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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Digging into mysteries of the past

From the creators of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes

Past and present meet with explosive results in this British drama series called "a bit of Doctor Who fantasy, hints of a Da Vinci Code riddle, and even elements of CSI" (The Times, U.K.). Led by the fiery Dr. Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham, At Home with the Braithwaites), an intrepid team of archaeologists finds mud, blood, and death-defying adventure when they start digging.

Set in the beautiful ancient city of Bath, the series blends modern forensics with historical mysteries for exciting entertainment. The top-notch cast includes Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill, Iris), Adrian Lester (Primary Colors, Hustle), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who), and Michael Maloney (The Forsyte Saga), with guest stars Eamonn Walker (Oz) and Burn Gorman (Torchwood).

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE behind-the-scenes segments for each episode.

Bonekickers, like Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels, is a dramatic series about sharing the excitement archaeologists feel when they unearth treasure, but it has a more academic side that lends it credibility. This British serial, set in the scenic town of Bath, stars a team of scientists from the local university who, during each episode, discover historical artifacts that shock their community. While the discoveries are distinctively tied to actual European history, Bonekickers is gripping and accurate enough to keep American viewers invested in the stories. Dramas among the team, headed by renegade professor Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham), relate to their projects and are exacerbated by public meddling. Dry wit and uncanny occurrences add humor overall, making for a series that does drift into melodrama but for the most part feels educational and funny. The "bonekickers," including Gillian, her trainee Vivian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Professor Gregory (Hugh Bonneville), and Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester), sleuth through mud and ancient tomes for relics and literary clues to support their outlandish cases. The first episode, "Army of God," begins when a construction team finds medieval Middle Eastern coins in a lot where a park is to be built. From here, one sees how the team deduces that Christian soldiers passed through England with valuables that sparked Holy Wars during the already-heated Crusades. Historical reenactments make tales of the past clearer and are tied to a concurrent narrative about Evangelical Christians in contemporary life. In episode 3, "The Eternal Fire," the real-life drama is more riveting than the archaeological find. Earthquakes under a Roman bathhouse in Bath lead Gillian and Ben into the catacombs, but the emphasis is on their personal relationship as they face danger. While each segment features digs that reveal British history, it is not until episode 6, "Follow the Gleam," that one really understands the links between each show. In "Gleam," the viewer gets to know stoic Gillian better when her obsession with Excalibur is exposed during the discovery of a possibly Arthurian round table. Because one begins to understand Gillian's wish to avenge her mom's untimely death, Bonekickers becomes much less about adventure and more about how and why humans seek answers on personal quests. From here, the show takes on a deeper dimension. --Trinie Dalton

Stills from Bonekickers (Click for larger image)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Julie Graham, Adrian Lester, Hugh Bonneville, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 2010
  • Run Time: 344 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,828 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Ellen P. Lafleche-christian on January 13, 2010
Format: DVD
Bonekickers is a modern day British drama series about a team of archaeologists. Bonekickers is from the creator of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. It stars Julie Graham, Hugh Bonneville, Adrian Lester, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

The series is sort of a combination of the British sci-fi series, Torchwood, and the American crime drama, CSI. It's set in the city of Bath in England and combines modern forensic science (like CSI) with mysteries from the past and has a touch of sci-fi in it as well.

Bonekickers ran for one series in 2008 and was not renewed for a second series. There were a total of six episodes, all of which are contained in this three-DVD package. DVD special features include behind-the-scenes segments for each episode.

Dr. Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham) is the leader of the archaeology team. Professor Gregory "Dolly" Parton and Dr. Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester) work on the team with her and Vivian Davis (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is an intern. Each episode is capable of standing on its own although you'll get a better feeling for the characters as a whole if you watch the entire season.

The archaeological finds that are unearthed are always a bit of a mystery. They don't tend to be found where they're supposed to be and that's part of the interest in the series. For example, the first episode is about a blood-stained piece of wood believed to be from the cross that Jesus was crucified on. It was found in a cave in England and nicely meshes with the legend of the Knights Templar.

The starting point of some of their archaeological finds is probably not historically accurate.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on December 17, 2009
Format: DVD
BONE-TICKLING GOOD if viewed as entertainment for ADULTS not concerned with complete factual information. It has a bit of fantasy, a lot of action (violence & graphic), and suspense aplenty. Not being an archaeologist nor a European history expert, the plots of the episodes were convincing enough to carry the story. This short-lived 6-episode series "BONEKICKERS" is acted well enough to make it a worthwhile DVD keeper. Scenes from contemporary Bath, England, are visually romantic.

The Wessex Univ Archaeological Dept. team has a major relic to uncover and then to discover the current-day ramifications of the artifact. Both the past and the present is a mystery every time, much to the delight of the mystery-loving viewer. A linking thread is a continuing plot relating to Gillian's mother, Karen, obsessed to madness over her sword quest and journal, of which has been absorbed into the life of Gilly, aka Dr. Magwilde, protagonist of the series played by Julie Graham (beautifully so). Prof. Gregory Parton (Hugh Bonneville) has plenty of funny dialogue about Gilly's chest, and not a chest found buried in the ground. Dr. Ben Ergha (Adrian Lester) a young black archaeologist of the department makes up the university staff. Well, except for the less-than-competent dept. head Daniel Mastiff (Michael Maloney). A very young black intern, Viv (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), arrives on the scene. She's unwelcome by Gilly, due to Viv's inexperience or beauty or anyone's guess. Quite soon into the episodes, they all feel like family to the viewer.

The writer actually suggests an "Indiana Jones" comparison, but this is better in the way historical and contemporary worlds merge. There's enough Gothic, war, Celtic, and Medieval violence to keep the young kids away.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Never the Twain on February 4, 2010
Format: DVD
If the title of my review suggests that Bonekickers is slightly shallow entertainment, and I'm not saying it is, that shouldn't be taken as any kind of knock against the show. Bonekickers is unashamedly lightweight fun, brought to life by some very fine actors (especially Adrian Lester and Hugh Bonneville) and devised by some very fine TV writers. Those writers, Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharaoh, were also two of the creators of the classic Life on Mars. While I wouldn't put Bonekickers up on that same pedastal, it's a class act and thoroughly enjoyable.

Some have pointed out that the history on display in Bonekickers may not be 100% accurate, as if that somehow makes the show sub-standard. I'll leave it to the history majors to weigh in on that. For me, the idea that Bonekickers plays fast and loose with historical facts (and I'm sure it does) doesn't bother me any more than knowing that Life on Mars is almost certainly not a thoroughly accurate depiction of 1973 police procedures. Quite the contrary, like any good TV show from Doctor Who to The West Wing, Bonekickers exists on its own terms, and for six hours of escapist entertainment that's more than enough..
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris Gibbs on March 18, 2010
Format: DVD
I had hopes for this series but was let down. I was willing to accept ridiculous plots in exchange for good acting and some archaeology. The plots were indeed ridiculous and the acting was fine. But their depiction of how archaeology is done disappointed. People picking up artifacts and carrying them off before mapping them in. No grid lines marking off units. No photography of artifacts in situ. And when they find the piece of cedar from the Holy Land infused with blood, nobody mentions that crucifixion was a common form of execution in that place, at that time? C'mon. I'll suspend a lot of disbelief and forgive a lot in the bargain, but this series really pushed me to the limit.
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