Review: Rosewood 1×1 (US: Fox)

A charity case

In the US: Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox

I can’t tell whether to be charitable to Fox or not when it comes to Rosewood. On the one hand, Rosewood is a big budget, primetime crime drama, filmed on location in Miami, and starring a predominantly black and Latino cast, including two lesbians about to embark on an inter-racial marriage.

On the other, it feels like someone fired up a 1995 version of Final Draft, opened the ‘crime procedural’ template and then got it to add a few random names. Because apart from its diversity and setting, Rosewood is about as generic as it comes. And filled with very irritating people.

It stars the marvellously named and frequently topless Morris Chestnut (V, Legends) as a go-getting, high-achieving forensic pathologist who rather than being a public sector employee, hires out his services to both the police department and private individuals who want a second opinion. He does this through a company he runs with his toxicologist sister and her scientist fiancée (I honestly couldn’t tell you what kind of scientist she is, but she does look through a microscope occasionally, so I’m assuming she is one).

It’s pretty lucrative, lucrative enough it seems that he can afford a nice car, a nice house and billboards advertising his services all over Miami. Who wants to bet there’s some drugs money in there that Fox is never going to show us?

So far, so acceptable, and joking aside, it’s good to have a strong, black, male action lead in a TV show who isn’t a hyper-masculine, gun-wielding rapper, sports star and/or drug dealer, but a middle-class guy from a happy family who made all his money by going to college, starting his own business and helping people.

It would be so great if Rosewood were great.

All the same, wishes aren’t horses and a show can’t get anywhere just on happy thoughts. It needs a decent plot, characters, etc. And unfortunately, this is written by Todd Harthan, one of the individuals who gave us the world’s worst TV show: Dominion.

This is where it gets bad. As it stands, the show would basically be private sector CSI but without government-endorsed access to crime scenes. That wouldn’t work as an episodic format, so the twist that’s actually a straighten is that Rosewood quickly shows his family firm’s worth to equally high-achieving, go-getting police detective Jaina Lee Ortiz (The After), so she takes him with her on cases.

Theirs is the sort of relationship that probably looks good on paper, as you congratulate yourself on how economical you’re being with your 40 minutes of run-time, getting all that character establishment and background over and done with in half the time of other shows. But performed by two living, breathing human beings and then smeared onto people’s screens, it’s actually intensely irritating.

Chestnut and Ortiz spend a lot of their time telling each other how accomplished they are – sometimes they talk about how awesome they themselves are, sometimes they just tell each other how awesome the other person is (“What’s the youngest ever foot patrolman to become a detective in NYPD history doing transferring back to her home town of Miami?”). They analyse each other (“I saw drugs and chemicals all over your house. You have a love affair with death.”). They flirt a bit (“I’ll tell you why if you tell me why you’re so obsessed with death…” “Maybe later”). They philosophise at each other (“I learnt then not to be obsessed with death, but with living, because every day is precious.”).

So intent are they with being clever at each other that they won’t have noticed that the audience worked out what was actually blindingly obvious about each of their secrets halfway through the episode and is merely waiting for the characters to ‘reveal’ what they think is marvellously important and deep – except it honestly wasn’t worth waiting for (spoiler alert: she’s not married, she’s a widow), and in Rosewood’s case, it’s edging towards the “Really guys? You went with that?” (spoiler alert: he was a premature baby). It’s also in the trailer.

Unfortunately, as much as Chestnut’s perky, suave Rosewood is fun to watch, Ortiz is even more miserable, duller and superfluous to the plot’s requirements than the similarly charactered Alana De La Garza was in Forever. While there may be romance in the show’s future – and for once, couldn’t a show just start off with the two main characters just hitting it off and liking each other from the beginning rather than waiting four to five years for the inevitable? – it’ll be a bit like George Clooney dating a teflon casserole pan (with perhaps a bit of dancing, given Ortiz’s background) so is anyone really going to be looking forward to that?

The supporting cast are even more unnecessary and rather than having any real characters or interesting qualities of their own, Rosewood’s co-workers/relatives really just seem to be there to show how right-on the programme is and how two women can have a loving and incredibly, blandly normal relationship together.

If you’ve seen any episodes of CSI or Bones you’ll have already seen better cases, so don’t expect to be wowed by the mystery in this first episode at least. But to be honest, you probably won’t want to be tuning in, unless you simply want to artificially inflate the ratings to make it look like Fox’s diversity experiment is working.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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