Bones Theory

Premiere Week: Yanks in the UK- Fish Out of Water Approach


Hello and Happy Monday!

I’ll be doing a Top Five Tuesday with Harbingers tomorrow, but for the rest of the Premiere Week posts, it seems like the best approach to just kind of put a question out there and then discuss.

When I think about the season four premiere, there are several things that come to mind (drunk!Booth for one), but I know one thing that really annoyed a lot of people about this double-ep was how ‘out of his element’ Booth was–especially for someone who has been in several different countries around the world in the Army.

I saw (at the time) arguments that just because someone was stationed in the desert for years didn’t make them world savvy, and then other people who argued that it didn’t matter if Booth had NEVER been out of the U.S. before, he still wouldn’t have acted like he did, if he went to the U.K.

And that issue (I’m sort of in the middle about it. It was kind of funny, but also kind of dumb) is something that I think happens throughout the series in smaller doses, and what is interesting to me is that it seems like either Booth or Brennan are the ‘fish’ in any given scenario. And I made me wonder: why is this? Why do the writers seem threatened by the idea of allowing B&B to both be secure and qualified in situations? It’s like one of them has to freak out (think Brennan with snakes, whenever Booth is around, or during her high school reunion, and think Booth with his family or when he’s in another country or interacting with Walter Sherman) so the other can come through for them.

That is nice in theory…and certainly there have been several special moments for the both of them being there for the other. But at some point (and I suppose each of us has had a ‘some point’), it gets kind of old. At some point, B&B both need to be as competent as we know they are. They need to both be skilled and aware of themselves and their surroundings.

Can you think of times when they have both been ‘good to go’ so to speak? I am imagining the way they approach Sweets sometimes–when it’s him against them, and they present that united front. I’m guessing that’s one reason why we don’t see B&B and Sweets sessions any longer–mainly because they don’t fit the plot, but also, I think B&B as characters are so strong that it would be clear in the session that they don’t need assistance. Splitting them up in various ways (even just in two different rooms) allows some ‘non-issues’ to be ‘addressed’.

I’m getting away from the main point, I suppose.  Basically, I feel like there is a natural ‘give and take’ balance between them, but when that is taken too far, then it’s an abuse of the individual characterizations…and it creates the ‘fish out of water’ issue, whether they are in another country or just in the lab.

Thoughts from you?

Peace, Love & Bones,




17 thoughts on “Premiere Week: Yanks in the UK- Fish Out of Water Approach

  1. For me, the episode that immediately came to mind as both of them “being good” was Hero in the Hold. Brennan was on her game pulling all the right strings to save Booth and Booth was on his game, with a little help from BrainTumorTeddy, getting himself in a position to be saved. I suppose there was enough drama going on that the writers didn’t need to manufacture it by making one or both of them the fish-out-of-water.

    I think that’s all it boils down to manufacturing drama for the sake of an episode. Brennan paralyzing the wimpy Canadian doctor, Booth insisting he can drive the mini-car on the wrong side of the road, etc.

  2. Very interesting question. I don’t know that I would take it as far as its a Booth/Brennan give and take sort of thing here. (Although I agree with you that does happen in other instances). To me, they just were purely making it “comic relief with Booth” time. Just exploiting them being in England for some English/American jokes. While I did enjoy the Yanks episodes mostly, I did think they were being OOC as far as the depth they took the “Dumb Booth” jokes. I would have liked it if they kept it to just “Oh Booth can’t fit in this tiny car, haha” and left it at that. But having Booth get out of the car and freak out and all the other stuff, was too far. Booth is not that stupid. And frankly, kind of insulting to Americans. We aren’t THAT bad…most of us 🙂 So yeah, my take is that they just used Booth for some easy jokes, but I think they went too far, making Booth seem completely ignorant, when we know he is not.

    Now there are other times in the series where either Booth or Brennan is out of their element or expertise and the other gets to learn something new…such as Booth playing hockey vs. Brennan at the decomposition yard, but those are more natural, and just help us see them shine in their own specific ways from each other. I think those are nice. And Booth and Brennan did get some lovely moments in Yanks as well, and I liked how they mirrored the English pair…but they way they wrote Booth…it wasn’t my favorite. Or favourite 🙂

  3. I’m not really bothered by most “fish” moments; I just accept them as a way to get some background info out or as int he Yanks ep, an attempt at humor. Really, most of the time when one character doesn’t know something it’s fairly believable and usually serves the plot. I do agree with you though that when the wrters attempt to get laughs at B/B’s expense It always seems more offensive than when any of the other characters are used for this purpose. But Booth playing dumb? The show has always made it clear that this is a character trait, probably an unconscious attempt at appearing less threatening (which would be important if you’re trying to outwit someone) so I just let it go most of the time. It certainly didn’t keep Pritch from planning her own Mt. Everest expedition with him.

    • I don’t even see where Booth actually played dumb in London. Wait, there was perhaps one time at the end, but it didn’t have anything to do with London, it had to do with Brennan and the Ian Wexler guy. I think he said something about how he was just looking out for her, when really, he was just blocking Ian. And I didn’t take offense to the stereotypical American behavior – it’s a common form of entertainment to poke fun of your own. There has been some poking fun at Canadians, too, and I think that was done just to poke fun at Hart, so I don’t take that too seriously, either. The Booth I saw was mainly irritated and a little cranky because he couldn’t get his coffee. I think it’s totally in character for little things to “ruffle his feathers”, so to speak. Most importantly, I thought he was as professional as he ever his when he was doing his investigating.

      • Oh I don’t think its a huge deal that would make me quit watching Bones, or anything like that, just a couple instances seemed like maybe overkill or overacting? I guess I’m thinking of where he’s getting out of the car and screaming…it just was a bit out of place for me. But overall, I thought the episodes were well done and interesting. Just a personal preference thing I guess.

  4. Yeah, it happens sometimes, but I really don’t like to get upset about it. It’s all about entertainment. I think one of the great perks of Bones is that it runs the gamut with entertainment, so it happens that there may be something I won’t care for, but at the same time, it could be what someone else loves. And maybe one episode isn’t your style, but the next episode is. I remember meeting another Bones fan who said that they absolutely loved Yanks in the UK. And unlike many others, I loved the Double Trouble and Double Death episodes. There are so many other things to Bones that I like, and it really helps that I don’t expect to like everything in the first place, because that’s just impossible. Also, we have so much material, that when we don’t like how they were written in one episode, we can let certain things fade into the background when looking at their general characterization and the story as a whole.

    I think we also have to keep in mind that they don’t just write for the viewers. They write, probably primarily, for themselves. Sometimes we share their humour, sometimes we don’t. I’m not going to get mad at them and say they are terrible writers for it. But I share enough of their humour for me to be okay with it.

    And finally, in the TV business, showrunners are usually aware of what works and doesn’t work in general. I’m not saying they get it right all the time, but I think they do their research on what keeps an audience watching. Personal opinion doesn’t really matter all that much here, because a few people may complain and stop watching, but at the same time they could have picked up another hundred or more viewers, so the showrunners would consider it a win (see season 6.)

  5. I enjoyed Yanks and rather than seeing Booth as an ugly American I think the real purpose was to show that in his bull in a china shop way he made the snooty duke and his wife look silly. Booth was supposed to be ‘refreshingly honest’ in the same way the writers make Brennan say outrageous things ‘from the heart’. What didn’t scan was the fact that Booth has spent time in Japan and had learned the very complex social interactions there but couldn’t figure out Britain. The episode where making Booth dumb and Brennan smugly smart that annoyed me the most was The Science in the Physicist where Brennan put him down constantly and explained things as though he were a two-year-old. Writers trying to create humor from the characters reached an all-time low last season with the lame joke Brennan who carried on for most of the episodes. That was truly more painful to watch than anything that has been dumb to Booth. As Angela said, Booth is very good at playing dumb because he knows Brennan wants to be the smart one ‘so he lets you have that’. Also of course it puts villains off their guard.

  6. Things that I liked in Yanks:

    1. Booth’s bobblehead present

    2. BRENNAN: Why are you doing this with me and not Inspector Pritchard?
    BOOTH: Oh, come on, Bones. You and me, we’re the real deal. Ah, look. She’s having a tough time with this. I would, too you know, if you were killed.
    BRENNAN: Oh yeah, you’re sentimental that way.

    3.BRENNAN: But I didn’t sleep with Ian.
    PRITCHARD: (stopping) You didn’t?
    BRENNAN: No.
    PRITCHARD: Why not? You obviously fancied each other.
    BRENNAN: Yes, I noted several physiological responses to his presence which can only be explained by sexual attraction
    PRITCHARD: So why didn’t you sleep with him then?
    BRENNAN: Because of Booth.

  7. I see “dumb”/unadaptable Booth as akin to Brennan’s pop cultural dumbness/difficulty with change — his dumbness, her pop cultural dumbness and both their lack of adaptability seem to appear fortuitously. They arise when it suits the story. There are just too many things that seem obvious, but they don’t know them as well as too many things that seem obscure, but they do know them. Some situations they adapt and in other similar situations they can’t.

    Example: Given that Brennan knows old movies, I don’t see how she doesn’t know about the what happens when the hero has the librarian take off her glasses and let down her hair. This is one of the oldest tropes in movies — and probably in literature.

    In short, when the TPTB want dumb Booth, they write dumb Booth.

    • Another instance of this that I recall is when Brennan attends the dance class for the little girls in The Girl with the Curl and shows no knowledge of dance moves but by whatever episode it was last season that had the ballet dancer in it she suddenly knows every technical term for ballet moves. Booth, on the other hand, naturally has never heard of any of them. Brennan knows Seal but has never heard of Kurt Cobain, etc., etc. It’s a sort of episodic amnesia picked up and put down by the writers which has gotten increasingly obvious over the seasons.

      • Oh I understand about the epsiodic amnesia…I don’t know, something about the Yanks behavior just sort of rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. Maybe because Booth was coming off as insensitive towards a culture/group of people, and typically he is respectful and its Brennan, if anyone, who is abrasive. It just felt not genuine to his character or something…I’m not sure I’m making sense…my brain is turning to mush as we inch towards Thursday 🙂

      • I think the reason that it didn’t bother me so much is that I started watching Bones during the 5th season and so Yanks was just part of the season 4 DVD that whizzed right past me. If I had been watching episode by episode with a week in between, I might have felt the same way that you did.

      • A question I have to ask myself is: Just because I don’t like something that a character does/says, especially on rare occasion, does it have to mean that that they are acting “out of character”, so to speak?

        Sometimes I think Booth gets put on this pedestal on which he doesn’t really belong. He’s a good guy at heart, don’t get me wrong, but I feel as though we have been getting evidence every season of him at times acting obnoxious, rude, snippy, sarcastic, insulting, and you name it. So for me, him acting in certain ways does not seem as out of character to me as it does to other people. Including season 6; I felt the main differences were that since he was trying to move on, we didn’t get to see as many tender moments between B&B, and Brennan was more emotionally vulnerable than usual so we saw more of her pain. So I accept bad along with the good; I just know there’s a lot more of the good.

        I tend to think that Booth is considered the “heart” person moreso because of his knowledge of how people work, not because he is particularly good at relationships himself.

  8. Oh yeah, the other one that drives me nuts: Brennan not knowing what Monopoly and the “get of jail free card” are. She had a fairly normal American life for 15 years. I find it almost impossible to believe she had never played Monopoly. She might not have had many friends, but I learned to play with my family.

  9. I actually think that there’s a pretty decent balance between the “fish” and the “good-to-go” moments. I think they’re “good-to-go” whenever they’re on a case together, especially when they’re interviewing suspects and Brennan’s got all of her answers and Booth is piecing together his. They get that “dynamic duo” vibe. Brennan’s got the how and Booth gets the why. Perfection. And maybe the “fish” moments get old, but they’re only natural because of how different B&B are but how similiar they are at the core of it all. They’re both “fish out of water”, survivors of life traumas that often damage their respective abilities to relate to others.
    I agree that Booth is often put up on a pedestal that he doesn’t really deserve and Brennan is often cast as a complete social outcast that she’s not. Booth was a degenerate gambler, a sniper, and the son of an abusive alcoholic. His perceptiveness and affability shouldn’t be mistaken for social aptitude. And Brennan? She’s an anthropologist. Her job is to study other cultures, she can do what she often does in her own country: blend in and observe rather than participate. It makes her social difficult in the states, but that has no bearing on how she’ll fit in elsewhere.

    • I like this.
      I was trying to say this earlier, but I think you said it better: “His perceptiveness and affability shouldn’t be mistaken for social aptitude.”

  10. Yanks is an interesting episode. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of it, I think they wasted a massive opportunity and made a load of lame jokes based on stereotypes of both Americans and the British.

    They made Booth look like a tool, and the UK look like it was stuck in the 1800’s (Booth can’t tell the difference between tea and coffee / can’t find coffee in London. Are they kidding?) and the whole thing just rubs me up the wrong way.

    I think something the writers have done a number of times is use the leads as the butts of their own jokes. Just because they think it’d be funny to make Booth freak out at driving on the other side of the road, doesn’t make it accurate or fair to his character. They do the same thing to Brennan when they decide to over exaggerate her characteristics for comic effect (like mistaking Jersey Shore for a documentary *shudder*). The problem is, this tactic makes their lead characters look stupid, which any attentive viewer knows they aren’t.

    It’s so amazing that they came to the UK to film, it breaks my heart when I think how awesome it could have been 😦

    But I could never be sad for long today as hello, it’s the premiere tomorrow 🙂

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