Something Old, Something New: ‘Bones’ Hits 200

Photos courtesy of FOX
Photos courtesy of FOX

By Susan JAMES

Fox Studios’ long-running television drama “Bones,” now in its 10th season, will reach a milestone tonight, Dec. 11, that few shows ever achieve: It will air its 200th episode, “The 200th in the 10th.”  Soon to become the longest-running show in Fox history (with its 206th episode), “The 200th in the 10th” is a special homage to filmmaker great Alfred Hitchcock and the glory days of Hollywood.  Leading man and director of the episode David Boreanaz, who normally plays FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, is putting on his best Cary Grant as a jewel thief accused of murder. His usual partner in solving crimes, Dr. Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel, has morphed into the canny cop trying to catch him. In true “To Catch a Thief” style, the two antagonists find common romantic ground. A cast list full of guest stars like Ryan O’Neal and guitarist Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top are also scheduled to appear.

If ‘Bones” is looking to the past for its 200th drama, something new and exciting was revealed this season when Booth and Brennan moved into a strikingly re-imagined home. Showrunner Stephen Nathan wanted something completely different for Booth and Brennan’s new house and decided on a mid-20th century look. With that requirement in mind production designer Val Wilt and art decorator Megan Malley-Cannon have created a house that Internet fans of the show are clamoring to own. Inspired by the iconic Case Study House #9 in Pacific Palisades, designed in 1949 by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen, the Booth-Brennan house is a flowing series of glass-enclosed rooms built around an open garden patio that functions as an outside dining space.

‘It’s an evolving set,” said Malley-Cannon. “The home is, I think, a character in itself. It’s a mid-century home that has a multicultural feel. It’s American but pulls from other spots on the globe. There’s a bit of an Asian [vibe].”

Wilt agreed.

“The windows are [designed in a] shoji screen style,” Wilt said. The rolling wooden door he devised for the master bedroom would fit perfectly into a traditional Japanese home.

Said Malley-Cannon: “We wanted to make it warm and not a time capsule and that’s why we brought in a lot of the [ethnic] textiles.” Brightly colored handwoven kilim rugs cover the cork floors and do double duty as upholstery and wall hangings.

In last season’s finale, Booth and Brennan’s elegant, more formal home (also designed by Wilt and Malley-Cannon) was blown up. It was a home that Booth had created for Brennan. With the new house set, Brennan returns the favor. While Booth is locked up for three months in prison, she purchases and decorates their new home. With its warm tones and Booth-inspired memorabilia, the space becomes her gift to him. Another featured gift from Brennan to Booth is the period Wurlitzer jukebox backed by framed photographs of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Doris Day.

But it isn’t just the language of love between Booth and Brennan that is encapsulated in the new set. Together with satisfying the needs of the show and creating the space necessary for cameras and equipment, the designers also kept in mind the interests of the fans.

“There are some things that are fun for the fans to see,” Malley-Cannon explained, “and we kept that in mind.”

Online “Bones” buzz has already noticed the row of blue stadium seats, the black rotary telephone and the fighter plane tailpieces that are special to Booth’s backstory. But Wilt points out that, “Megan brought in some bits [that belonged] to Brennan as well.”

So a new collection of majolica pottery stands across from a Nigerian wedding basket and Booth’s plaster bust of Oliver Hardy shares space with embroidered Indian elephants, an antique Indo-Persian steel helmet and a wall plaque in the shape of Buddha.

Kids’ toys and craft projects are scattered around referencing Booth and Brennan’s young daughter Christine (played by Sunnie Pelant). A photo of her and her half-brother Parker have pride of place on a shelf in the bedroom.  Every section of the set has been thought out in astonishing detail. Film friendly and family ready, everything looks comfortable and everything looks used, an impression imperative for a family home that is actually a film set.

As “Bones” rings in its 200th episode, the new home set looks ready to welcome at least 100 more.

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