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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

He's the BOSCH

Article first published as He's the BOSCH on TheTVKing.

Do we need an other police procedural, even if it's couched in a character study of a tormented man? That's what Amazon is delivering to us in Bosch, one of their first two drama pilots, currently streaming free on their website. The titular detective is simultaneously on trial for the murder of an unarmed suspect, while still digging into fresh cases, against orders. Can he escape jail and find peace?

It's hard to argue that Titus Welliver (The Good Wife, Lost, Sons of Anarchy, Argo) doesn't deserve a leading role. He absolutely does, and he definitely handles the main part of Bosch well. He lets us see the hurt it causes him to know he killed someone, beneath the bravado he must maintain to sleep at night and continue to do his job. He's a good man who accidentally did a bad thing, with cause, and thus a likeable protagonist.

The problem is, we already have plenty of these. Shows from Luther to Elementary to Justified to House have already given us pretty much the same archetype. There are differences of course, but these tend to be only cosmetic, and what sets each apart tends to be the quality of the writing and the ensemble, rather than any real originality in storytelling.

Bosch does lean towards the higher end of the spectrum. Part of this is because of the dual narratives, the court case and the current investigation, balancing each other nicely. Another part is the enjoyable ensemble, which includes Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead), Lance Reddick (Fringe), Amy Aquino (Being Human), Annie Wersching (24), Alan Rosenberg (Cybill, Luck), Valerie Cruz (Off the Map), Abraham Benrubi (ER), Amy Price-Francis (King), and Jamie Hector (The Wire). It's a great group of performers.

Bosch is better than most of the other crime shows. The writing is smart, the acting is convincing, and the characters are well developed. These are adjectives I frequently use to describe good shows, and it applies here, too.

But because the market is inundated with this type of drama, though,, it's not necessary to make another. I don't know if Amazon hopes that by delivering something so familiar, we'll see it as a legitimate television content provider. What is more likely, though, at least for those of us that consume lots of TV, is we'll see it as lazy, yet another clone for an already crowded genre.

What would set Bosch apart from its peers? Well, letting Bosch leave the law enforcement profession behind would be good. Or seeing him actually go to jail, the story following him as his life changes, and then the fight to overcome that. I'd like to see Bosch himself do more than just stay in the structure he's accustomed to. But this seems quite unlikely, as it's a much more challenging type of show to tell. Or, at least they could make the setting somewhere other than L.A., which has been done to death.

Making a brand new crime show worth watching isn't impossible; HBO's True Detective has proven that. Bosch just isn't True Detective-caliber, even as it's a notch above anything on the broadcast networks.

Bosch's first episode is available now on Amazon.com

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