Fresh from last week’s disastrous debut episode, Gillian Magwire’s team of Bonekickers return to uncover another piece of buried history. This week, a manacled skeleton shows up in the mud of the Bristol channel, and the archaeologists find themselves embroiled in another historical conspiracy, this time involving runaway slaves from eighteenth century America. It soon becomes apparent that sinister forces are at work, with mysterious deaths, Whitehouse involvement (often a sign of foul play), and Magwire suffering from some very strange hallucinations…
It’s all utter hokum of course, but sadly this sophomore effort doesn’t maintain the manic pace or sheer goggle-eyed dreadfulness of the first episode. There’s a breadcrumb trail of clues, underground caverns, and some cheesy character names (an American senator called Simon Joy? Priceless!), but things are far more competently handled this week, which is a terrible disappointment.
Still, there is some fun to be had: a scene clearly shot on a foggy field in Essex is meant to stand in for a park in Washington; Gorman (William Hope) from Aliens makes an unexpected appearance; Hugh Bonneville’s character Gregory ‘Dolly’ Parton continues to channel the spirit of Inspector Morse, sinking pints and shouting gruffly about bones.
Even so, things seem oddly toned down from the first frenzied outing. There’s nothing to match last week’s cave full of burning crosses, for example, or the continuity errors, or the rope-swinging CG that looked like something out of Captain Pugwash. Even the gore is toned down from last time – instead of a rubbery decapitation we get an almost bloodless throat cutting.
I can only hope that episode three will be a return to the first’s appalling form; after a promising start, Bonekickers is drifting into the realm of mere mediocrity – and the BBC have plenty of shows like that on their books already. If Bonekickers continues to improve, it’ll just be forgettable rubbish, like Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. It takes real genius to create something as terrible as Bonekickers‘ first instalment.
‘Come on,’ a character implores, ‘there are people to inspire!’ Sadly, this episode didn’t.