Critic's Guide to Thursday TV: Return of Bones and Burn Notice and More!
Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz
"Sort of like an eclipse — it doesn't happen that often." That's Angela's wry take on the remarkable sight of "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) crying copiously at a grisly crime scene, as Fox's Bones (9/8c) finally begins its seventh season, re-establishing itself as one of TV's more enjoyable procedurals. These aren't sympathy tears, of course, or sobs of horror — have you met Bones? — merely a flood of hormones, as she is now well along in her pregnancy. But she's still only making tentative steps toward commitment with baby-daddy Booth (David Boreanaz), who gets pretty testy himself when it comes to details like where exactly they're going to set up a nursery for their bundle of joy: his place, her place, or maybe an "our" place?
As usual, these emotional concerns upstage the crime-of-the-week, which involves a rotting corpse found in a paintball war zone. Upon examination — which includes an icky moment when beetles erupt from the brain, grossing everyone out but buggy Dr. Hodgins ("Come to papa, my little friends") — the victim is discovered to have suffered from retrograde amnesia, and finding out what she did during her fugue state may help solve the murder. It's good to have this show back on Thursdays.
Same goes for USA Network's breezy spy caper Burn Notice (10/9c), which is back to wrap its fifth season with six new episodes. The action picks up with Michael unhappily under the blackmailing thumb of the despicable Anson (Jere Burns), who we learned in the summer cliffhanger is the last remaining member of the organization that burned Michael. With our hero (Jeffrey Donovan) in line for a security upgrade at the CIA, the timing couldn't be worse for him to be played as a pawn. As Michael notes: "For a spy, the worst thing that can happen is to become someone else's asset." This week's mission, on Anson's orders, sends Michael and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) to Puerto Rico to steal — or, as Fiona puts it, "Think of it as sharing at gunpoint" — a computer-virus software program. Complications naturally ensue as we wait for Michael to figure out how to get the upper hand on his latest foe. When Anson brags, "There's no moves left on the chessboard," we're left wondering how long it will take before Michael can announce "checkmate."
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On a more somber than usual outing of CBS' hit The Mentalist (10/9c), directed by Simon Baker, the trail of a serial killer leads Patrick Jane to a blogger (the excellent David Paymer) who's as obsessed by this case as Jane has long been with Red John. "This [San Joaquin Killer] is a man to be feared, not pitied," the blogger insists to Jane, whose views on who-dun-it differ significantly, and the trap he prepares to prove his theory has unintended consequences.
The comedy corner: The girls have really come into their own as scene-stealers on CBS' The Big Bang Theory (8/7c), and this week they appear to be carrying the "A"-story, as Amy (the hilarious Mayim Bialik) feels left out when Bernadette takes Penny shopping for wedding dresses without her. Can they all still be "besties" after this snub? ... On NBC's cult comedies, John Goodman returns to Community (8/7c) as the calculating Vice Dean of Air Conditioning Repair, who has his sights set on young Troy. We also meet Pierce's father, which qualifies as a "who knew?" ... Pawnee is contemplating the End of Days on Parks and Recreation (8:30/7:30c), while the "Doomsday" device on The Office (9/8c) is Dwight's creation, an attempt to bolster efficiency that could end up getting everyone fired if all their mistakes are exposed.
The best thing to happen to CW's The Vampire Diaries (8/7c) this season has been the addition of Rebekah (Claire Holt), that naughty vixen of an Original vamp, pouty sis to the powerful Klaus. She has really been making herself at home since arriving in Mystic Falls, and tonight she and Elena mix it up in what the network describes as a "mean-girl power struggle." I am so there.
Remember when: ABC's Grey's Anatomy (9/8c) still has its moments, but it will be difficult not to pine for the show's glory days when dear departed George O'Malley's mom (the great Debra Monk) visits Seattle Grace, this time to repair a surgery she got at a lesser hospital. We still miss George.
Stranger than fiction: HBO's documentary unit presents Marathon Boy (8/7c), a real-life Slumdog Millionaire (with a less happy ending), filmed over a five-year period in the young life of Budhia Singh, who became a national sensation in India when the mentor who took him off the streets nurtured him into a long-distance runner at the age of 3 and 4. What follows is a cautionary tale of fame, exploitation and legal misery. ... The latest from OWN's Documentary Club is Crime After Crime (9/8c), about the legal battle to reopen the case of Deborah Peagler, a victim of domestic abuse serving a 25-year prison sentence for her connection to her boyfriend's murder. ... More real-life women-behind-bars drama, as TLC's docu-series Cellblock 6: Female Lock Up (10/9c) begins a second season, revealing the harrowing conditions in Cincinnati's Hamilton County Justice Center.
And finally, the first of the Top 12 acts gets eliminated on Fox's The X Factor (8/7c). Pray it's one of the groups. And can't we just give Melanie her record deal already?
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