A Googler Googling “Jack Hodgins” would reasonably expect dozens of returns for web pages about the accomplished novelist and retired Department of Writing professor. Not so fast. Inching closer in web search popularity is the fictional “Dr. Jack Hodgins,” a supporting character in Fox Television’s procedural crime drama, Bones.
The connection is via Hart Hanson, the show’s creator and executive producer. A former Victoria resident (he spent a year at UVic), Hanson met Hodgins at a reading in Toronto in 1980. It was the beginning of a best friendship. “I had a copy of Spit Delaney’s Island, very battered, and asked Jack to sign it,” Hanson says from his studio offices in Los Angeles. “I think the Cowichan sweater clued him in that I was from his part of the country.”
For Hodgins, whose novels and short stories hold a mirror to the lives and ways of Vancouver Islanders, sharing names with a fictional character is an ironic, amusing experience: “I suppose you could say it serves me right.”
But it has also offered an inside look at the “magician’s world” of network television production. Hodgins has visited the soundstage, talked shop with the “building full of writers” who work on the show, and met TJ Thyne, the 32-year-old actor who plays his namesake.
In a discussion with the novelist Gail Anderson, BFA ’99, on her web site, Hodgins recalled the way the clerk at a Victoria hardware store, after handing him back his Visa card, asked whether he knew about the TV character with the same name. “After I’d explained the situation, she almost fainted when I told her I’d met the actor and that he was a great guy.”
Hanson’s TV work has also included the 1990s Canadian series Traders as well as US network shows like Judging Amy. Adding touches of Canadiana to his scripts is his way of “waving to Canadians.”
As for any similarities between the real and fictional Hodgins, Hanson says there are fewer than he first imagined but some traits remain. “My intention was to hijack a number of Jack’s characteristics for the part—purely for the joy of ragging on my old friend,” says Hanson. “However, once you have an actor, the character changes. I do think that sometimes I (write) things Jack would like to say but is too gentlemanly to utter.”
Bones is based on the work of forensic anthropologist and best-selling novelist Kathy Reichs. It airs on Tuesday nights and enjoys a combined US and Canadian audience of about 14 million viewers—most of whom probably don’t realize they’re getting a weekly dose of mildly subversive Can-con.
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