Amid the wasteland of free-to-air TV, it is often hard to find anything worth watching. I try to mention in this blog anything that I come across which is worth a second look.
Showing on SBS TV on Wednesday nights is a cops-and-robbers show that is a cut above the usual. Called "Bosch", and produced by Amazon Studios, it is about the adventures of Harry Bosch, a detective in the LAPD. Harry Bosch is the creation of American crime writer Michael Connelly, who has written a string of novels starring Harry and who is an executive producer on this series. It's usually a good sign when the author is involved with the TV version of their books. I have read several Harry Bosch novels; I am actually not a great reader of crime fiction, but the Harry Bosch books are good. "Bosch" is is now in its second season. So far, it's much better than the first season.
In some respects, we've seen it all before: in season one, Harry was taciturn, had a tortured past, had perennially bad relations with his superiors who were always threatening to suspend/sack/refer him to Internal Affairs, had a private life that was in turmoil, is loyal to his cop partner – and is formidably good at what he does. Clint Eastwood did a lot of this 40-odd years ago in the "Dirty Harry" movies.
Harry Bosch is played by Titus Welliver, known to Australian audiences for his role in "The Good Wife" TV series. As played by Welliver, Bosch, in season one, was a darker, more tortured personality than Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan, though in season two he is much more confident in himself. Harry Bosch also has more complicated personal baggage than Harry Callahan; Bosch has an ex-wife and a teenage daughter. In season one, they were minor players in the story. In season two, they are much more front and centre, and Harry's relations with them are explored in much greater detail.
The series is set mainly in Los Angeles. In the books, LA is portrayed in rather dark, sinister terms; there always seems to be a brooding menace waiting to gobble up Bosch and his associates. Bosch, though, is street-smart; he almost seems to thrive on the sleaze and danger that surround him in the urban jungle. This take on the LA atmosphere has transferred well to the TV version of Connelly's stories.
I must confess I didn't finish watching the first season of "Bosch". After a very promising start, it then settled into traditional "will he catch the serial killer in time?" territory which bores me ad nauseam. Generally, I don't watch serial killer shows. However, the first season, and the character of Harry Bosch, showed enough potential that I thought I'd give it a second chance when season two showed up. Am I glad I did! The new season's story is streets ahead of the last one. It is gripping.
Harry is faced with several cases at once. A small-time pornographer is found murdered. He has ties to The Mob. An FBI counter-terrorism operation crosses Harry's path, with links to the pornographer's murder. When Harry starts getting too close, both The Mob and the FBI get pissed off with him. While all this is going on, the policeman-son of Harry's boss on the Force is also murdered when he (the son) tries to go undercover to get the goods on a ring of corrupt cops. The corrupt cops are in with The Mob and Harry suspects the two murders are linked to the same criminal conspiracy. Harry's ex-wife is involved; she knew the pornographer and is playing a bizarre "double agent" game between her ex-husband and the FBI ...
The acting is good, the various storylines really grab your attention, LA as a dark urban jungle is a character in its own right, as is the deceptively welcoming, but evil, desert charm of Las Vegas, where some of the story takes place. The photography is great, the story moves along at a smart clip, and the editing is crisp and spot-on. With half-a-dozen episodes already shown, this series is really, really good. Catch up with it on digital download, or wait for the boxed DVD set.
Oh, by the way, it's got the coolest opening theme music of any current show on TV.