All Gabe Hemingway wanted was to meet his celebrity crush at Comic Con, yet the supernatural bad luck he’s carried his entire life kicks things into overdrive when he’s adopted by a lunatic wizard and his Egyptian priestess partner to track down supernatural smugglers. But perhaps this meeting was a blessing in disguise…
The origin story of Gabe is an original radio play written by myself and Midnight Marinara MC David King.
Got a Goodreads account? Enter this giveaway for a chance to win both Bishop & Holiday books, autographed by me! Interdimensional travel, red tape in the afterlife, mythical babes, three-headed dogs, alien spiders, and daemonic possession: all in a day’s work for the Bishop & Holiday Paranormal Agency.
GHOUL SCHOOL 3D
For Heretic and Gzdoom
Save your prom date (and the rest of the school) from an ill-timed ghoulish apocalypse. Solve puzzles with your brain and hit undead monsters with your bat. Talk to people and friendly monsters for clues and important items.
Based on Scott Marshall’s NES game of the same name, and tries to stay true to his original vision to the best of its ability. Maybe. I dunno, maybe it’s way off. It’s fun anyhow.
Child Defective Services
A Half-Baked Bishop & Holiday Short
Miss Folz was staring at Mikaela as if the dainty ten-year-old Latina had been speaking Japanese. The child stood before the class, gesturing to an elaborate presentation about Nikola Tesla’s theory of “cold fusion”, complete with photographs, charts, and quirky headers and labels written in bright blue marker. The whole thing was assembled collage-style on a broad piece of blue posterboard and stood almost as tall as she did.
Mikaela suddenly looked insecure. “What?”
Miss Folz shifted in her seat and leaned on her desk, head tilted curiously. “This just seems…remarkably mundane for you.”
The class tittered.
“Mundane?” said Mikaela.
“Yes. I was expecting something about ghosts or time-traveling dinosaurs again.”
Mikaela smiled. “Nah, I went vanilla this time. I mean, I had a project about the life cycle of a Yuggoth polymorph embryo, but it sorta got away from me.” She giggled for some reason. Then she gestured to her project. “Anyway, most of Tesla’s ideas were very conceptual, but the theory was–”
Just then the door burst open, and in walked Mikaela wearing a green flannel shirt and a white crochet bunny hat, its long ears trailing behind her like streamers. She had a spray can in one hand, and a look of determination on her face as she strode to the front of the classroom.
The first Mikaela went white at the sight of the second. “H-How did you get out of the trunk?”
The second Mikaela replied by applying the flame of a zippo lighter to the spray can, turning it into a miniature flamethrower: she doused the first Mikaela in flames and watched as she shriveled and smoldered like an old, dry bush. The classroom filled with the stench of ozone and burning rubber.
Mikaela wafted the smoke away from her face with a cough, then looked apologetically at her teacher. “Sorry I’m late,” she said.
“What,” said Miss Folz, “What, What was that?”
“Yuggoth polymorph,” said Mikaela. “I left the embryo in the car. I may as well have put it in an incubator.”
Dr. Bechdel looked like a librarian, if librarians served as the police on the lower circles of Hell. She walked rigidly as if she had a broomhandle for a spine, taking long, purposeful steps as she went. Her blonde hair was tied tightly back, her black suit tightly fitting and obsessively brushed, her chic librarian glasses molded onto her face.
She marched up the front steps of the old plantation house that served as the Bishop & Holiday Paranormal Agency building in downtown Arkham, Massachusetts. She rapped on the door with a rigid fist.
Dr. Holiday answered a minute later, adjusting his purple spectacles and smiling pleasantly. “Hullo,” he said, Kentucky accent as thick as butter. “How can I help you?”
Dr. Bechdel didn’t seem to know he was there. She smiled past him at the tall, slender Egyptian woman standing behind him.
“Good afternoon,” said the visitor. “I am Dr. Bechdel of the Arkham Child Protection Agency. Are you Miss Edna Bishop?”
Edna cocked an eyebrow. “Sure am.”
Dr. Holiday also cocked an eyebrow. “Ah…and I’m Dr. Holid–”
Dr. Bechdel cut him off, still ignoring him: “You should have been expecting me. I left a message on your machine. I’ve come to discuss the questionable living situation of your wards.”
Edna pointed at Dr. Holiday. “They’re not my wards. They’re the Doctor’s.”
Dr. Bechdel smiled condescendingly. “Yes of course. May I come in?”
Dr. Holiday admitted her. Dr. Bechdel marched right past him as if he were the coat rack, assessing the sprawling lobby and its archaic spiral staircase. The oak walls of the lobby were decorated with a plethora of eldritch artifacts that almost seemed alive, and Gothic paintings that seemed to watch her every movement.
“The Child Protection Agency,” she went on with a shiver, addressing Edna, “is greatly disturbed by Mikaela’s living situation here in this…carnival of the macabre. We feel it has begun to affect her psychological health, and insist on a full investigation.”
“You’re not concerned with Gabe’s mental health?” said Edna. “He’s the other ward.”
Again the smile. “Of course. Mikaela’s behavior at school is a strong indication of the poor influence this environment has had on her upbringing. She teaches strange spells and hexes to her classmates.”
“Harmless stuff,” said Dr. Holiday, trailing the woman like a neglected dog. “Really, I never teach my wards any of the dangerous–”
“She conducts inappropriate experiments on campus, sometimes for extra credit. Many of these experiments seem to be of a Satanic nature, and it disturbs the parents of the other students. They can’t abide such blasphemous and deranged behavior around their children. She’s lucky she hasn’t been expelled.”
“Really, ‘Satanic’ is an ignorant blanket term to–”
Dr. Bechdel withdrew a folded paper from her coat pocket and handed it past Dr. Holiday to Edna. “And have you been assisting with her school papers? This is her most recent assignment, where the students were required to write about what they did over spring break. Have you read it?”
Annoyed, Edna continued pointing at Dr. Holiday, but Dr. Bechdel didn’t seem to notice. “Again, his kids, not mine. He’s the guardian. Talk to him.”
Dr. Bechdel waved the paper in outrage. “A detailed account of her vacation on the Third Circle of Hell! And she swears up and down that it’s all true, every word of it! The school board is in an uproar as we speak! Two families have already threatened to withdraw their children from the school!”
“Didn’t they like the part about taking Cerberus walkies?” said Dr. Holiday.
“And not only is this environment unsuitable for young minds,” said Dr. Bechdel, turning up her nose at Edna, “it may even be dangerous, given the rumors of what goes on around here. I understand you fancy yourself an attorney of the dead or some such spiritual nonsense?”
Dr. Holiday opened his mouth to correct her, but stopped himself and sighed. He looked hopelessly at Edna.
Edna folded her arms. “You can scoff at our agency all you like. The Doctor may be eccentric, but the children are well cared for.”
“Well cared for? In this haven of Satanism and mad science?”
“The kids are perfectly safe and perfectly happy here.”
Dr. Bechdel adjusted her glasses. “Is that so? Then may I see her?”
Edna narrowed her eyes. “You mean them? Child Protection Services is concerned for Mikaela and Gabe, correct?”
Another condescending smile. “Yes, of course.”
“No, you may not see them. If you want to assess whether the children are being neglected or abused, or are living in an otherwise unsafe home environment, go through the proper channels and bring the appropriate paperwork. As it is, you’ve outstayed your welcome. Also, you’re weird and unpleasant and I don’t like you. Get out.”
Dr. Bechdel huffed. “Mark my words, I will be back. I will turn this place inside-out. And if I find it is an unfit home environment, I will liberate Mikaela from this ghastly place if it’s the last thing I do.”
“And Gabe,” sighed Edna as the woman marched out the front door.
“Yes, of course.”
Dr. Holiday closed the door behind her. He and Edna exchanged worried looks.
They walked up the spiral stairs, up the second floor hall, and re-entered Gabe’s bedroom three doors down. Teeny Latina Mikaela sat in her foster brother’s desk chair, spinning idly with boredom, the ears of her crochet bunny hat whipping lazily in the air. She smiled precociously at her guardian on reflex.
Sitting on the bed was the charred, skeletal husk of a twelve-year-old boy. Its empty eye sockets stared at the adults as they came back in.
“Who was that?” rasped the skeleton.
“Child Protective Services,” the doctor said dismissively. “Now, Gabe, start from the beginning and tell me exactly what happened to you.”
The basement laboratory intercom crackled to life in Mikaela’s voice: “Doctor!”
Dr. Holiday had been reading over the results of his extensive tests for the eighth time, while Gabe — or what was left of him — sat on the slate-top counter at the center of the room, a boy’s charred skeleton in a blue hoodie and jeans. He was staring at the doctor’s assorted jars and bottles of strange specimens lining the shelves on the walls; many of them stared back, or twitched, or glowed strangely in alien colors.
Ammut, Dr. Holiday’s familiar, laid next to the lab entrance, watching his master with his beady yellow eyes. Blasphemous science and ancient ritual had combined the essence of crocodile, lion, and hippo into this flabby mass — a golden, earless Garfield with a garbage disposal mouth.
The doctor continued reading on his mobile device as he turned to the intercom. “Yes, Mikaela?”
“Can I help with Mummy Gabe?” she said eagerly.
“You know the rules. You exposed your classmates to a hostile alien entity. That’s one week with no wi-fi, no Netflix, and absolutely no lab time.”
The sweet voice suddenly whined as if it were in pain. “¡Chale! Doctor, es ¡injusto!”
“Lee un libro.”
The doctor stood next to Gabe and tossed his mobile device onto the countertop. It was impossible to read the boy’s mood, what with his lack of a face, but given his history of suffering under the Black Curse of Hemingway — the bad luck curse that had plagued the boy since infancy, and orphaned him when a jetliner crash-landed on his house — he could safely assume the boy’s mood was more than a little apprehensive.
“What’s the prognosis?” said Mummy Gabe.
“Dead,” said the doctor.
“So what, you can’t reverse zombie-itis?”
“You’re a revenant, a person who has returned from the dead. A zombie is an animate corpse with no free will or personality, sorta like a robot.”
Gabe flailed his bony arms. “Whatever! Can you fix me or can’t ya?”
Dr. Holiday nodded. “It’ll take some doing. I’ll have to harvest some raw materials to revitalize your physical vessel, and the procedure itself may take at least a week. I called the school and said you were sick. They shouldn’t miss you.”
Gabe hung his skull and emitted a cloud of dust as he sighed. “Great. Make-up work galore.”
Dr. Holiday patted the boy on his shoulder. The skull dislodged and rolled under the counter. With a mighty skronk and supernatural speed, Ammut darted under the counter as his instincts took over. Furniture and trash bins scattered everywhere as he chased the screaming head across the floor, with Dr. Holiday in hot pursuit.
“Doctor,” said Edna through the intercom. “Dr. Bechdel is here with a correctional officer from the juvie branch.”
The doctor groaned. He said into the intercom, “Doesn’t that whackjob have anything better to do with her time?”
“They’re both standing right here,” said Edna.
Dr. Holiday hung his head. “Uh…Send ’em right down.”
As soon as he turned away from the intercom, he said to Gabe, “Take off all your clothes and lay on the counter.”
“Wh-what?” said Gabe.
“Do it! Hurry!”
Sixty seconds later Edna came into the lab, with the rigid Dr. Bechdel at her heels, her dagger-slit eyes judging everything they came in contact with. She took one look at the boy-sized skeleton laying on the counter and turned a shade green.
Following Dr. Bechdel was a meticulously well-groomed man in his early thirties, wearing a blue suit and vest complete with silver pocket watch.
“Excellent taste,” said Dr. Holiday, gesturing to his own vest and watch ensemble.
“Officer Lansing,” said the man as he flashed his badge, his eyes held fast on the skeleton.
Dr. Holiday introduced himself, eyes held fast on the officer’s holstered revolver. “That’s a big toy for a child corrections officer.”
“Have to carry when you spend most of the working day in gang territory.”
The doctor gestured to the skeleton. “You caught me at a bad time. I’m authenticating this specimen for the university. What can I do for you?”
“Dr. Bechdel asked me to assist her in assessing the living situation of your wards.”
Edna and the doctor both raised their eyebrows. “She actually spoke to you?” said Edna. “Eye contact and everything?”
Dr. Bechdel ignored the other humans, too busy trying to get away from the curious Ammut, who kept following her and sniffing her leg with his cold, wet snout.
“Well,” said Lansing, “she requested someone from Juvie, and the Captain assigned me. We didn’t exactly talk. She just got in the car and pretended I wasn’t there the whole trip out here.”
Dr. Bechdel pointed to the skeletal boy and said to Edna, “Is this sort of ghastly proceeding a daily occurrence?”
Edna shrugged. “He’s always working on something strange. People frequently seek the doctor’s expertise in ancient relics. It’s all pretty harmless, though.”
“Surely you don’t allow the children to participate.”
“Not when they’re grounded,” said the doctor.
“¡Injusto!” cried the intercom.
He reached past Lansing to hit the intercom button. “¡Silencio! ¡Lee un libro!”
“Judge says we’re supposed to speak to the kids,” said Lansing.
Dr. Holiday pretended to examine the skeletal boy, prodding him with a strange metal tool. On reflex the boy coughed a waft of dust into Dr. Bechdel’s face, who stumbled out of the room as a coughing fit assaulted her.
“Well,” said the doctor, brushing corpse-dust from his vest, “Gabe is sick in bed, and as his loving, caring, and highly responsible guardian, I can’t allow him to be disturbed.”
Lansing sneered. “Subtle.”
“Really? Not too hammy?”
Edna elbowed the doctor.
“Is that why he’s been out of school the past few days?” said Lansing.
“Unfortunately. You can see Mikaela, though, if it’s all right with the whackjob. I mean, the doctor.”
Lansing smiled awkwardly. “Won’t make a difference to her. Doesn’t seem to realize you have a boy as well.”
Dr. Holiday moved over to Edna. “Ed, could you find Mikaela and introduce her to our guests?” He added under his breath, “And, uh, tell her not to act any weirder than usual.”
Edna humphed wryly and led Lansing back up the stairs. Dr. Holiday saw them out and found Dr. Bechdel sitting on the hall floor, still coughing and looking like she were about to throw up.
“Sorry about that,” chuckled Dr. Holiday as he reached down to take her hand and help her up.
Like a wild west gunslinger, Dr. Bechdel drew a can of mace from inside her jacket and unloaded it in the doctor’s face. By the time he finished flailing, coughing, and screaming bloody murder, the hall was deserted.
Gabe was sitting upright on the counter when he staggered back in. “Can I get a grape soda?”
“After the Nazis leave,” said Dr. Holiday. “Your precocious foster-sister is comparatively normal, so she should be able to convince them to–”
A gunshot resounded throughout the house. Dr. Holiday was up the stairs like a rocket.
He found them all in his study, the adults gawking in silent wonder. Mikaela was sitting on the study desk. A half-dozen laundry clips were clipped to her face, and she wore a pair of boxer shorts on her head. In one eye was a shot glass, held in place like an alien monocle. She had evidently been using it to examine the double-barreled shotgun he normally kept mounted over the fireplace mantel; she had the weapon in her hands, and both barrels were smoking. Across the room, his bust of Dr. Henry Armitage had been blasted to smithereens.
When she saw him she smiled stupidly and awkwardly at him, and the glass fell off her face. “Forgive my clumsiness,” she said. “I, uh…I was merely cleaning your rudimentary firearm.”
Dr. Holiday’s heart sank into his rectum. The air grew thinner as Ammut growled from the study doorway — a low, ominous rumble while his beady eyes zeroed in on Mikaela, his fur standing on end, his tail twitching.
Dr. Holiday shoved past the gawking Lansing and Bechdel and held out his hand. “Can I have the gun?”
Mikaela looked at his hand curiously, then at the shotgun. She handed it to him with a smile.
He tossed it aside and leaned down so he was at eye level with the girl, adjusting his purple spectacles until they could register the odd glow behind her pupils — the sign that something else was occupying Mikaela’s skull. “Mikaela, darling, are you feeling all right?”
“Affirmative.” She said it casually, but she kept looking at the other adults, as if rating her performance in their horrified expressions.
“And do you, uh…do you know who I am?”
She tilted her head like a cat. “Mikaela…Darling…?” Her brain seemed to stall for several minutes.
Then her eyes lit up. “Oh! Darling! Of course!” The little preteen suddenly threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips. “Yes, Darling Husband, I am nominal!”
With a howl Ammut bounded into the room and pounced upon Mikaela, knocking her off the desk and onto the carpet. Dr. Holiday and Officer Lansing both pounced as well, Lansing grabbing the girl and pulling her to safety, the doctor hugging his familiar like a pillow and taking the brunt of its violent flailing: the creature shredded his vest trying to break free.
Dr. Bechdel was red-faced and ready to explode like a volcano. “I’ve seen just about enough!” she said, turning to Edna as usual. “I have never, in my ten years as an agent of the Child Protection Agency, seen such a den of lunacy and depravity! That anyone allowed you to take charge of a child of any age is beyond my capacity for logic!”
“I assure you, this is not normal even for us,” said Edna. “Ammut loves Mikaela!”
“It’s not Mikaela!” shouted Dr. Holiday as he wrestled the angry beast in his arms. “She’s been mind-swapped by some kind of entity! She has to be quarantined and studied!”
“She has to be taken outta this nuthouse as soon as possible,” said Lansing. “I’m calling Animal Control to take care of that monster first, and then I might just toss both your asses in jail!”
“On what charge?” snarled Edna.
“I’m sure I’ll think of something!” said Lansing.
“What the hell is all the shouting about?” said Gabe.
The room went dead silent as everyone stared at the skeletal boy in the blue hoodie standing the study entrance with a can of grape soda in his hand.
When she saw him, Dr. Bechdel screamed and fainted. Lansing screamed, dropped Mikaela, drew his revolver and emptied it into the boy at close range, perforating his skeletal body and spattering grape soda all over the hall. Riddled with bullets, Gabe banked off of the wall and collapsed on his face in the doorway.
“Wh-What the hell was that?!” said Lansing, his hands trembling.
Edna held her head and sighed in frustration. “The other ward.”
With a groan, Gabe slowly got back up, leaning wearily against the doorframe. He hacked, coughed, and spat a deformed bullet onto the carpet at Lansing’s feet.
“Keep ‘em,” Lansing said to Bishop and Holiday. He then scooped up the unconscious Dr. Bechdel and fled the house. A minute later they heard him cry out the same way Dr. Holiday had when she had maced him.
Dr. Henry Holiday sat in his laboratory, fanning through his annotated collector’s edition of Abdul Alhazred’s Necronomicon, muttering the title of each chapter as he scoured the book for the incantation he needed. On the workbench beside him sat a metal dish resembling an ash tray, in which a pile of chalky, bluish powder sat waiting.
Edna Bishop entered the lab without knocking, as always looking like a tall, slender Egyptian supermodel. She paused as she entered to recoil from the smell: the room was thick with a strong and inexplicably fruity odor that tickled her nose. She eyed the doctor’s suspiciously moist and muddied loafers.
“Didn’t know you were back already,” said Edna. “How was your cousin’s funeral?”
“Depressing,” he said with disinterest.
Edna moved to the tray on the workbench and poked her fingers in the blue powder, stirred it around, then smelled it on her hand. She winced as the same fruity smell assaulted her nostrils. “What are you doing?”
Dr. Holiday grabbed Edna’s sweater sleeve and gently pulled her backward with a look of mild annoyance on his face. “Ah, don’t…touch those salts, please.”
He stared at her in bewilderment for a moment, as if she had a giant, alien bug crawling on her head. Her raven black hair, despite being expertly cut just below the jawline, still bounced with almost unnatural downy softness.
“Your hair is different,” said the doctor.
Edna cocked an eyebrow. “It’s been different for two weeks.”
“I never noticed.”
“Shock and awe.” She gestured to the blue powder. “What are these, bath salts?”
“They’re Cousin Friday’s salts,” the doctor explained. “I need to call her up and ask a few important questions.”
Edna blinked, still wiping her hand on her slacks. “Whaddaya mean, ‘Cousin Friday’s salts?'”
“Unfortunately,” said the Doctor, still irritably fanning through the tome to find the incantation he was looking for, “she’s kinda hard to reach at the moment, being dead and all.”
Edna suddenly went very pale and her eyes became the size of golf balls. She held out her salt-soiled hand in horror, as if it had turned into a monster. “Whaddaya mean, ‘Cousin Friday‘s salts?!’”
Dr. Holiday looked at his partner as if the woman had just asked where poop came from. “I refined her former vessel into summoning salts so I can contact her spirit from across the astral plane. How else am I supposed to talk to her without swimming through endless Infernal Red Tape?”
Edna pointed at the blue dust. “That’s your cousin Friday?”
“No, those are her summoning salts. Friday is sitting in relative comfort on the first circle of Inferno by now, where all benign fools go after death. What I’m doing is similar to recovering her old, discarded phone, hotwiring it, and using it to send her a text.”
“You ground her corpse into a powder, and now you’re gonna call up her ghost!”
“I only borrowed a finger! You know how hard it is to make an effective summoning salt from one measly finger? It’s tedious and time-consuming enough, even without drawing the protection circle, which I don’t want in this case because I actually want her to recognize me. She’ll be panicky enough when I call her up.”
Edna threw up her hands and stormed out of the lab.
Dr. Holiday sighed and muttered, “Nobody appreciates necromancy anymore.”
When he found the incantation, Dr. Holiday punched it into his Triumph XP — the most expensive and sought-after digital fetish on the market, a hybrid of wand and spellbook. No sooner had the device uttered the incantation in its grainy digital voice, a trail of green smoke rose slowly from the blue salts and gradually formed the spectral shape of Cousin Friday, still wearing the chic party dress she wore in death. The dainty twenty-year-old redhead looked, to put it lightly, horrifically distressed.
“D-Doctor…?” whimpered Friday. “Is…is that you?! Oh thank god! You gotta get me outta here!”
“Friday, calm down. I need to ask you–”
Friday didn’t hear him over her own shrill voice. “They got me locked up in a tiny cage in Hell, and it smells godawful, and there’s millions of other caged people all around me, and they keep makin’ with this pitiful wailin’ and mopin’! I dunno how I got here, and I’m really scared and I just wanna come home!”
“Friday, you’re dead. You can’t come home. Now please–”
Friday did a dead-on impression of a sad-eyed basset hound. “Can’t come home?! Ain’t you, like, a wizard? Ain’t that how you called me? What am I doin’ in Hell, anyway?” She covered her mouth with a start. “Is it ‘cos I never went to church?”
Dr. Holiday removed his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Friday–”
“Or is it ‘cos of Angie? It wasn’t my fault Angie died! I mean, yeah, I coulda called 911 and maybe it woulda saved her, but I didn’t, like, murder her! I wouldn’t figure–!”
“Friday, calm down. It is perfectly normal to end up in Hell first thing. Everyone goes to hell for at least a week or so. I’m just calling on your mother’s behalf, to straighten out a few financial messes you left for her to clean up. For starters–”
Both ghost and necromancer froze, and stared blankly at one-another for a long, silent moment.
Dr. Holiday slowly pointed his finger at his spectral cousin. “Hang on a sec…you told me you found Angie dead.”
Friday squinted at him. “Hang on a sec, you mean everyone goes to Hell? What kinda bullshit system is that?”
“Don’t change the subject,” said the Doctor, leaning closer to the ghost. “You mean Angie was alive when you found her? Not dead?”
The ghost looked at the Doctor, then at the floor, then back at the Doctor. “……Yeah…”
“And you could’ve called for help, and could’ve saved her life?”
The ghost looked at the floor. “…..I guess so…”
“But you didn’t?”
“She was a bitch!”
Dr. Holiday held his head in his hands and let out a long, tired sigh. “‘Fraid that complicates things a bit, Friday.”
The shadows of the laboratory leapt off the walls and took the tall, robed shapes of three Infernal Harvesters, each breathing plumes of smoke from their blackened, skullish faces. Dr. Holiday made no motions or gestures to suggest he was the least bit surprised.
The first Harvester said in a hollow voice, “THIS SOUL IS DAMNED BY ORDER OF HIS EXCELLENCY MINOS. DO YOU KNOW THE PENALTY FOR VOLUNTARY NECROMANCY?”
The term “damned” was a serious one in Inferno: it referred to non-Limburbians, or inmates who were sentenced to the city of Dis, comprised of circles Six through Nine. As in, people who were being punished for genuinely evil acts.
Dr. Holiday cleaned his glasses nonchalantly. “This is all just a big misunderstanding, fellas. If you’ll just let me exp–”
The rest of his sentence came out in a wheeze as the first Harvester slugged him in the stomach. The other two stuffed his barely-conscious form into a large black sack.
“THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY.”
More lost “gems” from my Myspace blog archive. It’s funny how ten years later nothing has really changed in the realm of TV crime shows. A few people used to think my reviews were funny, mostly because of my idiotic MS Paint drawings I guess.
It’s funny to read my old writing and see how I’ve changed. I’m definitely not the sack of piss and vinegar I was in my twenties, probably because when you hit thirty you stop giving a shit. And yet the structure of my reviews and articles haven’t changed much since I first posted this review blog back in the early 2000’s. This may or may not be the first time I wrote a structured snarky review, so I guess I’ll keep it up on the site for now, MS Paint doodles and all.
Pent Up Frustration: Bones is a Shitty Show
Current mood: Bruckheimer’d
Guy Who Played Angel hasn’t seen many noteworthy roles since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were cancelled. He’s currently a lead player in the series Bones, yet another crime forensics drama using a specific gimmick to draw its audience in every week.
As you know, without a special gimmick, all these shows would literally be indiscernible from one-another. Jerry Bruckheimer kind of paved the way for this trend by having three CSI shows that take place in different cities. For example, CSI New York’s gimmick is that it takes place in New York, whereas CSI Miami takes place in Miami. A noble effort, but not quite enough to keep me interested or to convince me that switching casts randomly between these three shows would result in any noticeable difference.
Fortunately other producers and networks took the trend from there. Numbers features crime stories that are somehow always solved via mathematic algorithms. It doesn’t matter if the perpetrators are running around in a stolen ice cream truck selling black market Popcicles to kids, or if the FBI were on the trail of an elusive pair of shoplifters. The hero will find some kind of fucking algorithm that will somehow lead them to the criminals, like taking all the places they shoplifted on a map and plotting a curve and extrapolating where their next target will be, or studying the rhythm of the ice cream truck’s musical device to uncover their diabolical plot to rob a bank or something. It works without fail, and it’s usually ridiculous.
Then there’s Medium, which is about the exploits of an allegedly psychic woman who solves crimes by whining incessantly when people won’t let her read their minds. And of course there’s Cold Case, where the gimmick is that the heroes are investigating long closed cases nobody gives a shit about anymore. Hey, why don’t we make another show where the police investigate historical criminal cases where everybody involved has been dead for centuries? It could be called Why Not?
But I’m derailing myself. Bones has yet another gimmick to make it slightly unique from all these cookie cutter police forensics serials. In fact, it has several traits that make it stand out. And every one of them drives me nuts.
First, Guy Who Played Angel is in it, so you know it’s a winner off the bat.
Next, the main attraction. The heroine, Bones, is a boneologist or whatever the term is for someone who studies bones, and the crimes she faces all reach resolution through the analysis of a bone sample of some sort. It doesn’t matter what crime the asshole of the week pulled off, if this bitch gets her hands on his bone sample, he’s through. Arm bone with a slight scratch in it? Judging by the look of the scratch, this could only have been made by a serrated orcish battleaxe prop used in fantasy conventions. According to her skeletal structure, the victim also enjoyed playing tennis, was left handed, wore green apple lip gloss and had a big crush on Matthew Darling in her advanced biology class. The killer must have used his favorite prop to kill the girl after tennis practice because she liked Matthew more than him. Case kah-LOSED!
Another amazing ability the heroine has, other than being a more contemptuous bitch than Scully on X-Files, is that she apparently used to be an Olympian Amazonian princess like Wonder Woman, because it takes this scrawny twat zero effort to Steven Seagal a 500 pound thug through the floorboards. Aikido has taught me that you can be a scrawny princess and still subdue a giant beast of a man, but Bones’s martial arts prowess is never reinforced as part of her character except when it comes out of nowhere, so it’s cartoonish every time.
And lemme tell ya, the plot expositions aren’t that hot. I’ll give you an example of an episode I had the misfortune of watching.
Kid is found dead from a stab wound to the spine. Murder weapon nowhere to be found. Perfectly believable so far. The kid turns out to have been a comic writer, an employee at a bowling alley, and part of a band of role-playing geeks who like to pretend they’re super heroes. The kid’s comic features his own alter-ego as the hero. They question the nerds but get nowhere at first.
But then they find a chunk of bone. Hot damn, time to start fillin’ jail cells!
They try to match the bone sample to the kid’s own bone tissue and discover, lo and behold, he was suffering from a rare and highly lethal bone disease that he’d been keeping secret from his folks because he wanted to be a tough super hero. So they figure the fragment is from whoever killed the kid.
So now they start psychoanalyzing the comic the kid worked on. In it, his alter-ego keeps fighting this shadowy guy and trying to rescue a fair maiden who glows blue and whom he just can’t seem to have as his own. They figure all three characters are real people in his life, and start asking around again. While chatting with the bowling alley owner, Bones notices that his wife favors her left arm, a sign that she’s got broken ribs and is probably being slapped around by Hubby. Ah, but they can’t arrest someone on an assumption. They need proof. Just when they start wondering who to interrogate next, they make a shocking discovery.
The comic is written by the victim, but drawn by one of his friends.
Well, fuck me running, they’ve been on this case for a couple days now and looking in this self-published comic book for clues from the beginning and they never ONCE noticed the “Written By” and “Art By” section on the cover page? I hate this show already, but let’s see how it turns out.
So Bones and her pal, Guy Who Played Angel, question the artist as if he was being sneaky about it from the start — like it’s some kind of Scooby Doo plot twist that the writer and artist for a comic book weren’t the same person, unlike just about every other comic book ever put to print. With his insight they determine that the owner of the bowling alley was the shadowy guy, and his wife, whom he constantly abused, was the blue chick. Apparently, the victim saw an instance of abuse and tried to defend her with the weird triangular shank commonly used to clean bowling balls, jabbing the husband in the arm and chipping the bone (aha! our fragment!), but the kid was sick and weak and got pwned by the huge abusive pro-wrestler-looking asshole. So they go to the bowling alley and find the murder weapon, and hubby gets mad and throws a fit and gets Steven Seagal’d by Bones like he’s the size and weight of a toddler.
Bones could totally ruin Godzilla’s shit.
The epilogue would have been remotely touching had it any plausibility. Bones’s sketch artist makes a comic detailing the climactic struggle between the dead kid and the shadowy guy, and both of them vanquish each other, and the blue lady floats away to freedom saying “Thank you”. She gives this to the battered wife at the kid’s funeral, and had this miserable woman actually read any of his shit and understood the meaning behind his comics in the first place, which they never convey at any point in the episode, this might have had some kind of impact on her and on the audience.
I think in closing I’ll be brief and just state that television sucks. Go outside and do something productive.