The Best Show You’re Not Watching

The best comedy you’re not watching returns for its third and final (shortened) season on Thursday, March 16.

Review stars Andy Daly as Forrest MacNeil, a critic who reviews life situations on a 1-to-5 star basis. In Seasons 1 and 2, his commitment to this project destroys his life. If you haven’t watched the first two seasons, Forrest’s wife Susanne (played by Jessica St. Clair from Playing House) recaps it all perfectly in this Final Season promo trailer.

Let’s see if Forrest can turn it all around in Season 3 (by the looks of it, that’s gonna be a no. . .1 star).

Review final season starts on Thursday, March 16 at 10 p.m. EST on Comedy Central.

Fleabag

Amazon’s Fleabag offers an amusing look at one woman’s struggle with grief

Amazon’s Fleabag is the best new comedy that you’re not watching. Hell, it might be the best new comedy that you’ve never even heard of. While the streaming network houses one of the most critically lauded comedies in Transparent, other Amazon shows fly very discreetly under the radar. Catastrophe has received acclaim, but only one Emmy nomination thus far, for example. Fleabag‘s dark humor is enough to bring people in, but if you dig into this short first season, you will find a complicated examination of one woman’s personal struggle with grief.

One of the things you’ll notice about Fleabag is how much its lead, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, speaks directly to the camera. Her character’s name is never uttered, but she shares the name of the series. Constantly talking to the audience is a device that grows tiresome in most shows (looking at you, early years of Sex and the City!), but you realize that you are not an audience she’s trying to impress or titillate. We, as an audience, are her friend. Fleabag winks at us while she flirts with guys on the bus, giggles at the comments she makes about her sister, and even comments mid-thrust on the sex she’s having.

The show is described as a young woman navigating her life through London, and that generalization might not interest the casual viewer. Waller-Bridge’s interactions with every single character is reason enough to watch Fleabag. While her hook up scenes are hilarious, the best back and forth is between her and Olivia Colman who plays her godmother. Colman’s grand artist invaded the family soon after Fleabag’s mother died and she married into the family. Fleabag now feels like a visitor in the home she grew up in, and Colman’s sugary sweet smile is present almost every moment on screen. How did her face not hurt after filming her scenes? No disrespect to Imelda Staunton, but she makes a real case that she should have played Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter franchise.

fleabag
(Photo: Amazon)

While Fleabag is painfully and awkwardly funny at times, there is a sadness to it that permeates through the final two episodes. Our central character is flailing–her and her devoted (and too nice) boyfriend have recently broken up, her sister is up for a promotion in another country, and her business is floundering. She runs a guinea pig themed cafe, but after her business partner (and best friend) accidentally kills herself, she quite literally spends most of her workdays in an empty space with animal pictures plastered all over the walls. Any more about the plot would give too much away, so we will leave it at that.

At the glorious center is Waller-Bridge, a fiercely smart comedic talent. Adapting Fleabag from her own one-woman show, she is able to imbue her character with a lovable ease and charming bite. She’s the type of friend you’d like to have at a party when you don’t know anyone, but you’d subconsciously be watching how many drinks she downs. Fleabag has a tendency to wreak some havoc, but any observer might be taken back by her quick wit and dark delivery.

Fleabag‘s first season is only six episodes, but it has a totally packaged feel to it. If it didn’t continue with a second season, it would still be a well-done exploration of a young woman’s scrappy quest to find what makes her happy. Watch this show. Be a fleabag.

Catastrophe

Catastrophe intriguingly continues the saga of Rob and Sharon several years into their growing family

Imagine that every comedy on television was as honest and funny as Amazon’s Catastrophe. The streaming show flew under the radar last year, but received stellar reviews for its first six episodes. The only complaint that I have after watching the first two episodes of the second season is that each season is too short. Creators and stars Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney have some of the most effortless chemistry on any comedy currently airing. One might write off Catastrophe as a television version of Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, but the second season delves into something more adult and serious without abandoning its sharp comedic tone.

When we last left Rob and Sharon, her water broke after the beginning of a vicious fight. Instead of picking up immediately in a hospital room or extending the birthing sequence, the second season opens a few years later when Rob and Sharon have their second child. Now living in a house with two children, a dog, and Rob’s mother (whose departure isn’t clear), our sarcastic couple is definitely feeling the pangs of parenthood and trying to keep everything together.

When a friend comments about Sharon’s new situation, she replies, “Yeah, it’s what I’ve always wanted. Apparently.”

There is a noticeable darkness around the beginning of Catastrophe‘s second season, but that’s a part of being an adult after abandoning your single life. Sharon is beginning to feel a post-natal depression while Rob is stuck in a job he hates to support his family. It appears that Sharon’s father is beginning to show signs of dementia. There’s even a death in the first episode. Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not all doom and gloom. The writing had me laughing out loud in the first two episodes.

Sharon and Rob remind me of the type of couple who fit perfectly together, but if they were apart people might stare at them because of the things that they say. Horgan and Delaney flow between flirtation, anger, and sweetness in a relaxed and loving way. When these two fight, they hurl insults at each other to hurt, and some of the barbs actually sting. If they need to stand by each other, however, it’s very sweet (the end of the second episode is great).

Amazon has a slew of streaming shows, but Catastrophe doesn’t seem to garner the same amount of attention as any Netflix counterpart. It’s is an example of a show that you’re not watching. It may only be six episodes, but it is one of the only shows out there that I would immediately watch all over again.

Catastrophe season two streams on Amazon Prime beginning April 8.

If you’re not watching JLo’s Shades of Blue, you need to rectify that immediately.

Jennifer Lopez is getting all serious for her latest role in the NBC cop drama Shades of Blue. Gone are the long honey blonde streaked hair and the Versace gowns. Replacing them is true grit. Lopez plays NYPD Detective Harlee Santos, a single mother who works in a circle of shady cops. Leading the circle is Lt. Matt Wozniak played by Ray Liotta. Together with Lopez and Drea De Mateo, these NYPD cops cash in when it comes to bribes.

When she’s nabbed by the FBI in an anti-corruption sting, Santos is forced to choose between her loyalty to her “family” and doing the right thing for her daughter by staying alive. The final episode of season one airs Thursday, March 31, on NBC at 10pm. Here are seven reasons why you should binge watch Shades of Blue right now.

1.  Jennifer Lopez…

Jennifer Lopez, Latina in a lead role. Jennifer Lopez, Executive Producer. Jennifer Lopez, NYPD Detective. She kicks butt in this role and takes no prisoners. This is Lopez’s best dramatic performance since Out of Sight.

… and, more importantly, Jennifer Lopez’s hair.

This is the Jennifer Lopez we know with the glam hair…

fox

Lopez chopped off her flowing locks to get serious for this role. It’s messy. It’s single mom. It’s short. Paired with those pant suits, it needs a side note of its own.

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2. Ray Liotta is the shit!

Liotta has played bad guys. He’s played tough cops. In Shades of Blue, Liotta gives new definition to the word “shady.” His stares are so intense that you would never want to cross him.  But what more do we need to say? Liotta’s presence alone guarantees twists, intensity, and very dark moments.

Shades of Blue - Season 1

 

3. The Return of Drea De Matteo

Drea De Mateo is back on TV! If you were a fan of The Sopranos, then you need to be tuning in. Drea De Matteo gives Adriana La Cerva a run for her tough money. In one scene, she literally beats the crap out of another woman for cheating on her husband. De Matteo shines in the ensemble along with the rest of the cast, and we need to see more of her in season two. Drea De Matteo is fierce, and she’s back!

Shades Of Blue - Season 1

 

4. The tunes.

You won’t hear JLo sing in this show, but you will hear music by SIA, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. That’s just the first episode.

 

5. Warren Kole

Warren Kole plays Robert Stahl, the FBI Agent who nabs Harlee Santos. Stahl wants to bring down Wozniak, and each week his character sets Twitter alight with fans reacting like this:

Stahl is someone you love to hate. Yet Stahl and Harlee have such intense chemistry that it’s hard not to ship them. Like every couple you want to hook up, you’ll experience feelings like this:

Harlee and Stahl also have scenes like this:

 

Did we mention that Warren Kole is hot?

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6. The script.

You also have delectable lines like these:

“I always wanted to be a good cop. There’s no straight line to that.”

“Predictable defect of human nature: money almost always trumps pride.”

“Let go. Let go so I don’t have to kill you twice.”

“That loser is not her boyfriend. That’s a lapse in judgement.”

 

7. And that ensemble cast!

The supporting cast all deliver fantastic performances. Dayo Okeniyi, Michael Esper, and Lolita Davidovich all are worthy of reasons why you need to be watching, providing excellent back up to the main stars.

Shades of Blue is fierce, fantastic, and quite the ride. It leaves you breathless with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping “I never saw that coming” moments. It’s the perfectly gritty cop show.

The season one finale for Shades of Blue airs this Thursday 10pm on NBC.

Schitt's Creek

Eugene and Dan Levy’s Schitt’s Creek is even funnier in its second season

Pop’s (look it up) Schitt’s Creek was always the kind of show that immediately said “cult hit” when it first aired here in the United States early last year. The “fish out of water” story offered up as many if not more laughs than its American cousins, but you had to work to find the jokes. Some jokes were absurdist delights. Some joke hit a few minutes later, making you think “Did I just hear that?” As such, Schitt’s Creek season one was something of a minor comic masterpiece, one that you missed when it went away.

Absence, in this case, has clearly made my heart grow fonder. I couldn’t be happier to have the series back for another season. A more confident and focused tone makes the season two return even better. Schitt’s Creek is most assuredly the best show you’re not watching right now.

Season two picks up where we left off with the Rose family in turmoil. Having lost their fortune at the start of season one and relocated to the only thing they had left – the comatose town of Schitt’s Creek – they reluctantly tried to make the best of their circumstances. Eventually, though, the pressure of being dirt poor wore them down, and son David (Dan Levy) fled Schitt’s Creek in mayor Roland Schitt’s (Chris Elliot, say the name out loud please) beat-up pickup. At the start of season two, the family is in disarray, partially worried about David’s absence. Eh, maybe less than partially…

Moira Rose (Catherine O’Hara) spends most of the premiere fraught with worry – not over David’s absence but of the disappearance of a handbag.

“It’s an heirloom. My great grandmother took it from her husband when she left him, and it has been passed down through all the women in my family as emergency currency in case we need to leave our husbands in the middle of the night,” says Moira. “I love that bag — I’ve kept it safe all these years, and now it’s out there, frightened and alone.”

It’s a great comic moment made even funnier by the genius vocal affectations O’Hara applies in the role.

Daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy), having assumed the family was leaving town, slept with local stud Mutt Schitt (Tim Rozon) while accidentally becoming engaged to nice-guy vet Ted (Dustin Milligan). Her attempts at rectifying the situation over the first few season two episodes provide much more comedy than Alexis was given in season one. Especially when Murphy is given such brilliant throw-away moments as her frequent references to abduction at the hands of a Saudi prince. Murphy really embraces absurdist comedy in season two. It makes the entire enterprise stronger for it.

With Eugene Levy left as the straight man (which says a lot about the remainder of the cast), Schitt’s Creek has grown tremendously in sitcom brilliance. There is no laugh track to guide you. Sometimes, you can’t even tell the difference between honest sentiment and ruthless puns. I’m not even sure there is a difference between the two, honestly. What makes season two so fantastic is the doubling-down on the central comedy of the Rose family. Season one seemed to try to broaden the comedy to the supporting cast. That was fine, but the show is stronger with a renewed focus directly on the main cast.

Episode two confirms the heightened comedy with an inspired episode centering around Moira and David’s attempt to make enchiladas. Like most great comedy, it’s best seen and not explained. It also puts the focus on the series’ greatest assets – Dan Levy and Catherine O’Hara – while smartly using Annie Murphy and Eugene Levy’s strengths to play against the central pair.

Schitt’s Creek is the definition of a great cult comedy. And it is most assuredly the best show you’re not watching. Rectify that immediately.

Schitt’s Creek airs Wednesdays on Pop TV at 8pm ET. A marathon of the entire first season is planned for Wednesday, March 16, leading up to the season two premiere. Check local listings.
Schitt's Creek
Dan Levy and Catherine O’Hara star in ‘Schitt’s Creek.’ Photo courtesy of Pop.

Schitt's Creek

Episode 67: We take a look at the end of ABC’s American Crime and the beginning of Pop’s Schitt’s Creek

On today’s Water Cooler Podcast, the Cooler gang takes a look at the season finale of ABC’s anthology series American Crime. We were all thrilled with the season premiere and subsequent episodes. Does the finale continue that trend? Does it go the way of Fargo with a dump of a finale? Also, we take a look at one of the best television shows you’ve likely never heard of: Pop’s Schitt’s Creek. Starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, this “fish out of water” Canadian import is comedy gold. Season two kicks off Wednesday, and the Cooler gang give you a preview of what to expect.

That and a little television potpourri fill this week’s episode. Be sure to look out for our Flashback episode to the cult hit Party Down. We’ll be discussing that series in detail plus the legacy it leaves behind.

Thanks, as always, for being the best listeners. You guys rock!

2:33 – TV Potpurri
12:02 – Schitt’s Creek
22:03 – American Crime
54:34 – Flash Forward

Man Seeking Woman

Both FXX’s Man Seeking Woman and the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend deal with mental illness. But one does it better.

Early on in the pilot of CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) is shown dumping her prescriptions down the sink of her West Covina house with a smug smile on her face. I remember watching this moment with hope the show would explore more character complexity like this and not be reduced to a one-note musical.

Instead, after watching more than half a dozen episodes, I discovered the show to be the overly-attached-girlfriend meme come to life.

fxx man seeking woman

While the show does make great strides when it comes to diversity (Filipino love interests, bisexuality), the show does little for the “crazy” behind its female lead. It’s mostly hard-to-watch episodes of Rebecca humiliating herself, supporting a stereotype without much depth (although Clarence lauded her “You Stupid Bitch” scene as a watershed moment).

Just around the time I bought my ticket out of West Covina and Rebecca Bloom’s story,  I started watching FXX’s Man Seeking Woman. Starring Jay Baruchel, Eric Andre, and the fantastic Britt Lower, MSW follows your run-of-the-mill dating and 20-something Millennial storylines, but through funny goggles. For example, in the first episode of the series, Josh’s sister Liz sets him up with a troll. For real. What I love about this show is that despite its highly absurd moments, it feels like a more accurate depiction of modern dating and, compared to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, mental illness.

Granted, none of the characters in MSW claim to be crazy or suffer from anxiety or depression, but so much of the show feels like it’s shot through that lense. When you have anxiety, everything feels heightened as do-or-die. You immediately think the worst, and each week holds a Soup-Du-Jour worry of the moment. That’s a little bit like MSW. Each week is a new episode with a new, outlandish, ultimately insane situation. In the past, Josh has been surgically conjoined to a girlfriend, been bullied to couple up, and attended a wedding, literally, in hell.

fxx man seeking woman

In February 10’s MSW episode titled “Honey,” Josh discovers that his office crush is dating none other than Jesus Christ himself (played affably by Fred Armisen). Non-anxious people would feel pretty crappy about their crush seeing someone else, but through ultra-uptight spectacles, the stakes are even higher. Your crush isn’t just dating a great guy, she’s dating the best great guy of all time. In this case, there’s no way Josh can match Christ (on the reverse, one of his exes also dated Hitler, who he, too, could never live up to).

While it’s doubtful creator Simon Rich designed this show as a spot-on, comedic representation of mental illness, I suspect that he based it on another idea: That dating can make people nutty, and with 50 percent of the population being single, that makes most people fit to be medicated.

Superstore

NBC’s Superstore has breakout potential and is one of the best comedies you’re probably not watching.

We’re currently in an era where good comedies are growing increasingly scarce, especially on network television. Most people are scared to become invested in new shows because of networks’ (especially NBC’s) readiness to cancel new shows. Because of this I am apprehensive to fall in love with new shows, but I gave Superstore a chance anyways. I am so glad I did. I easily binged the 11-episode first season in two nights. By the end I was hooked.

My love was gradual because the pilot is a little misleading. At first the audience is presented with two “normal” leads to relate to in Amy (America Ferrera) and Jonah (Ben Feldman). The only problem is that means as an audience we are supposed to put them and ourselves above the eccentric coworkers and customers in a similar way that some revel in scrolling through “People of Walmart.” After the pilot, there’s a shift, and they are continuously put in situations where they come across as daft as everybody else.

In one episode where the floor team is in the middle of a sales competition, Jonah unknowingly convinces Amy’s husband to spend hundreds of dollars on a grill set for his YouTube channel. Amy’s most memorable episode follows her as she fights against a stereotypical and problematic salsa sales campaign only to be the face of the campaign at the end. This plot line of a character with strong morals being put in a compromising and dumbfounding situation is very reminiscent of what would happen to Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation. I hope the writers challenge themselves to push the show in this direction throughout season two.

Photo from the episode "Secret Shopper"

The standout performance is Lauren Ash as the assistant store manager Dina. Every workplace comedy has a character like her, the abrasive misfit with an abundance of quirky hobbies. Dina’s quirky hobby is her family flock of birds at home that she is constantly referencing or singing lullabies to over the answering machine. Dina is very assured in who she is and the rules she enforces. I wasn’t surprised to discover that Ash is an alumna of Second City which only helped me appreciate her performance even more. As a performer, Ash has a way of delving deep into uncomfortable, squirmy moments but not letting the audience dwell on them. Her standout moments are her interactions with shoppers whether she’s accusing elderly women of being secret shoppers or accusing Natasha Legerro of being a shop lifter. If any breakout comedy performance deserves an Emmy nomination it’s without a doubt Lauren Ash. It’s unlikely but deserved.

As the season progressed, the ensemble became more integral, dramatically improving the show. My personal favorite character is Sandra (Kaliko Kauahi) as the timid employee who hardly speaks above a whisper and cringes at high-fives. My favorite scene of the season includes Sandra attempting to open up about her self-esteem issues only to be repeatedly shutdown by Dina. Some of the ensemble takes a while to warm up to like Glenn, Bo, and Mateo, but as the season progresses so does the ensemble. The writers understood the characters more as the season went on and put them in the right situations. The teaming up of conservative Glenn a Mateo to create a gay section in the wedding department is one such perfect situation. Looking back throughout the season, I grew an appreciation for every character, even Bo’s socially conscious white rapper.

Photo from the episode "Wedding Day Sale"

Superstore isn’t perfect, and several critics have even described it as safe. While the beginning of the season does feel that way, I would argue a lot of critics are dismissing the show simply because it’s on the sinking ship of NBC. I would urge anyone who loved any of NBC’s golden workplace comedies (The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec) to give Superstore a chance. No, it doesn’t feel as edgy as those shows did when they first premiered. Yet, in a post Modern Family world where network television is over-saturated with family comedies, Superstore feels fresh. Even when the writers are constricted by being on network television, they find ways to push boundaries (as with the salsa story line).

I’m excited for season two when it returns in the fall, and I hope more and more people discover it on-demand throughout the spring and summer.
 

“Dramedy” is a term thrown around a lot when it comes to television, especially when it comes to deciding whether emotionally versatile shows like Orange is the New Black, Transparent, and Jane the Virgin are one or the other. The fact of the matter is that today’s TV isn’t as black and white as it used to be when it comes to comedy versus drama.

In the past, TV comedies had to roll out “A Very Special Episode” in order to do something more dramatic, but now, they tend to weave in powerful moments more seamlessly, and an excellent example of this is on FXX’s You’re the Worst.

The ironic thing is that FXX is a network that’s supposed to be geared toward comedy, a run-off of the FX franchise and their ever-increasingly-crowded lineup. And yet YTW is doing (and has been doing even last season) some really emotionally advanced plotlines, despite being a show that’s supposed to—and does!—make you laugh.

The first example is Edgar, played affably by Desmin Borges. Edgar is a young veteran who’s dealing with PTSD, which sounds like something you’d see on Emmy’s former Best Drama winner Homeland. In Season Two, he deals with his anxiety and insomnia by enrolling in an improv group, which actually can be a form of therapy.

Edgar is the absolute heart of the show, and strangely enough, the most optimistic of the four main characters despite having gone through so much. Borges plays Edgar as a wide-eyed little boy at points, an interesting take on post-war life considering that most soldiers played out on TV and movies are jaded and angry.

Edgar’s counterpart (and crush) is Lindsay, played brilliantly by Kether Donohue. While Donohue is mostly known for her voice-over work, she’s a physical force to be reckoned with on YTW, stealing every scene she’s in. Lindsay is a young divorcee, whose learning how to live life on her own for the very first time. She’s like Bambi walking across ice, but with wing sauce all over her face.

She’s needy, superficial, but you can’t help rooting for her. In the most recent Sunday Funday Halloween-themed episode, Lindsay’s run-in with a character in a haunted house inspires her to take control of her life. The final scene of the episode, with Lindsay returning to her own haunted house with a determined look on her face, makes this character more than just a supporting player with a one-note joke. Lindsay might be considered a classic stereotype of a Millennial, but she has depth.

In addition to these plotlines, You’re the Worst also has been tackling mental illness this season, with Gretchen (Aya Cash) revealing to Jimmy (Chris Geere) that she’s clinically depressed and that there’s nothing he can do about it but accept it and try not to fix her. This is quite the departure from 20 years ago when sitcoms would wrap-up “very special” storylines by the end of the episode, with the disturbance never to be heard of again.

It’s great to see that characters in comedies don’t have to be flat anymore, that they can deal with real-life problems just like their dramatic counterparts. There’s no confusion over whether YTW is a comedy, so if Emmy voters are watching, they should definitely know where to put Edgar and Lindsay on their ballot next year.

I’m going to openly predict that the creators of Bosch (the American detective series, not the German manufacturers of power tools) were fans of Michael Mann’s sweeping and architectural crime story-telling. The detective’s first night frolicking with a police officer is right out of Heat as McCauley begins to be tamed by Eady. Even the framing of the night lit city through huge open glass windows and soft ambient music. There’s also a whiff of Lt. Hanna in the character of Bosch – not to mention Mann’s earlier Manhunter, Will Graham took comfort in pondering alone as his unique detective brain clicks into gear. And let’s not forget the beat-driven title sequence that almost screams Miami Vice. Not a bad first impression at all.

There is a distinct noir feel here too. Night time blackness and various building and vehicle lighting. Sitting in the dark, two detectives cracking short sentences with croaky voices. They seem both deflated and driven by their place on the justice-seeking map. Especially Harry Bosch, our protagonist played by Titus Welliver. We soon discover he was a military man, now tightly entangled in detective work while keeping his personal life at arm’s length. Who wants a young, well-rounded, hot-shot rookie anyway?

There’s a moment following the opening, plot-thrusting shooting, where a look from Bosch – a realization in the rain – shows the immediate toll of taking a life. Even in the moment, and though we’ve seen criminals shot a thousand times on TV and film, we acknowledge this is a huge deal. He has been in trouble before: “How many people have you killed?” he is later asked in court as flippantly as inquiring about what he had for breakfast. It’s a refreshingly satisfying angle for the homicide detective to be the focus of a killing, and an investigation against Bosch ensues.

Rather than settle for the shitty end of the stick, which is to prepare for his court case, Bosch assigns himself like glue to investigate the site of a human bone. He has his haters in the force. He’s a loner, not quite renegade, refusing to crawl up anyone’s ass – but an intriguing presence. The Hollywood Division of the LAPD here seem to be a little unorthodox and cock-sure, so Bosch should fit right in. He has his supporters in some quarters too, including his lieutenant who still rides him a little, and those that have worked with him and know his dedication never stop him sniffing around.

What ultimately shines a torch on his human side is the chemistry that immediately prevails between him and the female officer. His inability to detach from the job though soon pushes her away somewhat. Family-wise too, as Bosch steers towards making up lost time with his own teenage daughter he just can’t pull himself away long enough from his police work to put in the family hours.

Bosch takes the lead with the buried body case. It soon links to a man, Waits, who is brought in and arrested – one male adult body and the DNA of several others found in his van. One scene is reminiscent of the movie Se7en, as the crook tries to antagonize the detective while driving to secret location. Touches like these are handily utilized here, and bring us closer to the familiar thriller genre we all love. It also turns out to be a cock-and-bull story, that goes extremely tits-up, a detective is wounded, and Waits makes his escape. I saw that coming a mile off – why didn’t the LAPD?

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The show thankfully wastes little time dragging the action or over-embracing the main plots strands. Even after a couple of surprisingly premature confessions, the dead body case is pretty much nailed midway through, if not quite wrapped up. And with those unresolved elements of the case comes further fall-out, including a paradoxical decision by Bosch that favors the potential progress of the case and police ethics over the support of his new woman. In this business you get by without rules, whereas integrity and honesty only damage relations it seems. The drama juggles all social, criminal, personal activity nicely, not allowing a shred of tediousness.

There are some truly painful to watch moments too, prolonging the agony of justice getting it’s rightful place. But the bad guys, primarily here the deeply disturbed Waits, are prepared to make unbelievable sacrifices and perform despicable actions to clear the path for their freedom. This is a killer you love to hate, and long for his downfall.

Titus Welliver begs the question as to whether or not he has what it takes to be a leading man. He was terrific in support in Gone Baby Gone, but was lazily under-used in Sons of Anarchy. His hound-dog exterior here, accompanied by the odd disapproving gnarl or pondering smugness, suits a protagonist with such a calm, brooding demeanor. Welliver’s casting is not about star appeal or bringing in the ladies (though that is not for me to say), but rather showcasing the gritty charisma of a wise old owl and a wily bruised wolf in Bosch. It’s a solid, compelling performance throughout, his hard-edged personal perfect for a crime drama of this discourse and caliber.

Bosch is captivating in its bleak moments. There’s a frank discussion on the state of the world, yet the commanding tone somehow shows the characters craving for hope that there is a better place, a better world than this. Even Bosch at one point actually says he wants to have faith and make things right. The burden and weight of family guilt and dissatisfaction of unresolved crimes are on his shoulders – “It must be hard being you” he is told. But we are invested. His deceivingly lackluster, casual exterior suggests a lack of passion with Bosch, but that is definitely not the case. His actions are subtle, he is a thinker, he’s a clever, calculating detective . “Too old a cat to be fucked by a kitten,” he tells a crook.

It is inevitable that with the vast array of detective shows available on TV that they, no matter the quality of the show, can blend into one another. Sometimes a formula works fine. Some for decades. Sometimes we, and the harsh American ratings system, require something fresh, a different angle – if just to shake the hornet’s nest. Bosch provides us with a healthily paced detective tale, one that never runs out of juice. A little rough around the edges not being one of its flaws. By the final episode (there are just 10 to the season) quite a bit of air has been deflated from the balloon, but it never near bursts. Having energetically dragged us through the mud of horrible crimes and unflattering police work, it is reassuring to have many of the loose ends tied up so richly, while we take a well-earned breather.

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