After being off the air for the last few weeks due to the World Series, Fox's "Bones" returns tonight with an entire month of new episodes. With guest stars and diving deeper into the regular characters, these episodes are sure to entice the faithful watchers of this successful series. "Bones" creator Hart Hanson gave our Jim Halterman a preview of what we can expect with the coming episodes and a few hints at what is to come later in the season.
While the case in tonight's "The Skull in the Sculpture" involves an artfully crafted murder, some interesting developments with the character of Angela (Michaela Conlin) prove that these new episodes are going to give viewers a bit more information about our favorite cast members. In the course of the episode, Angela reveals to Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) that she had a relationship with another woman, Roxie, who also is involved with the case at hand. Hanson revealed that by breaking up Angela's previous relationship with Hodgins (TJ Thyne), he and the writers saw many story possibilities for the character. "We have found out that [Michaela] is funnier than we thought... [and now] she gets to be a little bit more of the free spirit Bohemian that we were after in the first place and she's just even better at it." He added that while putting the finishing touches on the last few episodes, "we've just been saying �Wow, look at Michaela. Look at Michaela go.' I think she's really come into her own in the fourth season."
However, Hanson also explained that their intentions were not merely to shock viewers with the character of Angela suddenly kissing another woman. "You want to jolt a series every once in awhile and remind people that anything can happen. We wanted to go back. A series of events happened where she broke up with Hodgins. We met her ex-husband. She's the offspring of a rock star. We just wanted to give a little jolt to the Angela character to... just reset that anything can go anywhere."
In next week's episode, entitled "The Con Man in the Meth Lab," the appearance of Jared Booth played by "Roswell" alumni Brendan Fehr, is bound to shed some light on Boreanaz's somewhat mysterious character. Hanson explained that bringing Booth's brother on the show was supposed to be introduced prior to this season but the WGA strike curtailed that plan. "We were looking forward to bringing Booth's family more into �Bones' in Season 3 toward the end of the season but that was one of the decisions made when we came back for such a short period of time is to let that play out better in Season 4."
The hiring of Fehr also will serve as an opportunity to bring a little romance into the life of Brennan. "There's a spark between Brennan and little brother Booth, as is the way things go on �Bones,' Hanson explained. "Since she, in her own mind, can't have the older Booth, maybe this younger one is a good copy. It turns out not to be true but it gives us some fun with them but, mostly, to shed some light on Booth, who [is] a guarded character."
When casting Jared, Hanson revealed, "We needed somebody that we thought the character of Booth would care about deeply, but had a dark side and bore at least some physical resemblance to him." Fehr is best known for playing a teen on the WB series "Roswell" but Hanson explained, "He has grown up nicely. He has some wisdom on his face, some experience on his face and he's a very good actor. It didn't hurt a bit that he and David [Boreanaz] had conflict on the ice. They both play hockey in the leagues and they've had some conflicts on the ice that comes into their relationship on the show."
The November 19th episode, "The Passenger in the Oven," takes place on an airplane and, as Hanson said, "Brennan and Booth [having to] solve a crime on a flight before it landed has been pitched every year. It was something we wanted to do. I think that it was our co-executive producer Carla Kettner who had the idea of cooking the body in a giant microwave so that it would be within Brennan's field of expertise...we just had failed five or six times to make that story work and she came up with that and the story fell into place. So, I have to give her credit for that."
And, just in time for Thanksgiving, the November 26th episode, "The Bone That Blew," turns murder into a question of family values. Brennan's father, Max (Ryan O'Neal), who was recently acquitted on murder charges, takes a teaching position at the Jeffersonian and ends up helping with the murder case. Viewers can expect Brennan to be more than a bit bothered by her father's sudden appearance in both her personal and professional life.
Yet another prominent development this season has been the way the show has dealt with the absence of the ever-popular character of Zack, who has been in jail for aiding a serial killer last season. A revolving group of lab interns (and guest stars) have been utilized and the device has been a somewhat surprisingly positive experience, said Hanson. "It has been really fun for us, notwithstanding everybody's deep affection for Eric Millegan and [the character of] Zack. What it has done for us is we've been able to invent a series of characters that make more stuff happen at the lab. It kind of gives �B' stories to the �B' story [and] get some humor out of the lab." The continually revolving door of characters was not initially the plan for replacing Zack, however. Hanson thought, "Oh, we'll look at four to six people and then pick someone who is great and have them come in. We have a couple of more ideas now that we'd like to pursue with these grad students. It's no longer a case, at least in my mind, of finding someone to replace Zack but, as you say, figuring out how long we can do this and how long it serves the show."
One guest star that came in to play and older lab intern in one recent episode was Michael Badalucco, best known for his role on "The Practice." Hanson revealed that the fans are not alone in wanting to see the actor return to his role of Clark. "He is on the list of people we would like to have back. He's really fun. Every once in a while, the feeling you get from the network, although they're pretty good at not jamming it down your throat, is that they want youth. Then every once in a while you get someone like Michael or Stephen Fry that just turns everyone on their heads."
Scheduling is a unique issue that the series has had to contend with every January when juggernaut "American Idol" returns to Fox with multiple nights of broadcasts. When asked where he thought "Bones" would land on the schedule in January, Hanson admitted to having no real clue. "I'm pretty confident we won't be on Friday, but I don't know what they're doing to do with �Idol.' I don't know what they're going to do with [Joss Whedon's] �Dollhouse.' Your guess is as good as mine."
Regardless of where "Bones" ends up in January, for this current crop of new episodes, it will air at its usual Wednesday, 8:00/7:00c spot on Fox.