.” Bones: “I don’t know what that means.” She doesn’t. Her ignorance of pop culture is used as a joke again and again. Oh, right, the pilot also includes Bones’ ex-boyfriend showing up to reclaim his TV. We see that Bones isn’t likely to miss him or it.