Thursday, August 5, 2021

Bosch, Season 7


(I held this post back to allow those who care time to see Season 7 of Bosch. Spoilers abound.)


The Beloved Spouse™ and I watched Bosch’s final season on its first weekend of availability. We’ve had mixed emotions about the past few seasons, as the stories are always compelling, the storytelling less so. Season 7 took this to the point where we’re just as glad it’s not coming back even though there’s a lot to like.


What’s to like? As I said, the stories. Using Michael Connelly’s stories and universe as the jumping-off point was inspired. They’re the kinds of stories that hook you right away, and deft handling of the procedural matters is a huge separator from more mainstream television and movies.


The casting is outstanding, and the acting is solid, within a caveat I’ll describe below. It is now impossible to read a Bosch book without seeing Titus Welliver in the role. Amy Aquino was excellent as Lt. Billets. My sole complaint about Gregory Scott Cummins and Troy Evans as Crate and Barrel is that they’re not used enough.


The production values are outstanding. This was among the first of Amazon’s streaming series and has serves as the flagship ever since. The care taken and attention to detail is obvious in each episode.


So why am I ready for it to be over?


While the stories are compelling, the storytelling is not. I understand about getting in as late as possible and getting out as early as is practical, but Season 7 suffers from Attentio Deficit Disorder, moving from scene to scene so quickly it’s hard to keep track of what happened, or to remember it when it becomes important later. One scene stands out. Bosch gets a phone call, the caller asks how he’s doing, he says he’s fine, and that’s it. The scene reminded us Harry is dating a judge, which will matter in another episode or two, but it goes by so quickly, and in such an uninteresting manner, The Beloved Spouse™ and I both looked at each other and asked So what? The relationship between Bosch and the judge was shown, briefly, in a previous episode. Nothing worth mentioning passed between them, the scene easily forgotten.  


Plot exists so scenes have a point; scenes are where the entertainment and storytelling take place. Season 7 plays like a mash-up of Law & Order and The Wire. The problem is, the side stories are not particularly compelling and are sometimes extraneous.  Chief Irving’s premature baby is at best a distraction, at worst a waste of time. The scenes with Maddie and her boyfriend are necessary only because a member of Bosch’s family is in mortal peril. (Again.) With only eight episodes, each well under an hour, fewer story lines with more attention paid to each would have been a better choice.


The dialog is turgid, at best. Too many characters pontificate, and too often one character describes something the listener clearly already knows for the benefit of the audience. That’s lazy writing. Fewer, longer scenes with real interaction between characters would be welcome.


The pregnant pauses don’t help. It’s almost like someone held a stopwatch and directed the actors leave at least three seconds between lines to allow time for meaningful facial expressions. The end result is a sequence of flat deliveries and disruption of chemistry.


Then there’s the ending. After disrupting a major federal investigation that gets their confidential informant killed, Bosch gives the chief a (literal) fuck you; shortly after, Bosch hands in his badge. The chief then makes a half-assed attempt to talk Harry out of it. My police friends may correct me, but I have to believe Harry wouldn’t have a chance to resign; the first words out of Irving’s mouth would either be “You’re fired” or “Where don’t you want to go” so he can bury Bosch just as Bill Rawls buried Jimmy McNulty in The Wire. I also kept waiting for some fed to remind Harry that Sammy Gravano got passes for nineteen homicides to get him to flip on John Gotti. They’re not going to tolerate some local cop ruining an investigation intended to take down at least one major drug organization, no matter how much that cop believes everyone matters or no one matters.


What bothers me more than anything about the end of Bosch is how it symbolizes the failure of streaming services to live up to the hype for their original programming. Shows like Bosch and Goliath showed great early promise, but what’s come after is mainly things too edgy or overtly sexual or graphically violent or had too much foul language for the broadcast networks. I have no problem with overt sexuality and graphic violence; regular readers know I’m all fucking for foul language. Having all of the above doesn’t make a show good. How do we get what we get and no one has created a streaming vehicle for Tim Hallinan’s Junior Bender or Brad Parks’s Carter Ross or Reed Farrel Coleman’s Moe Prager is beyond me. (Editor’s Note: This is far from a complete list.)

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