TCA: 'Bones' Season 7 Episode Count Could Increase, Fox Hopeful for Renewal

Bones Emily Deschael David Boreanaz Promo 2011
Brian Bowen Smith/FOX

The confusion over the episode count and order of Bones' current season continues, but Fox remains outwardly optimistic about long-term plans for the series.

Speaking to a scrum of reporters after his executive Q&A at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, Fox president of entertainment Kevin Reilly said that the current season's episode count could be bumped back up to the original 22 episode order -- where it stood before star Emily Deschanel's pregnancy ultimately reduced the order to just 17.

“We programmed 17, but we ordered 22 for the season,” said Reilly. "We ordered as many as they could produce with Emily, so if they can produce 22 when she comes back, that’s what we’ll make... We ordered, ultimately, it ended up being 17 because that was all she could do. But if she comes back, they may ultimately end up making 22.”

STORY: 'Bones' Showrunner Says Season 7 Episode Count and Schedule Still Up in the Air

Bones' order was originally cut to 13, but an additional 4 were confirmed when the timeline of Deschanel's maternity leave was cleared up. Still, those additional 4 don't officially have a place. EPs Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan said in November that they weren't certain when or where they might air -- or if they'd be a part of the season's arc.

"There are episodes that haven’t been programmed yet that will either move into next season if we go forward or play into the summer,” Reilly said.

And as for that next season, Reilly did seem hopeful, as he was during the 2011 summer press tour.  "We need to do a new deal with Bones for next season if we’re going to keep it going," said Reilly. "I’d like to keep it going.”

Sunday's Fox presentation marks the official launch of the Bones' spin-off, The Finder. The series, also created by Hart Hanson, premieres after Bones winter finale on Jan. 12.