Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz in "The Final Chapter: The...

Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz in "The Final Chapter: The End in the End" the series finale episode of "Bones" airing Tuesday on Fox. Credit: FOX / Patrick McElhenney


WHEN|WHERE Series finale Tuesday at 9:01 p.m. on Fox/5


WHAT IT’S ABOUT As the series finale begins, vengeful killer Mark Kovac (Gerard Celasco) has bombed the Jefferson Institute labs with Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) and Jack Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) still inside. Did they survive? Sorry: You’ll have to watch “The Final Chapter: The End in the End,” to find out.

MY SAY “Bones” may be a good excuse not to pay much attention to TV critics. Case in point: The guy who wrote the original “Bones” review for Newsday on Sept. 13, 2005, dismissed the whole thing as a bubbleheaded retread stuffed with a lot of skeletons and hooey. But after 12 seasons and 246 episodes, who’s full of hooey now? “Bones” stands as the second-longest-running drama in Fox history, outdistanced only by “Beverly Hills 90210” (293 episodes).

Brushing aside critics — or one of ’em anyway — “Bones” survived the 2008 writers’ strike, outlasted rival TV procedurals, dodged a schedule-eating monster named “American Idol,” and withstood the upheaval of the digital revolution. Fox kicked it around prime time like a soccer ball, from Tuesdays to Wednesdays, Thursdays, Mondays, even Fridays for a few months. But still viewers followed. They didn’t merely love this show, they devoured it, bones and all.

But why?

That foolish Newsday critic (no need to name him but you may be reading him at the moment) was wrong but not entirely. As a TV enterprise, “Bones” fairly screamed “formula.” The murder-a-week, the forensics babble, the sexual tension between the leads . . . Been done, been done, been done to death.

But formulas are only formulas. What counts are the particulars, and “Bones” had those right, including the most essential. Boreanaz and Deschanel had genuine chemistry, as did the other half of the original core four (Conlin, Thyne). I’d argue that the first six seasons were best, the last six a bit more of an unfocused ratings chase. (A crossover with “Sleepy Hollow?” Really?) The zip in that Booth/Brennan chemistry seemed to get zapped after the first baby arrived in 2011. Both already seemed like an old married couple by the time they finally tied the knot in 2013.

Based on Kathy Reichs’ string of best-sellers, the TV show was crafted by a good-natured veteran named Hart Hanson who knew exactly how to disarm the been-there/done-that rap. In a word, homage: Even the title itself was a broad wink and nod to the greatest “Bones” of them all, “Star Trek’s” Dr. McCoy. “I’m a doctor, not a mechanic/engineer/magician/coal miner,” McCoy always fussily reminded someone. “I’m a forensic anthropologist, not a doctor/mother/wife/cop/FBI agent,” Brennan often fussily reminded someone, too.

Wink wink, nod, nod.

“Star Trek” was in the bones of “Bones.” The heart versus the head. Science versus faith. Logic versus feelings. Spock vs Kirk. At times you could almost have imagined Booth saying to Brennan, are you out of your Vulcan mind?

The cases may have been gruesome, the serial killers prolific (a total of six), and the formula relentless but the moral of this long tale was mostly gentle. Humans aren’t just bones, but flesh, blood, feelings, and soul.

BOTTOM LINE Twelve and out — with a bang, a chase, some memories and some hugs.

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