Bosch is a 10-episode (for now) series adapted from best-selling crime novelist Michael Connelly’s books about a hard-boiled LAPD detective, but it’s also Amazon’s first attempt at an hour-long drama exclusive to its Prime subscription service. Debuting a new show after the success of Transparent may have some excited about award season already, but Amazon’s biggest accomplishment may be the fact that no one involved in creating Bosch seems to care it’s on Amazon, or the Internet, at all.
Digital Trends spoke with five actors with key roles in Bosch, including lead Titus Welliver – whose resume extends to roles in Lost, The Good Wife and Sons of Anarchy, to name a few – and they all told us they didn’t come on board because of the uniqueness of the platform or because it was Amazon or involved streaming; they just liked the story a lot, and were hooked by Connelly’s writing, which centers on Detective Bosch in pursuit of the killer of a 13-year-old boy while he also stands trial in court on accusations he murdered a suspect in cold blood.
Amazon’s biggest accomplishment may be the fact that no one involved in creating Bosch seems to care it’s on Amazon, or the Internet, at all.
Amazon is past the point, in other words, of having to convince high-level talent that working online is as valuable as making a broadcast TV show. As Bosch demonstrates, actors don’t see platforms like Amazon Prime as a risk or novelty anymore.
“It’s a great character, and the script was superb. That’s why I was pleased to be asked to the table,” Titus Welliver explains. “My decision was not necessarily informed by this being new media.”
The same goes for actress Annie Wersching, who plays an LAPD officer in the show and a romantic interest for Welliver. She signed on because of the “quality of the storytelling.” Likewise for Lance Reddick, who fans of HBO’s The Wire will remember as Lt. Cedric Daniels and who plays steely LAPD deputy chief Irvin Irving in Bosch.
“My experience with Bosch is closer to what I saw with HBO, as opposed to the typical network experience,” said Reddick. “There’s a trust in what the creators are trying to do. (Amazon) let us do our work.”
The release of Bosch, meanwhile comes at a time when both Amazon and its main competitor, Netflix, find themselves in a new phase of their respective original programming strategies. They’ve moved beyond the point where they are a new kind of TV experience. Transparent for Amazon and House of Cards for Netflix have proven that they can make award-winning TV shows as good as any TV network can. Now, it’s about building up a library of exclusive titles so that viewers have a buffet of choices available that keeps them glued to the service.
Netflix says it plans to feature 320 hours of original programming over the course of 2015, triple the amount of original programming the company released in 2014. Amazon is likewise flexing its TV muscle this year, signing director Woody Allen to direct a TV series and releasing another slate of pilots for 2015.
But Amazon isn’t exactly like its Netflix competitor, either. Henrik Bastin, a Bosch executive producer, believes that even though Amazon badly wants new high-quality originals, the company brings a light touch to shows like Bosch.
“What Amazon Studios has done very wisely is to embrace strong creative minds,” Bastin said. “We had a real discussion with them up front, and you go through the pilot process where you get invaluable feedback directly from the audience. Amazon lets creative producers and writers flourish. You can see it in their other shows like Transparent.”
Eric Overmyer, another Bosch executive producer who among other things executive-produced the new Showtime drama The Affair, agreed that Amazon brings the opposite of a heavy hand to its original series.
“As far as the notes process, they weren’t – I’ve worked on network shows where they micromanage the process, and it’s just infuriating,” Overmyer tells Digital Trends. “It’s like, why did you hire us if you didn’t think we could do it? Amazon’s notes, though, were clarifying. They were great partners. Great collaborators. We’re proud of the show and confident the vast majority of Michael’s fan base will be pleased. I think we stayed true to the spirit of the books without slavishly adapting them.”
“I think this is way past being the wave of the future. I feel TV should be at my convenience.”
Los Angeles is as much of a character in the show as Bosch himself, and to really get the feel of the city, Bosch was shot partly in the LAPD’s Hollywood station. While doing that, Amy Aquino, who plays LAPD Lt. Grace Billets, said it got to a point where the production was so immersive that if you turned around, you couldn’t tell if this person was an actor or that person was an actual cop.
In addition to being the creator of Bosch, Michael Connelly – who’s seen more than 58 million copies of his books sold worldwide – also served as a Bosch executive producer. He told Digital Trends one thing that sold him on Amazon as the outlet he wanted to work with was Amazon Studios vice president Roy Price’s deep familiarity with the book series.
Price had read the books, and was conversant about the story in a way that made Connelly – who says he himself is a happy binge-watcher of online TV these days – happy to work with the online giant.
“I was comfortable from the very beginning,” Connelly said. “He was the studio head but also a collaborator in throwing out ideas. He was drawing from the books, and that was obviously a good sign. There was a great level of trust there. Their idea was, we get what you want to do.
“I think this is way past being the wave of the future. I feel TV should be at my convenience. I was streaming so early that I got invited to be part of their consumer testing group. I had a teenage daughter, and that’s all she does is stream and binge and do it at her convenience.”