Season 1 Episode 1

Army of God

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Jul 08, 2008 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
33 votes

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Episode Summary

Army of God
After the excavation of medieval soldiers, the team leads the hunt for the True Cross.

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  • This is one of my incredibly snarky recaps of Bonekickers. It's not intended to be an intelligent review of discussion of the episode, so please don't try and debate or get angry with me. My only intention is to ridicule.moreless

    WARNING: Bonekickers is probably the most stupid show the BBC has ever created. Watching it may actually cause your brain to hemorrhage. Do not try to recap this show at home!

    Bonekickers starts with a few medieval knights fighting some other medieval types in a dark and rainy wood. It's Bath 1307, "between the hospice and the playground", the show wittily informs us via a caption. This combat scene looks quite good and features some Excalibur ****fighting in the mud. The knights seem to be Templars as we see the Maltese Cross on their chests. The knights are quickly cut down and one sinks into the mud and rapidly decomposes where he lies. I guess we're flashing forward to the present day…

    I liked the opening, the action was more convincing than Robin Hood, it's a pity that the opening five seconds is the best part. We're introduced to two members of the team, Professor 'Dolly' Parton and the Man With No Gimmick or Ben if you prefer to use real character names. Dolly cements his only character traits in one short soliloquy, he doesn't like jobsworths and he likes going to the pub. Professor Parton is the crazy genius of the team; he calls himself Dolly and has a very silly deep voice that he uses to deliver inappropriate comments and pub facts. Good god, the pub facts are mercilessly pumped out by this guy. He probably hangs around pubs drinking real ales and intruding in other people's conversations so he can regale them with pointless information and indulging in intellectual masturbation He also wears a big coat and a big hat. I hate him already.

    The two archaeologists lecture two workmen about the virtues of history and archeology after a workman describes constructing houses as more important than "a bit of old history". Man With No Gimmick goes on to describe history as layers upon layers. The mini-speech is pretty awful and I actually LIKE history. The workmen, being representative of the average working man, want to build all over the boring old history and its layers so they can build houses for people who need somewhere to live NOW. Hmmm… with the current economic climate I would think that those houses may not actually end up getting built. Those builders should probably milk this job for all it's worth. The workers stop short of pooing all over the dig site and setting fire to the nearby Roman baths in a Neanderthal rage. I like to think that they sulk off to the nearest pub with a copy of The Sun where they can be racist, homophobic and misogynistic as all good TV working ****stereotypes are.

    Gruff Scottish Female Detective (or Gillian Magwylde if you prefer) turns up to scare away the workmen with her inconsistent Scottish accent (it's true, at one point she pronounces book as 'boook' and another time she says 'buk'. Well which is it, inconsistent lady?). I've called her a detective because she grumps at everyone and treats this whole archeology thing as if she's working in homicide in Glasgow. She looks at the coin the workmen have found (and cleaned apparently, it looks shiny and new) and asks how a coin from the Middle East got to Bath. Erm, well I don't know about the migration patterns of coins in the 14th century but I do know that Robin Hood has taught me that traveling from the Middle East to Britain at that time was incredibly easy and fast. You could do it in about a day. So I think it was brought by medieval day trippers.

    Roll opening title sequence! There's an explosion, some old writing in an ancient language and a flare being dropped in some water. Drama! Excitement! Oh, and some tents.

    Then Martha's Sister From Doctor Who (Viv for those who prefer the truth) appears as the audience point of view character. Yes, she's the rookie archaeologist who's generally useless and gets everything wrong. That is, until the last couple of episodes where she'll probably become uber competent. She talks to the Man With No Gimmick and gets shouted at for standing in the wrong place. She is also wearing a stupid tea cosy hat and has a crap perm, the production team have obviously decided to make her look stupid. Or quirky.

    I should note at this point that no-one talks properly in this show. Every line is delivered just short of a shout and is delivered with a ridiculous amount of over earnestness and gravitas. I want to hear one of these guys order Chinese food. It's like the duncan brothers directed it.

    Man With No Gimmick talks to the Rookie and gets all excited because they've found military equipment (what? Rocket Launchers? Tanks?) and says this area may been the site of a BATTLE! He says battle like an over excited 11 year old whose trip to the local site of interest has been made more exciting because some dudes may have stabbed each other a long time ago. He doesn't pick up a plastic sword and start running around excitedly though.

    This crack team of archaeologists are still mystified by the presence of Middle Eastern coins and steel in Bath. Because obviously none of the Crusaders would have brought back spoils of war from the their great journey. Man With No Gimmick describes this as "nuts!" He'll probably call toast "crazy!" next.

    The nearby hospice has some old people on a balcony watching the dig and looking bored. Don't worry this scene has no relevance whatsoever. Other than to show you the nurse who'll be getting magic Jesus powers later. Yeah, that's right, magic Jesus powers.

    The team find the bodies of the men we saw die at the beginning of the show. Scottish Detective tells Rookie to use her "archaeological imagination" to figure out how the bodies got there; I believe that's an accepted scientific method.

    The team go off to a party to meet their boss who's a sell out historian and thus THE ENEMY. I assume he'll hold them back with rules and regulations whilst they're trying to do their job DAMMIT!

    Rookie meets the nurse and they find something valuable in the mud (a large chunk of wood), so of course they use brute strength to tear it out of the ground. That's...just...dumb. The nurse gets a splinter, magic Jesus powers to follow...

    After some lab work the team figure out that the murder victims were Knights Templar. So we cut to the nutter brothers who've been brainwashed into believing that they're members of the Knights Templar. They also live in the most obvious studio set ever. We're introduced to an evil evangelist called Laygass who wants to kill all Muslims because he's super evil. He also looks like a plastic mannequin.

    The team give a potted history of the Knights Templar ("They were like the SAS and they slaughtered Muslims.") and Dolly gives a pub fact. Shut up!

    The nurse uses her magic Jesus powers to heal a terminal patient by prayer. Don't worry, this subplot isn't going anywhere.

    The team analyse the chunk of wood, it's a piece of the True Cross. Of course it is, it gives magic Jesus powers. The team fear an invasion of religious nutters on the dig site. They're not very tolerant, this lot.

    There's some more time wasting with the nurse as she uses her magic Jesus powers again, gah, padding! Then there's a terrible TV interview scene where a reporter talks to the nurse. The guy playing the reporter cannot He's awful and shatters any attempt at naturalism in this scene.

    The religious nutters and reporters descend on the site. We also learn that Gruff Detective's mother has gone insane, I assume there'll be a special episode dedicated to finding whatever it is she went insane over. I can't wait.

    The nutter brothers confront some Muslims and threaten to kill them. Unfortunately this scene is undermined by the Muslim leader's Dudley accent which I find hilarious. Sorry. The Muslims run away from the nutter brothers as they're waving swords around. The nutters do have a cool Maltese Cross T-shirt and trenchcoat look though.

    The Rookie is asked to go to the Gruff Detective's flat for the flimsiest of reasons, presumably so she can get into a scrape of some kind. I hate it when a show telegraphs its action scenes through lazy plotting. Still, someone might get stabbed or a car chase could ensue, so things are maybe looking up.

    The boss arrives and tells Gruff Detective that the dig site has been bought up by Laygass and will be declared holy ground. Gruff gets angry and says, "this is my jurisdiction!" Like an angry copper who's been taken off the case. They may as well call this show, 'Taggart: Extreme Cold Case.'

    The Rookie takes a look around Gruff's apartment and sees a picture of Gruff's mad mum and some star charts. Maybe she's in space? Or she was looking for a crystal skull and went mad? Somebody breaks into the flat (by using a sword to pick the lock) and instead of a confrontation or chase, we just cut to the dig site and Rookie appears there having simply escaped. What? Where's the action? This is such a lame cost-cutting cop out and it's also lazy writing once again.

    Gruff visits her flat to find that the burglars (the nutter borthers) have thrown a few books on the floor and tilted her lamp shade. She is very upset as she looks at the picture of her mad mum. Angst!

    We then see some racist transmissions from Laygass to really lay on the fact that he's EVIL. Yeah, we get it! Next up is a scene outside some building, we don't know where or what it is but we do see that the chief nutter is there with his sword waiting for the Muslim from Dudley. A scene from Highlander breaks out as the nutter decapitates the poor chap from Dudley! Sadly there is no lightning or Quickening afterwards despite the fact that the nutter is dressed just like Christopher Lambert. So we don't get a chase around a flat but we do get a gratuitous decapitation?

    Laygass reveals his evil plan to stop the dig and use the True Cross to raise an army to crush the infidels. It's not clear how this army will be raised, the plan probably goes like this:

    1. Get True Cross

    2. ???

    3. Destroy infidels with army

    4. Profit.

    The team follow up on the writings of a monk that witnessed the fight in 1307 and who probably knows the location of the True Cross. Dolly is sent to the library to find the manuscript. What follows is probably the worst library chase scene ever committed to television.

    Dolly sees someone following him through the library so he limply throws a book at the other nutter brother and runs out of door. Cut to the lab. That's it. Dolly escapes. Argh! So, cheap and stupid and lazy and arrrrrrrgh!

    Dolly has the information which tells them the Templars were killed by fake Saracens, the True Cross being smuggled away and hidden. Dolly and Gruff Detective decide to bluff their way into Laygass's complex and steal the rest of the notes they need to find the True Cross. They blag their way past a dim-witted security guard. They then search Laygass's office and steal the book they need.

    The book looks like it was printed yesterday as the pages are very clean and the printing looks very neat, despite the fact that it's supposed to be a 14th century text. The team have also creased once corner of the book which hasn't caused the page to crumble or break. From the book they guess where the cross is. The bad guys also guess this too, despite not having the book.

    The team meet a friendly farmer outside the church who happens to have a dovecote on his land. Dolly regales us with his knowledge of dovecotes and they find the worst secret passage ever. It's a plain trapdoor in the middle of the dovecote. How has no-one found the True Cross before?!

    The girls on the team lower themselves down into a vast chamber full of crosses. They were collected during the Crusades and brought back by the knights. Hold on. The team can believe that the crusaders can bring back a load of ancient Roman crosses to Britain but not Middle Eastern coinage and steel? Stupid!

    Laygass and the nutter brothers arrive and lower themselves down into the chamber of doom. Laygass threatens to kill the Rookie unless Gruff Detective helps him obtain the True Cross. Gruff Detective does what any true archaeologist would do in this situation, she sets fire to a cross. Great now she's joined the KKK.

    The most mental nutter lowers himself down and tries to kill the Gruff Detective by swinging on a rope toward her and waving his sword. This probably sounded very dynamic on paper but it's just inept on screen. Plus I don't think the director can really 'do' action. It's very poor but very funny. Also, why didn't the nutter just cut the Detective's rope to consign her to a fiery death? Guess that's why he's a nutter. Anyway he's eventually betrayed by his brother who cuts his rope and consigns him to a fiery death. Guess someone was listening to me.

    Laygass rants and snarls like an incompetent supervillain at this point, he goes to kill the Rookie but stops when she sings the hymn Jerusalem at him. Yeah, it was as awful as it sounds. This distracts him long enough for the Gruff Detective to set fire to him. He burns like he was soaked in petrol.

    The team escape and are reunited. Laytgass burns to death along with the nutter who played Highlander earlier. Depsite the horrific death of the two evil chaps and the probable murder investigation that will ensue, Dolly asks if they can go to the pub and they all laugh. Christ, these guys are remorseless killing machines! Two people just died and they're laughing their way to the pub!

    The surviving nutter looks sad as he'll probably never receive the mental care he needs to be reintegrated into society, plus those bastards are laughing about his brother burning to death. Sadly he doesn't hack them all to death with his sword.

    Then we see the True Cross burn. Very nihilistic.

    The nurse loses the splinter from her finger and with it, her magic Jesus powers. That was pretty pointless.

    Gruff Detective mopes about, thinking of her mother and swords.

    Next episode the team tackle slavery. I'm sure that will be treated as sensitively as religion was.moreless
  • Terrible archaeology, horrible history, but good fun.

    Let's face it; there is nothing sexy about archaeology. As an archaeologist (in training) I know this first hand. One is either hot, parched and uncomfortable, or cold, soaking wet and uncomfortable. Despite an impossible storyline and some truly horrible archaeological technique, however, of the plethora of cinematic representations of diggers (who I have never, EVER heard called Bonekickers) this version at least had a vague ring of authenticity. "In or away from the trench" truly is rule number one of excavations. The location of the nearest pub really is an excavator's #1 concern, and they wore hats! And wellies!

    This occasional authenticity, however, only highlighted the massive inaccuracies. Aside from the horrible science (Large chunks of organic material preserved for centuries? Unburied skeletons found perfectly where the fell? I DON'T THINK SO!) and the unlikely timeline of excavation and preservation, there were numerous other practises, such as wandering around with a hunk of 2000 year old wood like it was a football, that sent me into apoplectic fits. The fact that there was the pretence of accuracy, the suggestion that this was good archaeology only made it worse. I have visions of having to spend a great deal of time in my first year archaeology course correcting the misapprehensions this show will cause amongst the freshers. Sigh. I now know how forensic scientists must feel every time they watch CSI.

    But for all my whining about the show's inaccuracies and it's improbable-beyond-belief plot, I did find it a diverting hour of television. First episodes are frequently rough, and this one at least showed promise. Hopefully once they have an audience established the plots will settle-down and be less Dan Brown-esque, and I am willing to hang around until they do. Who knows, maybe I'll be inspired to wear lip-gloss on my next dig.moreless
  • Layers. It's all about layers.

    A very interesting beginning to what I hope will be an extremely good and creative TV series. A team of Archaeologists are called to the site of a small historic find of potentially profound importance only to discover a much, much larger secret that unwittingly thrusts them into the heart of a battle which has been raging for 2000 years. A religious zealot commanding sword wielding orphans, burning crosses and a miracle worker (?) make for an extremely powerful and though provoking conclusion.

    If this is a sign of things to come then BBC 1 are onto another winner. I shall wait with baited breath for the next episode.moreless
  • A group of archaeologists run foul of Christian fundamentalists when they uncover the "true cross".

    I had difficulty watching this to the end. Badly written, poor dialogue, lousy characterisation. A cardboard-cutout Christian fundamentalist and a bunch of boys in teeshirts waving broadswords try to recover the "true cross" from our heroic Indiana Jones / CSI / Time Team archaeologists. For some reason people seem fixated on the Knights Templar and this show pandered to that.

    The climax involved an implausible punch-up in a medieval dovecot and people catching on fire. By this point I didn't care enough about who was gettting killed off.

    It is *just* possible that this will become one of those "so bad it's funny" programmes. Awful!moreless
Julie Graham

Julie Graham

Professor Gillian Magwilde

Hugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville

Professor Gregory Parton

Adrian Lester

Adrian Lester

Dr Ben Ergha

Michael Maloney

Michael Maloney

Professor Daniel Mastiff

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Viv Davis

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions