Watching ‘Bosch’ on Amazon

Different from the novels, but good nonetheless

Tonight I started watching the Amazon original series, Bosch

I’m a little behind on this one, I know. (The series premiered in 2015.) But hey—I got to The Sopranos only a few years ago. I am, however, a very longtime reader of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, so I knew that I would eventually find my way to the Amazon series, too.

First things first: This isn’t the Harry Bosch of the novels. The Harry Bosch of the novels is now about 70 years old. The onscreen Harry Bosch (played by Titus Welliver) is a old Gen Xer or a young Baby Boomer. (The actor, Welliver, was born in 1962.)

I understand why Amazon Studios made this creative decision. The Harry Bosch of the printed page is—let’s face it—approaching the end of his crime-fighting career. Michael Connelly has been trying to replace him with a new, younger character, with varying degrees of success. It wouldn’t have made sense to have started a new TV series with a septuagenarian crime fighter. (The original Harry Bosch novel came out in 1992, when the character was in early middle age.)

But the onscreen Harry Bosch isn’t simply the on-page Harry Bosch with a different birthdate. Amazon Studios made Harry Bosch edgier, and even more confrontational than the Harry Bosch of the novels. 

This, too, may have been a reasonable creative decision. Television is a different medium, after all. The Bosch of the Amazon series is still sympathetic and engaging. If his personality is different from the Harry Bosch of the novels, he shares the original Harry Bosch’s passion for justice. And that’s what really distinguishes Harry Bosch in the first place. 

The TV series, like the books, is filled with Los Angeles atmosphere and landmarks. As a native Ohioan, I’ve always enjoyed the LA setting of the books. That’s a key part of the series, too. (It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Los Angeles is a secondary character in every Harry Bosch story.)

This is not quite the Harry Bosch that I would have created for television. I would have preferred that the series start in 1992, with the younger version of Bosch. It wouldn’t have been difficult to have depicted the Los Angeles of less than 30 years ago. But neither Michael Connelly (the executive producer of the series) nor Amazon Studios consulted me. 

What they envisioned is not what I would have envisioned. But it’s still pretty good, and I plan to keep watching.