I’m a sucker for cop shows. My dad was a cop, so maybe it stems from that, who knows, but it doesn’t matter what the format, fictional or otherwise. I’ll watch it. Bosch seemed interesting. Though I have yet to see Transparent, I’ve heard nothing but good things from the Amazon series which made me assume Bosch would bemuch the same quality. And it is. Mostly. Kinda. I don’t feel as though my time was wasted in those ten episodes, if that helps. It just never rises above mediocre.
Bosch is a strange character.
First, not every cop show needs to center around an officer who’s a loner, reckless, insubordinate, plays by their own rules, and is, yet, miraculously, still respected. Even so, he is uneven to the point of continuity error, at once a breaker of department regulations and a stickler for them, loose with his morals when it fits the moment and not so when he’s calling out a fellow officer. The series opens with him on trial for shooting a suspect, a plot piece aimed (pun?) to underline Bosch’s affinity for going it alone in spite of his partner. And though acquitted, Bosch doesn’t learn from the incident, diving head-first into more dangerous situations, alone, without backup an episode later, all moments making Bosch less the lone wolf and more a man incapable of learning from his mistakes. Perhaps this is the point and we are asked to see the humanity in his shortcomings. I don’t know. For me, it just makes him stupid. Exacerbating this point, the narrative of the first season is more coincidence than good detective work. Our main antagonist is stumbled upon. A beat cop “has a gut feeling” and there we are. Body in the back of a van. This guy turns out to be a sloppy mastermind, a peculiar savant of serial killers who latches onto Bosch for no real reason other than they were both foster children. I suppose the crazies need little incentive to be crazy, but Bosch is a series of unconnected events which manage to come tenuously together, of which the killer is only one. The result is sloppy storytelling with the beats of the action results of chance and coincidence with little room for competent heroes. In both the characterization of its players and the whys of its narrative, Bosch cannot seem to elevate itself to a point beyond spontaneity.
Perhaps this explains why the bulk of the cast is so one dimensional. Bosch is fleshed out though, again, suffering from some split personality psychosis manifested by the writing. His Captain is a walking vessel for hate. Nothing more. Like the tire from Rubber. The Captain’s only purpose is to demand Bosch’s badge. Again. And again.
The Deputy Chief (played by Lance Reddick, forever a cop) is similarly uninteresting, spending the majority of his on screen time either behind a desk or on the other side of an unmarked black SUV’s window. It’s a little staggering to me the number of government officials in Los Angeles who are chauffeured around in unmarked black SUVs, and who hold meetings in them rolled down window to rolled down window. Bosch’s partner likes to look good. Has a tendency to run his mouth at suspects when he doesn’t like them, which is often. Most of the other officers are background noise. In the same way I disliked Order of the Phoenix for cramming 900 pages into a feature film, Bosch feels equivalently without meat, all bones and no substance even after nearly ten hours. I can’t help but feel the show would have benefited greatly from another three episodes, if only to give rest once on the details.
But I said it’s decent. It is. There are moments of interest when Bosch’s guard is lowered and he moves out of stereotype, most often when his daughter is around. Too, the show has these vignettes of only a minute or two with characters grabbing coffee, pulling into a strip mall, sitting down at a meeting, mundane moments all which add a curious spark of life into the sometimes gray. Brief flashes of living. They are unspectacular in almost every way and yet not. For me it’s the authenticity they lend. A certain glimpse behind the scenes where we’re shown not everything is cops and melodrama. These are perfect touches and needed distractions.
The acting is good. No one ever feels out of place or under-performed. Though Bosch as a character has his shortcomings, Titus Welliver isn’t one of them. He’s great in the role. Fully believable. Jamie Hector is the only person I have trouble with, and I can’t tell if that’s more me than him, as I have difficulty placing him as anyone other than Marlo Stanfield. He smiles more, but his delivery between the two is quite close.
Recommended if you like cop shows. Recommended if you’re not put off by circumstance.