Finally, we’re here – the final episode of Bonekickers, and what a monumental slog it’s been. Six ungodly hours of bizarre dialogue, blindingly obvious plot developments and Sega Saturn-level CG.
In fact, so predictable are Bonekickers‘ events that I felt confident enough to compile a list of the final episode’s occurrences before I’d watched it – and here they are:
1. This week’s Macguffin will, of course, be Excalibur.
2. The college’s Head of Archaeology, Professor Mastiff, will turn out to be the ultimate villain in a cover-up that extends back to Arthurian times.
3.Gillian and Ben will rekindle their relationship while the actors display no on-screen chemistry whatsoever.
4.This being the final episode, the writers will throw in two or three grizzly deaths.
5. ‘Dolly’ Parton will be seen drinking copious amounts of alcohol and will make a few gruff remarks about Viv’s breasts.
6. Gillian will be revealed as a descendent of Guinevere or something ridiculous like that.
7. Viv, (who is, as it turns out, Gillian’s half-sister), will die tragically.
8. The show will end without a ‘coming soon’ teaser for the next series. If the BBC actually commission a second run I’ll eat my laptop.
It turns out that I’m not quite the Nostradamus I thought I was; the Macguffin was indeed Excalibur, and I did get the bodycount right (there were three), and one of them was somewhat grizzly (Press Gang’s Dexter Fletcher was nibbled to death by rats).
Those guesses aside, my other predictions were wide of the mark – Bonekickers’ parting episode was even worse than I’d imagined. As Gillian Magwilde follows her breadcrumb trail of clues to the location of Excalibur, it’s revealed that there’s a secret society of masked assassins (called, catchily, ‘The Disciples of Good Use’) after it too, and what starts as a typical Bonekickers episode soon degenerates into The Tennyson Code as all the characters begin quoting poetry at each other.
Eventually, after much poetry reciting, arguing and badly choreographed fights straight out of The Avengers, Excalibur is finally recovered from its hiding place in a pond outside Wells cathedral. In a scene that must rank as the worst ever to appear in a BBC drama, Gillian surfaces sword-first in dramatic slow motion. This being Bonekickers, it’s only a matter of minutes that this priceless relic is destroyed and its fragments tossed back into the murky waters, leaving several questions unanswered: Where did Gillian get that scuba diving gear at such short notice? If Excalibur was indeed made from some sort of special extraterrestrial metal, why did it break so easily? Why did the chap in the mask dissolve when he threw himself in the pond?
All mystifying stuff, and it’s not clear whether Bonekickers will be returning for another series to answer all these questions – as I predicted, the show did indeed end without mention of a second outing, and perhaps this is a good thing. Gregory ‘Dolly’ Parton can have a chance to recover from his alcohol problem, Gillian and Ben can resume their weird, passionless relationship and – most importantly – England’s ancient artifacts will be safe from the clumsiest band of archaeologists in history.