Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bosch: an iconic cop shines onscreen

Bosch (television series, Amazon Prime, 2015)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

I was a little hesitant about seeing Harry Bosch brought to screen (so many adaptations of great fiction characters disappoint), as Michael Connelly has created a truly terrific series of crime novels.

However, once I started watching this series on its release back in February, I ended up binge-watching the entire thing in one go. And then I rewatched several episodes with a friend who hadn't yet seen it. It is really wonderful. Languid, gorgeous, with all the political and personal conflict, layers, texture, and subtext you could want.

Titus Welliver is remarkable as Hieronymous "Harry" Bosch - a really tricky role as it's such an iconic crime fiction character, beloved by millions, and Harry Bosch is also a very internal, dogged character rather than showy or visual. This makes him a tougher transfer to the 'sight and sound' world of screen storytelling than all-action heroes like Jack Reacher. Despite these challenges though, Welliver, as with many other cast members, shines in the quieter moments, delivering so much story through glances, pauses, and timing. The writers and crew let the cast do their thing, not trying to pack the screentime with never-ending witty dialogue and non-stop action, instead using the gaps to add layers of subtext to an engrossing tale.

The series wonderfully weaves together three different Michael Connelly books (THE CONCRETE BLONDE, CITY OF BONES, and ECHO PARK) that mark different periods of the on-the-page character's long career, updates the timeline to the modern-day (via some very good choices by the producers and writers about how to do this), and extracts great performances from a terrific cast of top quality character actors.

Beautiful cinematography, a real 'film' feel to this TV show, brings LA to life as a character in what is a gripping and absorbing drama. Bosch is a somewhat different style to many crime dramas, more slow-paced with more silences, allowing things to 'breathe' rather than using quick cuts. Almost reminiscent of stories like Chinatown. This could throw some viewers who are more used to seeing stories told in other ways, but it's never that nothing is going on - there is a lot going on, but it's in the small things (and you have to pay attention, or you might miss lots of wee hints and character touches).

Overall, I was incredibly pleased with Bosch. I was concerned going into it, that my high standards for the character and Connelly's stories would make it hard to love or even like a screen adaptation. But I'm completely sold on what the creators of Bosch are doing. Yes, there are changes from the books, but to me it doesn't diminish the stories told. Magnificent. Deserving of Emmy consideration, whether it gets it or not. I'm very much looking forward to more seasons, as the cast and crew have created something really special.

Bosch is available to watch on Amazon Prime, and will in future be screened on Sky TV in New Zealand. 

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