Just how extraordinarily bad is each and every episode of Bonekickers? Attempting to relate this is like trying to find six entertaining ways to describe the colour beige. This week’s offering was as nonsensical as ever – something to do with an ancient future-predicting vase – and featured the usual grab bag of bizarre accents (Iraqi ones in this case) and am dram acting.
Episode four added some dodgy CG work to the mix – ‘The Cradle of Civilization’ featured graphics that could have been rendered on an Atari ST circa 1989. If you were taken aback by the Captain Pugwash rope swinging from the debut episode, just wait ’till you see the risible killer snakes lurking here – it’s clear the BBC’s effects department spared every expense. And did you know that a snake’s vision is like a 3D movie sans the coloured specs? Educational stuff.
It’s also rather strange that poor old Gregory ‘Dolly’ Parton – easily the most interesting character in the whole show – is being given less to do in every episode. Could it be the spectre of political correctness that prevented the writers from making him the central character?
Like Gene Hunt in Life on Mars, Parton’s a mildly sexist, gravelly voiced alpha male with a fondness for alcohol, and like Hunt, plays second fiddle to other characters far less interesting than himself. We’re expected to care about the non-existent sexual tension between Ben and grumpy Gillian and their tedious banter, when all we really want to hear is ‘Dolly’ Parton mumbling drunkenly about etruscan pottery (or, more likely, Vivian’s breasts) as he knocks back another can of Special Brew.
We’re also meant to be somehow intrigued by what Adrian Lester rather optimistically described as a ‘big underlying mystery that goes through the whole six-episode series.’ Of course, the legendary sword that’s unfailingly referred to in every episode might not be Excalibur – it could be Connor McCleod’s out of Highlander, I suppose. Or He-Man’s.
Still, there was plenty of clunky dialogue to enjoy. Here are a few highlights:
‘Archaeology. One part digging around in the dirt to ten parts bookkeeping. Are we having fun yet?’
‘One brick is how every city in the world begins…’
‘What’s that? Sounds like gas escaping!’
With its unfailingly awful script, 3D snake POV shots, dreadful CG and a particularly ropey sequence that appeared to use a gravel pit in Ipswich as a stand in for Iraq, this was vintage Bonekickers – in other words, complete and utter rubbish.