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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Television Review: #Bosch Season 2

Amazon's evolving series is beautifully shot but hardly addictive.

Review by Matt Cummings

If Amazon's solid first offering of Bosch proved anything, it's that the sometimes worn-out cop genre still had more stories to tell. Expertly handled by Michael Connelly - who wrote the books and produced the series - it made instant fans with Amazon's gritty and ugly look at LA and its cops. Season 2 picks up right where the first left off, although the result is hardly addictive.

Returning six months after putting his boss through a plate glass window, Bosch (Titus Welliver) returns from suspension to dive headfirst into the murder of guy stuffed in his own trunk and dumped in the Hollywood Hills. The events lead Bosch and his partner Jerry Edgar (Jamie Hector) to the widow Veronica Allen, who doesn't seem surprised by the news. Apparently, Mr. Allen was a womanizer, a porn producer, and dealt in dirty mob money. But as Bosch and Edgar begin pulling on the thread, they uncover a twisting road of dirty cops and big payoffs, all somehow related to the mysterious Veronica. But there's also several side stories of note, including Lance Reddick's Deputy Chief Irvin Irving and his son George (Robbie Jones), Harry's attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife (Sarah Clarke), and a quickie about the death of Harry's mother 40 years ago.

Let's get one thing straight: Welliver IS Bosch, which Connelly and team brilliantly established so quickly in Season 1. He's such an enjoyable aspect here that Harry could be listening to jazz albums and chewing on script all day and we'd probably still watch. Welliver envelops the role, setting the series apart from the somewhat tired tropes of on-the-edge detectives, graying loyalties, and huge action set pieces. That's not to say they don't make the same mistakes as other shows, because there are several flaws that continue into S2; but those pale in comparison to how well the rest of the series excels.

First, Bosch is flawlessly shot. Patrick Cady and Joseph Gallagher make everything pretty and pretty ugly at the same time, bringing the real Los Angeles to our television sets with perfect suavity. But they also excel at making Bosch a part of the system, rather than featuring Welliver as some sort of untouchable super-cop who always gets his man. It's a bit more complicated than that, which leads to several memorable moments with our characters. And while this is as much about the titular detective, Season 2 is also about expanding - for better or worse - world of Chief Irving. The result is part heart-wrenching and all parts satisfying, as he navigates the tricky world of city politics and placing his son in the line of fire. Some of the best scenes involve bringing Irving and Bosch together: you know that something special could happen, and for the most part it does.

But there's also a bit of clunkiness to Season 2 in terms of script that keeps it from being an instant classic. Part of the problem revolves around the large number of cases that Bosch takes on, requiring some to drop off faster than they should to keep the bigger story going. Ryan's story arc doesn't end up being the biggest pull here, with the last episode not even focused on her. Her ending feels more like it ran out of steam than anything else, a fact that will either enthrall lovers of Connelly's slow-burn books or bore others to tears, neither of which is an accurate assessment. From Day 1, Bosch has been outstanding television in a landscape where recent mountain peaks have been too numerous to name (and watch). Had this premiered five years ago, we might have awarded it a ton of Emmys, but this type of drama excels at slow burn when so many others prefer the big pops of flashier dramas. That's not what Bosch is, taking even greater strides to slow things down before lightening the department's inbox in a flurry of episode 10 To-Do's.

I believe that Bosch will eventually become a beloved series. And why not: it has all the elements that make it memorable or at least admirable in its attempts. Whether audiences will consider that enough logic to label it essential or addictive television is another matter entirely, assuming of course that it gave a damn what you thought.

Bosch Season 2 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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