Contains Spoilers for last night's Bonekickers
Ever since Life On Mars, one gets the impression that Ashley Pharaoh could pitch his shopping list to BBC executives and get given the green light for a six part series exploring the mysteries of supermarket trolleys and the fruit n’ veg aisle. That said, Bonekickers was all right I suppose (and certainly not as godawful as Gareth McLean made out in Tuesday’s Guardian), but it entirely depended on what you were looking for – if that happened to be a drama-lite romp thought seven hundred years of pseudo-history, you were in luck. If not – oh well, just sit back and marvel at the errant silliness.
Bonekickers did at least have a brain cell rattling round in its mostly empty head, if only for the realisation that a dramatised Time Team would have been like watching the live feed on Big Brother. A crazed, right wing Christian group wearing limited edition Templar t-shirts was wheeled out to do battle with a bunch of perplexed looking Muslims (fresh out of the story conference, no doubt), one of whom got his head cut off by Paul Nicholls (gotta take the work where you can get it these days I guess). A sub-plot too far methinks, as by the halfway point Bonekickers had forgotten about its brain cell and proceeded to stagger toward its deliriously daft finale. In fact, there was so much overt nonsense on show that an extra twenty or so minutes or so might have calmed things down somewhat, and allowed for some much needed tying up of loose ends.
With the recently announced Red Planet competition in mind, anyone looking for clues as to what a returning series looks like wouldn't have come away with anything useful from Bonekickers, save for the fact that the first episode was exceptionally plot heavy. The main characters were introduced via the tried and tested mechanism of a fresh faced newbie in their midst, but save for a perfunctory line or two, character development was not something that Bonekickers particularly interested itself in, as it spent a lot of its time bumping into convenient narrative signposts, such as an old geezer who was able to point the way to the one true cross (well, a warehouse full of them at least).
So: it was all right. But judging by this outing, at least shopping lists are coherent.