Acorn Media’s Bonekickers: The Complete Series

cover art for BonekickersNow this is a series that I think really needed a good script doctor! Understand that I would have liked the series if writers had found the intelligence to know when to restrain their silliness and figured out what they were trying to do but they didn’t. Hell, it got sillier and sillier as the six episode series ground down.

So what’s the show about, you ask? Well, here’s the press packet description that American Public Television sent out when they were offering it up to their member stations:

Powerful secrets from the past are brought roaring into the 21st century in the new six-part series BONEKICKERS. Set in the city of Bath, a place steeped in more than 3,000 years of history, this drama brings together a team of archeologists who seek to solve ancient mysteries, led by the feisty and passionate Dr. Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham, William and Mary). Each episode of BONEKICKERS is a window to a different period of history, including the excavation of murdered 18th century slaves, the possible discovery of the True Cross, the looting of Babylonian relics from the Iraq War and the exploration of secret chambers underneath famous Roman baths. Using state of the art techniques and old-fashioned digger’s instinct, Gillian and her team piece together incredible stories and conspiracy theories from history.

Well, sort of set in Bath. And France. And the Middle East (in part). And wherever else is needed to establish the story. Oh, and Dr. Gillian Magwilde is but one of five ongoing characters – all of whom are as important to the stories as she is. Mind you I do wonder if her rather Helenian attributes are why she gets top billing as her tits are displayed in a manner that suggests an attempt to distract the viewers from not noticing the really dumb plots.

The other three team members are Prof. Gregory Parton (Hugh Bonneville), Dr. Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester) and Viv Davis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). The grizzled character played by Hugh Bonneville gets the best lines. The fifth recurring character is a complete asshole and their boss to boot, Professor Daniel Mastiff, played by Michael Maloney (who really needs a better agent than he had when that agent got this role for him).

I got this set as the usual review copy from Acorn and I really thought based on the press that it sounded very interesting so I put into the viewing queue. But unfortunately, the series was damn awful. None of the characters feel terribly real; everything feels thrown together with more than a passing resemblance to a planned train wreck. A pity as I normally like most of the shows in this genre such as Torchwood and Demons coming out of the UK these days. This was just not one of their winners.

It’s amazing how horrible it is given it came from the creators of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, two must-see shows. The storyline, which has a cliched Excalibur premise,* is badly told and requires a leap of faith that even I who regularly read British fantasy couldn’t make; the dialogue is bad enough to make me want to rewrite it on the fly; and let’s not mention the back story that simply doesn’t hold together at all. Did I mention Dr. Gillian Magwilde and her awesome tits? They almost make up for the rest of this series.

Come now folks – surely you didn’t need to rip off Tomb Raider! And The Da Vinci Code … And Indiana Jones … You get the idea. My advice is skip this series.

*We even get a Lady in The Lake scene featuring a wet (of course) Dr. Gillian Magwilde rising up out of the water with Excalibur.

(ITV Global Entertainment, 2008. Acorn USA, 2009)

Cat Eldridge

I'm the publisher of Green Man Review. I do the Birthdays and Media Anniversary write-ups for Mike Glyer’s file770.com, the foremost SFF fandom site. My current audiobooks are Simon R. Green’s Jekyll & Hyde Inc., Robert J. Sawyer’s Red Planet Blues and Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time. I just read Kathryn Kristine Rusch’s Ten Little Fen which was most superb. My music listening as always leans heavily towards trad Celtic and Nordic music. I’m watching my way though all twenty one seasons of the British forensic series Silent Witness. Yes, twenty one seasons. And I keep adding plants to my flat here, up to nearly thirty now including a miniature banana tree which is growing nice and my first pineapple bromeliad.

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