Archeology never seems all that exciting to me. Sitting around a pit, carefully brushing dirt off of bones and ancient relics, I guess it appeals to some, but it just doesn't seem like a profession for the thrill seeker. That is, unless you're an Indiana Jones type, an individual who is suddenly thrust into a high-stakes game of real-world danger, all hinging on the fate of ancient artifacts. Then, suddenly your life is full of exciting exchanges with eccentric millionaires, psychotic cults, and jealous archeological colleagues. The British television show 'Bonekickers' mixes together 'Indiana Jones' and 'National Treasure ' and comes up with a show that isn't all that original, but is a somewhat decent way to pass the time.
Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham) is a well-known archeologist who runs a team out of a British university. Spurred on by her archeologist mother, Gillian is driven to continue on in her mother's footsteps. Even though each of the show's six episodes more or less stand on their own, there is one connecting tissue throughout the series. Gillian is searching for something her mother was searching for, something that, in the end, made her mother completely mad. A certain mythological sword.
On her team are Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester) who is the level-headed member of the bunch. He and Gillian have a romantic past, but they rarely let it get in the way of their work. Gregory Parton (Hugh Bonneville) is the unconventional part of the team. He's a well of historical knowledge, packed in with a dry wit and a penchant for sexually inappropriate talk in the workplace. Finally, there's Viv Davis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) the bright, spunky new intern who may be hiding her own secret or two. Together they are a force to be reckoned with in the field of archeology. They travel Britain and Europe during the series' six episodes, tracking down all manner of famous ancient artifacts. Each episode features artifacts or resolutions to age-old mysteries that are earth-shattering to say the least. At the rate this group comes face-to-face with the most famous tales and artifacts of ancient history it makes one wonder if they actually ever have any downtime. From the cross on which Jesus was crucified, to the bones of Joan of Arc, this team usually falls into theses mysteries like it's an everyday thing for them.
The convenience of the script and its stories aside, 'Bonekickers' does provide a few hours of honest-to-goodness entertainment, even if that entertainment is at times painfully concocted to elicit the greatest number of "Whoa!"s from the audiences. After the fourth or fifth history-changing discovery it's hard to not sit back and laugh at the entire series. Even then, it can and should still be enjoyed on a 'National Treasure' level. An unbelievable, yet entertaining ride through made-up history and convenient storytelling.
Is 'Bonekickers' the best show to come out of Britian? Nope, not even close. Is it somewhat entertaining, yes it is. If you're looking for a series to pass the time with, then 'Bonekickers' is for you. Don't expect any revelations in acting, screen writing, or storytelling. Instead just sit back, relax, and laugh your way through six fun episodes.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Acorn Media has brought 'Bonekickers' to Blu-ray. The six episode series is pressed onto two 50-GB Blu-ray Discs. The set comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a slipcover.
'Bonekickers' is presented in 1080i. It has that standard British television show look with its native rate of 24 frames per second. This is actually a very good looking presentation. It has a few minor hiccups along the way, but overall it came out rather nice indeed.
Detail is in top form as faces, hair, and the artifacts they unearth all harbor intricate, visible detail. From freckles to the individual curls of Mbatha-Raw's hair, there is quite a lot of fine detail to take in. Where the fine detail is lost a bit, is in the show's few special effects – like a decapitation for example – which look very low budget indeed. While colors are well represented here, especially the greens of the English countryside, blacks seem just a tad off. They appear a little lighter and less deep than I'd like to see them. Crushing, in turn, becomes a bit of a problem during the episodes that feature predominantly dark surroundings like when Gillian and Ben are stuck in a cave together.
With that said, those nit-picks are rather minor. Once you see the Blu-ray I'm sure you'll concur. I didn't pick out any errant compression artifacts, banding, or aliasing throughout the six episodes. A decent presentation all the way around.
I wasn't that impressed with the 2.0 LPCM Stereo presentation. It's loud, but that's about all there is. It isn't necessarily nuanced or mixed with finesse. It's loud enough to, at times, make you think you're listening to a surround sound mix. The show's intense action-centric soundtrack bowls over the rest of the action happening on screen. The historical flashbacks are usually always louder than the present day, which was a bit jarring every time there was a flashback.
Directionality, while there, is actually pretty minimal. Voices aren't really distinctly placed in one speaker or the other. The show's mix seems ambiguous when it comes to dialogue. There are times where a character will yell from out of frame, and that voice is placed correctly, but during normal conversations it seems like everything is shared equally front and center. Almost creating a mono-type sound.
It's corny at times. The characters are overly melodramatic, especially Gillian. The script is far too convenient for its own good. And yet somehow it all manages to be entertaining. It isn't thought-provoking by any stretch of the imagination. It's purely based on a turn-your-brain-off level of entertainment. Even though the characters spew historical and scientific fact, it's pretty easy to see they're basically much full of it. It doesn't matter to me though since I found the first 'National Treasure' movie entertaining, and for all intents and purposes 'Bonekickers' could be its long lost British twin. 'Bonekickers' is worth a look if you're hunting for something sort of fun to watch.