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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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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. It's questionable whether or not a piece of bloodstained cross would actually be found in Bath or whether or not 18th-century manacled slaves would be found in a ship off the coast of England. The mystery behind the location of the artifacts is part of the draw of the stories.
There are flashbacks in history throughout each episode that add a bit more mystery to the investigations. Dr. Gillian Magwilde (Julie Graham) has occasional psychic flashbacks as well that give the series a bit of a sci-fi twist.
Given the subject matter of historic battles and mysteries, there is some violence in the series although it's very well done and not overly graphic. Professor Gregory "Dolly" Parton (Hugh Bonneville) has a tendency to make comments with sexual connotations which portray him as a slightly dirty old man and there is the very occasional shot containing partial nudity.
All in all, the series is highly entertaining and historically interesting. It's an enjoyable blend of history, science, and drama with just enough action to keep your attention. Given the very occasional nudity, I'm not sure I'd recommend it for younger children but the series would easily appeal to the PG-13 market. The series is not rated at the time of my review but does contain the warning "Contains violence and graphic scenes" so use your own best judgment.
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. In the end, a connection to all of the episodes becomes evident, with a clashing conclusion. Remember it is as fictional as The Da Vinci Code, regardless of what was written in that book's opening page. But it's convincing enough, only the experts will notice the difference. Me? No! I simply enjoyed it all. Every episode has a "dig", each a chamber. Entertaining DVD to "DIG INTO."
YES, distributor Acorn Media has provided SUBTITLES.
Original TV airing was in 2008.
To much bonus to list, but you have the chance to select behind the scenes footage and interviews for selected phases of production with every episode. Quite interesting "making-of" stuff.
1 Army of God: A battle including Knights Templar. Were they carrying a precious cargo? A Christian relic? Includes a graphic broadsword beheading (not for children). Crusades come to 21st Century. A favorite line: "For the love of Jehovah, may we go to the pub?"
2 Warriors: Bones are recovered on a beach, bodies with no hands. Shackles also are found suggesting slaves. It's only the beginning of a complex mystery encompassing 2 centuries, multiple continents.
3 The Eternal Fire: Celtic 1st century relics are found under baths in the city, Bath. Celtic fires appear related to Roman fires as well as the lives of the 2 civilizations. Archaeologist science meets imagination.
4 The Cradle of Civilisation (spelling is correct): Babylonian artifacts appear for sale on the black market in Bath. Gillian's Iraqi ex-lover is looking to recover a tablet with prophecy (Babylonia's 10 commandments). Gillian wants to help.
5 The Lines of War: WWI tank is found in France with 6 body remains. But why also is there Joan of Arc clues? Much more than expected is discovered here.
6 Follow the Gleam: Gillian & Viv work on a new relationship. An Arthurian discovery (the Round Table?) is made in an area known as Camelot. Is it finally a break in Dr. Magwilde's quest for Excalibur? Archaeology turns vicious. Will Gilly end like her mother?
Good BBC drama presented in a unique form. My recommendation: "Let's dig!"
Tennyson recommendation: "The quest is everything."
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Then became a soap opera, gagg.
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