Here’s what this Amazon Prime original series has done to me.
The first few episodes of the first season made me a fan of the show. Okay, I was already a Harry Bosch fan after reading the first five or six novels written by Michael Connelly, who is also an executive producer on this series. At some point, however, I stopped being a dutiful reader of the Bosch novels, probably because Connelly has been so prolific, publishing books at a steady pace. Call it the John Grisham/Stephen King/Dean Koontz Effect.
What I mean is, I became a fan of Titus Welliver as Bosch. Also, a fan of nearly all of the actors on this show, including Jamie Hector as J. Edgar, Amy Aquino as Lt. Grace Billets and Lance Riddick as Chief Irvin Irving. I could continue to list the names and characters of the entire cast. The show is really that good.
The strength of the series itself inspired me to pick up another Harry Bosch novel—City of Bones—after years away from the series. The feeling I get from the streaming series, and the novel, is akin to meeting an old friend after many years and picking up our relationship as if we’d never been apart.
Season 4 is largely based on the events of the Connelly novel Angels Flight. Enough years have passed since I read this novel that nothing was really spoiled for me. The murder of civil rights attorney Howard Elias would have provided enough substance to keep me interested in the story. But, the show adds layers of side plots and subplots that probably weren’t in the novel, and we get to spend time with characters who aren’t Harry Bosch.
One such sideplot is Bosch’s continuing investigation into the cold case murder of his mother. It ties into the Elias investigation rather neatly. Another involves Bosch’s ex-wife Eleanor Wish (Sarah Clarke), a former FBI agent and current professional poker player. Eleanor is trying to get back into the FBI, and runs into some trouble as she’s gathering intel on Chinese nationals during a high-stakes poker game. Maddie Bosch—Harry and Eleanor’s daughter—becomes more of a main series character after what happens happens. I’m not going to spoil everything for you.
The finale of the season is satisfying, taking place in largely secret underground tunnels. This is more impactful if you are familiar with Bosch’s literary past as a “tunnel rat” in the Vietnam War. Yes, I know the Amazon version of Bosch is a product of later wars. He had to be retconned, just a little, because Welliver is too young to have served in Vietnam. By the time the season ends, Bosch has solved the murders of Howard Elias and his mother, as well as uncovering a ton of corruption in the police force and, almost tangentially, in the FBI.
Season 5 is largely about the current opioid crisis in the US, and the central storyline involves Harry Bosch going undercover as an addict. As with every season, the other main cast each get their individual story threads, which helps to smooth out the hard edges of any second-act stagnation. Harry’s daughter Maddie also steps up in a more main character role.
This was probably my least favorite season up to this point. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. But, I think having a good portion of the season’s action taking place somewhere other than Los Angeles somehow detracted from the rest of the storylines. The conclusion of the opioid storyline was exciting and brutal, though, and mostly made up for the season’s minor faults.
Season 6 continues the ambitious trend, moving beyond the original gameplan that featured a subplot of Bosch trying to solve his mother’s murder. We get it. Bosch is a modern-day crusader whose personal history motivates him to get justice for others, if not always for himself. Now, we’re heading into broader themes that would be at home in a Tom Clancy thriller or a television series such as 24.
The ensemble nature of the series is best exemplified by this season. We get stories about the theft of radioactive isotopes, homegrown terrorism in the form of a separatist movement (a diverse movement, not just white people this time around), sexual harassment in the workplace (Lt. Billets’s arc), political chicanery with Irvin Irving (Lance Riddick), police corruption and conflict with the FBI. When you add personal drama and sideplots to the mix, there’s just a lot going on. This is one of the strengths of Bosch, however. It is impossible to become bored with so much going on.
I didn’t even mention the age-in-the-workplace sideplot with detectives Crate and Barrel (Gregory Scott Cummins and Troy Evans), or Maddie Bosch’s experiences interning for defense attorney Honey Chandler (Mimi Rogers), or J. Edgar’s (Jamie Hector) personal pursuit of justice involving a Haitian crime lord. Meanwhile, Harry Bosch is compelled to solve the cold case murder of the daughter of Daisy Clayton, an opioid addict he met during Season 5.
Like I said, a lot going on.
If you’re even a casual fan of detective procedurals or mystery fiction, you’ll find plenty to like in this series. I won’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. This is good television.
Firewater’s You-Won’t-See-Me-Coming-Count-on-It Report Card: A
This was an easy A. The worst of Bosch is still better than most of what else is out there.