Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Bosch: Legacy’ on Amazon Freevee, Where Titus Welliver Trades In His LAPD Badge for a PI License
One of the first titles to appear under the banner of Freevee, Amazon’s recently unveiled, clunkily-monikored, ad-supported tier is Bosch: Legacy, the official spinoff of one its parent’s most successful streaming series. Here, Titus Welliver’s gruff homicide detective is retired from the LAPD and easing into his new gig as a private investigator, while his daughter hits the streets as a rookie patrol officer. Bosch: Legacy has already been renewed for a second season, and there’s talk of the Bosch universe expanding even more.
Opening Shot: A police cruiser is in pursuit of a vehicle with an LAPD chopper throwing its spot from above. Rookie officer Maddie Bosch (Madison Lintz), a “boot” in cop parlance, keys the mic. ““Adam 77, westbound First, approaching Vignes!”
The Gist: “Who are you if you don’t have a badge?” Chief of Police Irving (Lance Reddick) had asked Harry Bosch (Welliver) as he turned his gun and his shield, disgusted. And in his typically brusque manner, the suddenly retired homicide detective just shrugged. “I’m gonna find out.” Bosch: Legacy is all about that discovery, which finds him working the familiar territory of a private investigator: deadbeat husbands, surveillance, bail skips, missing kids, and mysterious billionaires with specific requests. Well, that last one isn’t necessarily typical. But it gets Bosch involved in the personal history of Whitney Vance (William Devane), a lonely, sickly tycoon who says he may have a long lost child. Honey Chandler (Mimi Rogers), recovered from the attempt on her life, has also been radicalized by that experience – at the shooting range, she puts a tight grouping into a human-shaped target. Chandler also enlists Bosch as an expert witness in her first case post-recovery, defending an intellectually-challenged homeless man whose confession in the slaying of a prominent doctor may have been coerced. And Maddie Bosch (Lintz), fresh from the police academy, is learning the ropes as a patrol officer alongside her veteran partner, Reina Vasquez (Denise G. Sanchez).
There’s lasting fallout from that attack on Chandler. The court case against the smug hedge funder who put out the hits on her and Maddie is thrown out for lack of evidence, and not likely to be retried. So it goes. “We do it my way this time,” Bosch tells Honey. He also proves adept at some light b&e in the service of retrieving a client’s personal possessions, a job which featured a technical assist from Mo (Stephen A. Chang), who’s paid with hard cash. “Cash?” Mo laughs. “Cash is so last century.” Bosch just smiles. “So am I, brother.” And speaking of last century, the newly-minted private eye also gets some unwanted heat from the city after a minor tremor damages his mid century abode cantilevered onto a slope in the Hollywood Hills.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The brisk plotting and tightly-laced storylines that defined all seven seasons of Bosch are already at work in its spinoff. And making him a private detective was both obvious and wise: it not only inserts Bosch’s personal quirks and dogged investigative style into the rangier territory of a private eye in Los Angeles, it also connects the character to the city’s legacy of TV dicks, from The Rockford Files to Columbo.
Our Take: Despite its handle, Bosch: Legacy doesn’t take its titular character on some crazy detour off Laurel Canyon Boulevard and into non-episodic, Legacy TV territory. It upholds the procedural, pulpy grooves of the original series, grooves that were hardened long before in the novels of Michael Connelly, and gives them new tread by freeing Bosch from the strictures of by-the-book law enforcement, which he always bristled at anyway. He’s a private investigator now, with his cop’s life as experiential. Bosch breaks into a guy’s house and lifts some stuff from his safe, all in service of a client. But he doesn’t bring his piece, because he knows possession of a firearm would tack years onto a sentence if he was actually caught. And while he stands by as the Rogers trial progresses, once the justice system craps out and the “shit bird” who targeted his daughter and friends walks, Bosch is ready to put his newfound freedom of movement to good use. Legacy is sure to explore that porous border between what’s lawful and what’s necessary in the service of hard-earned justice.
Welliver is in measured, fine and fully competent form here as Bosch. He misses catching killers, he tells a friend, but not the department bullshit. He cruises through LA in his nondescript but fine and fully competent Cherokee Classic, listens when people make him an offer, and adds a twist of the surly whenever necessary. (When the billionaire’s flunkie hassles him, he puts up a hand. “I answer to Mr. Vance.”) Mimi Rogers brings an air of refinement and bulldog tenacity to Honey Chandler, and it seems like the lawyer will be open to certain extra-legal activities. And as a rookie cop with Bosch’s name, Madison Lintz’s Maddie is already discovering how little being a legacy means inside the LAPD trenches. Bosch: Legacy ably binds each of these storylines to the other, and feels like it’s already hitting its stride. It’s a well-thumbed formula. But the police procedural still has chapters to offer.
Sex and Skin: Nothing in the first episode.
Parting Shot: Back at Vance’s spread, his snooty personal assistant notices the light in his study still on. She enters to find the billionaire slumped in his wheelchair before the fireplace. Unconscious? Certainly. Dead? Possibly. Vance did tell Bosch that his time was short. But you don’t bring in William Devane for a one-and-done episode.
Sleeper Star: As Reina Vasquez, Maddie’s training officer, Denise G. Sanchez (The Good Place, Mayans M.C.) is a real highlight of Bosch: Legacy in the early going. She’s liable to become an ally, once Maddie proves herself. But for now, it’s hard-ass mode. “You’re a boot,” she tells her greenhorn charge. “You don’t even know what you don’t know. This is life or death. You do your job right, or you get the fuck out of my car.”
Most Pilot-y Line: “There’s billions at stake here,” Vance tells Bosch without any shred of foreshadowing, none at all, no way. “People will do anything to stop you.” Do you think Vance’s warning has anything to do with the persistent tail Bosch picks up the very next day?
Our Call: STREAM IT. Bosch: Legacy is pulpy, procedural fun in the tradition of both Bosch and the storied, sometimes sordid history of fictional Los Angeles gumshoes that dates all the way back to Phillip Marlowe.
Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges