The Best Cop on TV is Back
The police procedural series seems to be about as old as the television. Can you remember a time when there wasn't a cop show on TV? With what seems like an endless parade of NCIS, Law and Order, and CSI, hapless viewers have been left wondering when they might see a new trick from an old dog.
Well, the wait is over.
The Best at What He Does
There is no better crime drama on TV today than Amazon's Bosch. Based on the bestselling novels by Michael Connelly, Amazon is happily rewarding it's faithful Prime members with a crime drama that defies convention. Bosch works against the network formula that dictates a strictly episodic approach to the police procedure show. According to the formula, every episode represents a fresh case which our police hero must resolve with an arrest within approximately forty-four minutes (allowing time for commercials). While networks continue to remain faithful to a tired and outdated model, many cable and streaming services have challenged tradition. Instead of accepting the episodic approach, programs such as FX's Fargo and Justified take advantage of an entire season to play out a longer story arc. Our heroes are no longer under the artificial constraints of a three quarters of hour mystery clock.
While Bosch is not the first TV detective to adopt the modern season model, he's the best at it. His season long journey is not towards solving a single goal or a catching a solitary criminal. There are multiple cases going on simultaneously that provide our detective the added (and more realistic) challenge of splitting his focus. Even an obsessed investigator like Bosch has to find a way to work all of his cases and manage station house drama as well (politics, corruption, romance, etc.). This balance is the secret ingredient that makes the show work. I don't know how you could draw it out or scientifically explain it. It's more of an art. And one that Connelly, J.J. Gerber (producer) and Grant Lau (creative director) and others deserve a good deal of credit.
A Treasure Trove of Rich Story Material
For more than twenty-five years, Connelly has been writing Harry Bosch novels. Instead of being unnecessarily concerned with remaining "faithful" to Connelly's writing, the series takes needed creative liberties. Beyond some important character and background updates, the most significant of these liberties in the blending of storylines. Each season so far has been a blending of multiple novels: season one contained a mix of the plots from City of Bones, Echo Park, and Concrete Blonde while season two is based largely on Trunk Music with portions of The Drop and The Last Coyote in there. Mixing these plots into one coherent and new narrative take a fine hand (or steady pen) and writing team on the show are earning their paychecks.
Slow Burn Noir
Viewers who have been happily conditioned to the quick fix crime cases will likely become frustrated with Bosch. Like the jazz he adores, his season is a slow burn that invites the audience to become engrossed in his world — in his L.A. The city of angels has never been home to so many devils as it is for Detective Harry Bosch. Battling the demons of his own past, never before has a fictional detective had quite as big a chip on his shoulder has Bosch carries. He's the brilliant kid in the back of the classroom who doesn't wear the right clothes, doesn't say the right things, and doesn't come from the right home. Yet in the end you know it's his tenacity, his edge that will slice through the fog of mystery and bring some semblance of justice for the dead. Even when no one else cares anymore, Bosch can't leave it alone. The dead haunt him nearly as much as the living.
Having just launched their second season on Amazon, Titus Welliver has yet to receive the credit he deserves for his portrayal of the title character. By this point, he's become so absorbed in the role it's hard to imagine Harry Bosch looks, walks, or talks any other way than how Welliver has portrayed him. For better or for worse, the 54-year old veteran of film and television has finally found his defining role. It seems likely at the end of his road, Welliver will be remembered as Bosch in the iconic way audiences remember William Shatner as Captain Kirk or Lee Majors as the Bionic Man. For a guy with nearly 100 acting credits on his resume and a career spanning twenty-five years, that says a lot. But for Welliver, Bosch feels like his signature part and a role he was born to play.
This show should be required viewer for any fan of crime drama. Even if you're not an Amazon Prime member, it's worth testing this one with the 30-day free trial. And for those looking for new series to binge, there's twenty episodes total over two seasons that you can digest in about twenty hours. That's the kind of marathon I know I'm already in shape for.
Bosch Season 2 is rated TV-MA and now available on Amazon Prime.