Harry Bosch, the Los Angeles cop who’s cranky and a lover of jazz (I wouldn’t rule out a correlation there), is back for a second season of 10 episodes on Amazon Prime, streaming starting Friday. Based on the bestselling novels by Michael Connelly, Bosch is a fine piece of TV work, one of the best examples of how to take what works on tightly-formatted network crime shows and supplement it with some of the looser freedoms of pay-cable crime series. Which makes sense, since the series was developed by producer-writer Eric Overmyer, who’s worked on two of the finest network and cable series — NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street and HBO’s The Wire.
Titus Welliver’s Bosch is back on the police force after a six-month forced leave. This time around, Bosch is investigating the murder of a prosperous pornographer, and the cast of characters includes the guy’s ex-wife, a former performer in hubby’s productions. She’s played by Jeri Ryan with the kind of world-weary cynicism that reminded me of Nina van Pallandt as Sterling Hayden’s similarly put-upon and betrayed spouse in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye.
The fact that such comparisons come to mind is a measure of how well Bosch is executed. The show proceeds at a deliberate pace, letting you feel the California sun baking down on the cops riding in cars as they discuss everything from case clues to cold coffee. Some viewers have found Bosch too slow-moving, but those of us who are keyed into its rhythms are rewarded by the show’s subtle twists and feints. Did the camera linger on that cop who just bad-mouthed Bosch because he’s up to no good, or simply to emphasize what a jerk he was? Why is the guy guarding the porn king’s security gate so curious about Bosch’s investigation? (The fact that the guard is also an ex-cop, and that he’s played by Brent Sexton, prominent in The Killing and Justified, suggests he may not be a bit player in this.)
Bosch has an interesting subplot this season involving the son of Lance Reddick’s Deputy Chief Irving — the young man, George (Robbie Jones), is working an undercover assignment with a thug played by James Ransone (aka, Ziggy from The Wire). Bosch is filled with intriguing characters (Jamie Hector is always excellent as Bosch’s detective partner Jerry Edgar) and good actors we don’t see often enough, such as Yancey Arias, the star of the underrated 2003 show Kingpin, as a devious mayor.
Ultimately, of course, the show rests on Harry Bosch’s shoulders, and Welliver plays him beautifully, managing to convey an array of thoughts and emotions behind what only appears to be the same stoic, deadpan expression. The actor knows he’s playing a type that’s been seen in hundreds of TV shows, movies, and novels — the jaded cop who follows his instincts even when it gets him in trouble with both criminals and his police superiors — but Welliver’s Bosch somehow seems like a fresh paradox: a pessimistic idealist, a principled man who’s always succumbing to the corrupting powers of an oppressive world. And occasionally getting the opportunity to punch some creep in the gut and make a deduction that brings a tiny bit of justice to his bright corner of L.A.
The second season of Bosch is streaming now on Amazon Prime.