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Bosch—Why the Time is Ripe for Harry

an amazon studios original

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Summary: Streaming detective show Bosch, based on the long-running (17 and counting) popular series by author, Michael Connelly, doesn’t stray far from the literary franchise. Bosch novels: Concrete Blonde, City of Bones and The Black Echo were core to the construction of Season 1. The series’ al dente tag line foretells what’s in store: Every Murder Tells the Tale of a City.

You like straight forward police drama with your order of detective noir? This Bosch is for you.

The pilot focuses on a questionable police shooting, which places Bosch (Titus Welliver) and his job in jeopardy; with an ensuing court trial. Episode two plunges us into the season’s thru-mystery: A hiker (Scott Wilson) and his dog find a bone on a hillside.

A TVolution Quick Take: It’s not crime solving all of the time in the big city. Look for plenty of personal drama from exes to new loves and ongoing complications to add to the tension in Bosch’s life even as he becomes deeply embroiled in a fox and hound game with a very clever serial killer.

Bosch, Season 1 gets a Warm to Hot stamp of approval.

Scott Wilson, Titus Welliver-Bosch - Amazon Studios

Scott Wilson with Titus Welliver examines his findings. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

Full Disclosure: I have read all—or very nearly—of the Bosch books. Also a fan of his other works (the Lincoln Lawyerseries, Jack McEvoy books, and one offs), I’ve heard him speak at more than one book forum or festival. As a consequence, I’ve developed a fondness for the author as a person on top of his writing ability. There is an authenticity to his writing and the characters he creates that is inherent in the man. Don’t know him personally; perhaps those close to him might read my impressions and shake their heads… but I doubt it.

Why hasn’t Harry Bosch, as a long running, popular literary character, made it to the big screen? That… was the main question I heard asked, more than once, at those Connelly Q&As.

His answer always circled around to the same thing: He appreciates Hollywood and what they do, but he’s also seen how they often take a literary character and tweak it so much nothing of the original remains by the time it makes it to the theatres. The Bosch character meant too much to him to let Hollywood mess around with.

Connelly recently revealed, however, that Paramount studios purchased the rights to the character of Harry Bosch in 1995. (Ah so, Grasshopper. Now it’s all making sense.) The character, and any subsequent scripts, got held up in development limbo and the author had to wait it out. The rights reverted back to him in 2010.

The television landscape had, by that time, changed a great deal… And the change was all to the good. Television was on a roll with the most incredible serialized drama being produced. This had been some time in coming: starting as far back as the early ‘80s with any Bochco, Kozell, Tinker or Milch production, segueing into David E. Kelley shows. By the time Homicide: Life on the Streets, X-Files, ER, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, West Wing and the like came along, all on commercial stations, a staple of quality programming, though rare, was becoming increasingly available for those with a discerning palate for original, adult drama.

Jason Geddrick guest stars in 'Bosch' (Amazon Studios)

Jason Geddrick guest stars as Raynard Waits (photo Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

Producers and shower runners were now being given the time and, moreover, the creative latitude once afforded to, only, feature film-makers. They no longer had to churn out 36 episodes for a season. Cable gets a major pat on the back for slingshoting the industry into this current phenomenon. Taking a chapter from the Brits playbook, who often call three to six episodes a complete season for a show, the cable companies began turning in 12 episodes a go round. Even that number is being played with these days.

The outcome of time and creative constraint freedoms is what has blessed viewers with, dare I say, a crop glut. Forcing “discerning” TV enthusiasts to parcel what’s produced with even more circumspection. Given the multitude of options even one hour committed to a specific program should be one well spent.

So how does Bosch stack up with this current crop? Moreover, does the series stay true to the heart of the book? Another concern is, for folks familiar with the subject matter, will the City of the Angels be given proper treatment on screen?

Eric Overmyer has spearheaded much of the top tier drama produced: (The Wire, Treme…). In developing Bosch for Amazon Studios he keeps to an Overmyer signature. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistle moves, graphics or special effects. It feels like nuts and bolts filmmaking; a kind of scarcity in the production trappings, resulting in an on screen living environment that is elegant in its simplicity.

Directors of Photography Patrick Cady and Paul M. Sommers, (of recent, Sundance’s Rectify), are equally responsible with their what-you-see-is-what-you-get cinematic approach.

Connelly is, as author of the original source material, also given props for having fathered this fully fleshed out world. His influence is reflected in the mood, music and urban environment.

Here are his thoughts on Titus Welliver, who landed the titular role:

“I’ve watched a lot of scenes this week with Harry Bosch and his partner Jerry Edgar. Played by Titus Welliver and Jamie Hector, I’m beginning to see the interplay between these two characters that is so vital in the books. They both are great and I can’t say enough about Titus. As Harry Bosch, he’s got to carry the biggest burden and he does it well. More so than me now, he’s the keeper of Harry Bosch and I’m not worried in the least.” (bosch-tv)

And if you’re wondering how the series Harry differs from the literary creation, here’s more from Connelly:

“In season 1, we have taken plot lines from three different books and entwined them – one last for four episodes, one for eight episodes and one for all ten. Along the way we reveal Harry Bosch’s past, his ex-wife and his daughter. I think we reveal and show everything that made Harry Bosch the man he is.”

For more of Connelly’s thoughts and on set experiences check out his official website.

(UPDATE: SPECIAL NOTE) Not only is Bosch returning to our screens for a season 2, but Welliver’s Bosch was recently voted No. 23 on an Esquire magazine’s countdown list: the toughest guys to debut on television since the year 2000.

Author Michael Connelly - Photo, Mark DeLong

Author Michael Connelly – Photo, Mark DeLong

What: Bosch, an Amazon Studios release: (Amazon Studios, Fabrik Entertainment and Hieronymus Pictures Production)

Created by: Michael Connelly Writer (Creator)

Eric Overmyer Writer, Developed For Television

Main Title Design: Grant Lau, J.J. Gerber, J. Michael Radtke, Rod Basham (Imaginary Forces) Nominated for Primetime Emmy (2015)

When: Pilot – aired January 2015

Season 1 available for streaming now

Returning for a Season 2 in 2016

Season 1 Cast:
Titus Welliver
Jamie Hector
Amy Aquino
Lance Reddick
Anne Wersching
Deji LaRay
Gregory Scott Cummins
Troy Evans
Scott Klace
Mark Derwin
Madison Lintz
Sarah Clarke
Steven Culp
Alan Rosenberg

Guest Cast:

Mimi Rodgers
Scott Wilson
Jason Gedrick
Veronica Cartwright

(We want to hear from you. Nominate your best of dramatic series from 1980 to 2005. Leave a comment here or email us at:  thetvolution@gmail.com.)

 Click HERE for great insights from Welliver and Connelly about this show and more.

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Written by

TVolution Founder and Managing Editor DARWYN CARSON completed a six-year stint as Managing Editor of Leonard Maltin’s Annual Movie Guide in 2015. She has been covering film since her early association with entertainment journalist Michael Symanski at Zap2It.com. She also covered film and restaurant news in her column Carson’s Corner for a variety of social publications. Her articles have appeared on Zap2It, Indiewire, leonardmaltin.com and, of course, The TVolution. Follow Darwyn @bnoirlikeme. Follow The TVolution @thetvolution. Please Like The TVolution on Facebook.

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