Although apparently this BBC series was met with indifference during its 2008 run by our English friends, I quite liked “Bonekickers.” It helps, of course, that it adhered to the British tradition of getting out while it’s good. None of our American, 24-episode-season shenanigans; “Bonekickers” called it quits after its sixth hour.
It’s a brainy adventure show in the same realm as “The Da Vinci Code,” but entertaining. That’s a lazy reference, but apt is apt. Julie Graham stars as Professor Magwilde, leading the charge of a ragtag team of university archaeologists who look for artifacts from the past in the present. Imagine “Indiana Jones” minus the giant boulders, airplane plunges and trips in the fridge.
The twist is that each episode’s Holy Grail, as it were, has ramifications linking it directly to present day. For example, an evangelical leader will do anything to get his hands on a piece of Templar Knights equipment. For another, the discovery of slaves’ corpses echo in the campaign of an African-American political candidate. And for yet another, a vase with a supposed link to the stars sets tongues a-wagging among Baghdad occultists. The final ep saves the best for last with the sword of Excalibur.
These historical mysteries — which Magwilde detests cracking — are enjoyable, but non-addictive. The touch of the supernatural in plot points is welcomed, even when it makes things look hokey (see the obviously CGI creation of the killer snake). Graham may not be as captivating at seeking treasures as your Harrison Fords or Nic Cages of the world, but her presence as a “normal” female — versus the rail-thin variety — is refreshing, and her rapport with colleague/ex-lover Adrian Lester (“Primary Colors“) is winning. Secondary characters, however, fare less well.
It’s not going to go down in TV history, but your DVD player won’t mind kicking it around for half a dozen hours. With credible thrills, I’m placing the series somewhere between the classy “Torchwood” and the cheesy “Primeval.” —Rod Lott