Season 1 Episode 5

The Lines Of War

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Aug 05, 2008 on BBC

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  • The penultimate snarky recap of the series. Usual rules apply; it's a recap rather than a critical review and I use nicknames instead of real character names.

    This week's episode of Bonekickers has a very special guest star - Burn Gorman from Torchwood, or as I like to call him Doctor Chimp-For-A-Face.

    We open with a monk running across a field, the caption text witters on about a hypermarket while I try and remember a Stella Artois advert that featured a running monk. While I consider whether the Stella monk exists or is a figment of my scattered memory, the monk on the TV (not the one in my imagination) hands over a bundle of bones to a nun. She gasps! Gasp!

    The flashback then jumps forward to World War One as a collection of British soldiers huddle in a tiny ditch in the snow. Amongst the soldiers is none other than Burn Gorman, himself!

    The flashback continues into the present day (minus a week or two I guess) where some French construction workers are in a field in Bristol – oh sorry, it's France. Honest. Anyway the JCB hits something metallic in the ground and there, buried 12 inches below the soil, is something…

    Oooh, I hope it's something man was not meant to know. That would be way more interesting than Burn Gorman's charred skeleton.

    Roll credits – explosions! Dirt! Skull! Tents! Truly this is the archeological experience distilled into an opening title sequence!

    So the team are rolling through the British, sorry, that's French, countryside in their mystery mobile, which is only a couple of steps away from Torchwood's SUV really. Maybe they could borrow it from the Torchwood team but to make it look more 'Bonekickersy' they could smear dirt on it and replace the flashing lights with flashing skulls and spades? The team finally arrives at the digsite and Dolly is carrying his own booze as he continues to impersonate Detective Jack Force from the Armstrong and Miller show.

    Man With No Gimmick recognises the almost fully buried tank as being a prototype within two seconds of looking at it. What? How the hell does he know that? If it was a secret prototype (which we later find out it was) how does MWG know about it? Does he have a military past or is it just lazy writing? You be the judge. Gruff Detective dismisses MWG's knowledge as something every red-blooded male would know. Of course, because knowledge of WWI era tanks is something all men are equipped with from an early age.

    Dolly decides to open the tank and have a look inside. He almost gets blown up by a booby trap but sadly it has long since deactivated. Hilariously, his anti-bomb outfit consists of a hard hat and a sheet of corrugated aluminium worn over his chest. The team find six skeletons inside and everyone gets all weepy and reverent as the show hammers home the point that the First World War was a BAD THING and that it happened not too long ago. Dolly uses his best dramatic/ominous voice which undermines the whole scene. The French diplomat appears and Gruff Detective is all bolshy until the diplomat tells Gruff he has summoned the Germans! Dun, dun, dunnnn! The show resists the urge to use the music that accompanied the Nazis whenever they entered a scene in the Indiana Jones films. At this point I have to mention the very shaky accents used by the diplomat and Rival Gruff German Detective. The accents seem to be in place for the character's first appearances then other, more English, accents seem to override their speech. Still, I don't watch this show for any kind of accuracy; I watch it for the extreme archeology! Get digging, monkeys!

    The arrival of the foreigners is the cue for casual racism as none of the nationalities can get along. Ho, ho. Whatever you do, don't mention the war! Gruff Detective stonewalls the Rival Gruff German Detective (RGGD from now on) while the team examines the skeletons. The team does what they do best and leap to all kinds of conclusions on very little evidence. They are sure that the skeletons are British and were killed by some evil German rotters. They start throwing terms like 'war crime' around and get very excited. Unfortunately they ruin their own theory when they discover that three of the skeletons are in fact German.

    Then someone kills a dog.


    A bit later someone steals all the skeletons. Coincidentally a man from the MOD turns up. I'm sure he has nothing to do with it. Really.

    Rookie does some research and discovers that Major Chimp-For-A-Face was the commander of a tank in WWI and was teamed up with a military reporter/captain who went on to survive the war. Albeit as a nutter. But still, he survived and wrote poetry that Rookie decides to read out aloud when people have run out of things to say. She could talk about the weather or football rather than bringing everyone down with poetry. Sheesh.

    So, we have another EVIL CONSPIRACY (time to knock back a shot if you're playing the Bonekickers drinking game!) that doesn't want the world to know about the tank and its occupants. Why? Because they found Joan of Arc's skeleton. That's why. It sounds stupid, but really it… well, yeah it is stupid. Here the stunning plan is told to we the audience via flashback – as usual the Bonekickers just guess the entire series of events based on minimal evidence. The British and German soldiers are part of a sacred order who have located Joan of Arc's remains to a small chapel in France (POSSIBLY EVIL CONSPIRACY). They plan to end the war by recovering Joan's remains and presenting them to the French and German peoples as a symbol of unity against the British. What? The saint's bones will cause the French to surrender to the Germans and end the war. Hurrah!

    The military reporter isn't too enamored with this plan and reasons that this will leave the German army free to focus on Great Britain. He decides to execute the Germans on the spot and bury them in the tank (what's wrong with just burying them in a trench?). Whilst his comrades are putting the German corpses in the tank, he shoots them too (even Major Chimp-For-A-Face) and buries the tank. The reporter goes back to Blighty and goes mad with the guilt.

    In the present, the team (apart from Dolly, he's doing something unspeakable to a young student girl in the guise of research) discover Joan of Arc's resting place and the man from the MOD appears to stop them. Then it goes a bit Blair Witch as he tells them all to face the wall as he waves a gun at them.

    Is this curtains for Rookie, MWG and Gruff Detective? Sadly, no. They stand facing the wall for a bit and then gingerly turn around and realise the man from the MOD has stolen Joan's remains (how he does this without making a sound and without using a bag is not entirely clear). At least this EVIL CONSPIRACY was relatively nice and didn't kill them. So having failed to recover the famous treasure of the week (yet again) the team head home.

    Then we get the meta plot bit. Yes, Gruff Detective visits her mad mum and finds none other than Rookie there already. "Yes Gruff Detective, I…am…your…half-sister! Or something, sorry I'm being a bit vague, I could be a cousin for all you know. Or I could be making it all up. But I know you don't need proof because you rely on imagination." Rookie is a genius because she doesn't explicitly say she's related, she relies on hints and leaves Gruff's imagination to do the rest. Evil genius.

    Still, didn't see that coming. Next week – Excalibur mofos! That's what archeology is all about – finding swords! Oh, and EVIL CONSPIRACIES of course, there's bound to be one of those.