I felt something stirring inside that had been absent for a long time. A small tug toward the darkness I one time knew so well.
I’ve made no secret of my admiration for the high quality mystery and detective programs that English studios have released over the years. Shows like A Touch of Frost, Wallander, Luther and Sherlock are some of the best shows of their genre. While there are excellent programs like The Shield and Person of Interest, most American programming seems to be stuck in the CSI rut for the last 15 years.
This is why Bosch is such a pleasant surprise. A relatively unheralded new show from new kid in town, Amazon Studios, released for their streaming service. In my opinion, Bosch is one of the best police procedural show to come out of the US in years.
The show roughly follows the chronology of the books by Michael Connelly, but moves the timeline up about 20 years. Instead of being a Vietnam veteran and a cop in the 1990s. Bosch is now a veteran of Desert Storm and Afghanistan and the show is set in 2014. An interesting tidbit from the books is that Bosch is the half-brother of lawyer Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer, also by Connelly). Now that would be a crossover if they could pull it off.
Harry Bosch is a very dark character with a strong neo-noir vibe. His mother was a prostitute who was murdered by a serial killer. He joined the military and served in the Army Special Forces, first in the 90s then re-upped after 9/11. He then joined the LAPD and serves as a Robbery Homicide detective. The character is famously difficult to work with and isn’t afraid to openly defy the rules if he thinks they are getting in the way of an arrest. He also has the strong sense of personal justice and honor that many famous characters of the genre possess.
Lead actor Titus Welliver does a good job of portraying this darkness, playing the character as an intense and suspicious loner with an intense, unsettling glare. You definitely get the feeling that he is a dangerous man.
Jamie Hector plays his partner, Detective Jerry Edgar, who is his polar opposite. Intelligent and relatively optimistic for a veteran police officer. He helps balance out Bosch’s more dangerous moods and helps keep him out of trouble with their superiors.
Another standout is veteran character actor Lance Reddick as Deputy Chief Irving, Bosch’s superior and sometimes antagonist. While Bosch is primarily interested in catching criminals, Irving also has the Mayor, city council and the public to answer to and must often balance their disparate requirements with the need to enforce the law. Naturally, this puts him on Bosch’s bad side repeatedly.
Unlike many American shows where the hero can defy the rules at will. This one shows the consequences of Bosch’s more spectacular violations of the LAPD’s rules. A major thread in the first few episodes involves him being sued after a confrontation with a suspect goes wrong.
Another difference from most American shows is that Bosch is shot on location, specifically Los Angeles, CA and makes the city a starring character. The combination of 21st century neon lit skyscrapers and dark, dangerous streets, gives the city a Blade Runner-esque look.
An essential element to the Bosch series of books is the author’s intimate knowledge of the area, from the Angel’s Flight cars, to the bluffs, to the cultural and social differences between LA, Hollywood and the many outlying areas. The camera work is spectacular and really brings the diverse city to life.The shows intro is a spectacular kaleidoscope view of images from LA streets.
The entire show is steeped in a neo-noir aesthetic. From the dark, conflicted characters to the grim night shots and the moody jazz soundtrack. Fans of the film noir genre will find a lot to like here.
One more note, the show is rated TV-MA and they mean it. Connelly’s books rarely shy away from the rough, realistic language of the streets and police, this show doesn’t either. The violence is about at the level of most of the CSI-ish shows. The themes of the show are very mature and not recommended for anyone under 18. The bad guys shown in this one are truly the worst of the worst. Vicious serial predators, rapists and child abusers are frequent opponents of Bosch and the LAPD.
Verdict 4 Gavels out of 5 An impressive show from Amazon’s new streaming service. Dark, gritty and fairly faithful to the source material. The show features impressive visuals, engaging characters and intelligent storylines. Fans of British detective series such as Luther or A Touch of Frost will love this one.