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Even as serialized television gains ground across both TV networks and streaming services, there will always be room for procedural dramas out there, although it generally takes an extra-interesting premise to get people hooked. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Fox has done it with their newest “one genius solves all the crimes by going against everyone’s gut instincts” drama Rosewood. I know you’re not supposed to judge books (TV shows) by their covers (pilot episodes), but it doesn’t take one genius or a team of them to figure out that this show should have kicked things off stronger if it wants to survive.
Let’s start off with what is easily Rosewood’s strongest point: Morris Chestnut. The actor, who has been on everything from The Best Man movies to the recently released The Perfect Guy to Nurse Jackie, is an endearing presence in everything he’s in, and easily commands viewers’ attention. Here, he plays Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, but you can call him Rosey. He’s a private pathologist in Miami who is basically like Sherlock Holmes with corpses, knowing just where to look for clues and exactly what all of it means. This has given him quite a bit of an ego, but you come to realize that he’s got a health problem that makes him seem less prideful and more appreciative of his life and the gifts he’s been given.
In the pilot, the case in question involves the mystery surrounding a woman’s death, as brought to Rosewood’s attention by his mother Donna, played by Forever’s Lorraine Toussaint. He checks out the body with his assistants Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis), who is his sister, and Tara (Anna Konkle), in his beyond state-of-the-art autopsy room, which makes the Nip/Tuck offices look like a preschool. You can tell that this room is going to be a central hub where Rosewood will spend an ample amount of time. Spoiler: Rosewood finds something that the cops didn’t!
This gets him paired up with Detective Annalise Villa, as played by Jaina Lee Ortiz. To be expected, she’s street savvy and barely has any time for Rosewood’s shit when they first meet, although he inevitably shows off his skillset in multiple ways as the episode goes on. And one of those attributes is definitely pouring on the charm, almost to a fault. By the time the episode ends, you understand that these two characters are going to be solving crimes together in the future, and that almost all of those cases are going to turn out exactly like this, unless there’s some kind of an overarching story happening in the background.
Rosewood is the creation of Todd Harthan, a former writer and producer on such series as The Kill Point, Crash and Psych. This newest show is probably most comparable to the latter of those, but fits squarely within Fox’s past library of similarly-themed series, such as House, Backstrom and Lie to Me. However, the concept here definitely needs to be expanded and built upon if Rosewood is expected to bring in audiences in future weeks. You’ll recall that Backstrom didn’t last long, and it had a stronger ensemble going for it.
Still, for as disappointing as this initial entry is, Chestnut and Ortiz are easily capable of leading a TV show together, even if they aren’t doing anything particularly original in the process. Despite all of the case-of-the-week shows out there, Rosewood could possibly separate itself with more intelligent storytelling and intriguing murders. I’ll be there to binge-watch them later on if that ends up happening.
Make sure you don’t murder anyone and try to cover it up haphazardly, as Rosewood will be here to catch you when it premieres on Fox on Wednesday, September 22.