Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz
Once again testing the audience's willingness to follow Bones all over prime time, Fox follows up its non-surprise eighth-season renewal by moving the enjoyable romantic/forensic procedural to yet another night: Mondays at 8/7c, in front of the soon-to-depart House. Resuming after a nearly three-month hiatus, Bones' return is a big deal for fans and a blessed event for Bones and Booth, who welcome their baby daughter amid the sort of preposterous only-on-TV circumstances that might prompt Lucy Ricardo to declare the whole thing a little bit wacky.
We pick up with the expectant couple debating whether to deliver the baby in a hospital (Booth's rational choice) or at home "where I can control things" (Bones' stubborn preference, as she takes great and comical pains to point out the lurking germ residue in your modern medical establishment). But first, there's a case to solve, and the ick factor is considerable as the way this week's victim surfaces is the stuff of any child's toilet-training nightmare. The grisly trail leads to a prison — a salve for those missing Alcatraz? — where the mystery lies not only in whodunit but how in the world did they dispose of it.
As is often the case, resolving the case is secondary to the dynamics between Bones (Emily Deschanel), who's about to pop, and Booth (David Boreanaz), who's apoplectic over her insistence to put herself in the center of the action, even if it means wading into the middle of gen pop and inciting a prison riot. "You're not Superwoman," he tells her. She begs to differ. And while the birth sequence is, to put it mildly, labored, it provides a sweet and silly showcase to welcome the show back.
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EQUAL WRITES: Their books are legendary, the movie adaptations iconic. But the two Pulitzer-winning Southern woman writers profiled in back-to-back American Masters documentaries on PBS — Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel and Harper Lee: Hey, Boo (check local listings) — remain enigmas, their reputations resting on a single masterpiece each: Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Rebel is a sketchier bio, using re-enactments to tell the story of a willful Atlanta maverick ahead of her time, whose Civil War epic has come under fire for romanticizing slavery. As a student at Smith College in Massachusetts, this rebel debutante is said to have refused studying with a black person in the same class, but later in life, she became a philanthropist who helped educate black dentists and doctors, and fund a hospital for African-Americans. "I wasn't cut out to be a celebrity. I don't like worth a damn," Mitchell once said, sounding a bit like Rhett Butler.
The Harper Lee bio is more artful and heartfelt, with testimonials by writers and media stars including Oprah Winfrey and Tom Brokaw, who read movingly from the Mockingbird text as the novel's impact on the civil-rights movement is explored. Like Mitchell, Lee struggled with the spotlight of fame and hasn't granted an interview since 1964. But her wit, warmth and integrity shine through — she may not live in the public eye, but she's far from a recluse — and as we listen to middle-school students from the North and South continue to discuss the book with passion, we're reminded of great literature's enduring appeal.
NIGHTS OF DAY: In celebration of her birthday this week, Turner Classic Movies salutes the legendary Doris Day with a weeklong tribute of movies to coincide with Tuesday's release of a new 2-CD collection compiled by Day herself. TCM's salute gets off to a relatively kitschy start tonight (8/7c) with such '50s relics as Lullaby of Broadway and By the Light of the Silvery Moon but continues all week, with some of her classic '60s comedies on Tuesday (Lover Come Back, That Touch of Mink, Move Over, Darlinglove me ) and ending on Friday with her landmark performance as torch singer Ruth Etting in Love Me Or Leave Me.
CHANNEL SURFING: Kansas plays Kentucky in the NCAA men's basketball championship game (CBS, 9/8c). ... Sick of watching the same old SpongeBob SquarePants episodes over and over? For the next two weeks, Nickelodeon is airing new episodes at 5/4c, paired with new episodes of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness at 5:30/4:30c. In today's episode, the exasperated Squidward issues Bob a restraining order. We'll see how long that lasts. ... 'Shipper alert (as if the birth of Bones' baby isn't enough to satisfy you): Following last week's developments on ABC's Castle (10:01/9:01c), when Castle pulled away from Beckett thinking she'd been playing him for a fool, Beckett's BFF Lanie urges her to make her feelings known before it's too late. In the meantime, a handsome Scotland Yard detective arrives to work a case with them. Consolation prize? ... While NBC's The Voice (8/7c) moves into the live performance phase — elimination results are Tuesday — Dancing With the Stars (8/7c) allows the 11 "stars" still standing to perform in any style they choose, with a routine reflecting a memorable year in his or her life. ... On Smash (NBC, 10/9c), it looks like the snit is about to hit the fan, when Julia's husband learns about all that backstage hanky-panky. Maybe he'll take it out on Ellis.
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