All good things come to an end. That’s what happened when Amazon Prime ended its run of BOSCH after seven years. But before the series ended, a spin-off was already certain. Unlike your LAW & ORDERs, CSIs, and NCISes, however, BOSCH: LEGACY is not a typical spin-off with a totally different ensemble or where a series’ character picks up roots and relocates (think Kelsey Grammar going from Boston’s CHEERS to Seattle’s FRASIER).
The setting is still the City of Angeles. When we last saw Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver), he verbally sparred with his boss and left the LAPD, pulling the pin on his career. He’s a private investigator now, while his daughter, Maddie (Madison Lintz), is now a “boot,” a rookie officer on patrol, following in daddy’s footsteps. The germination for both occurred during the final season as the political machine of policing grew too big, and Bosch felt he had just cause to leave with his morality intact.
Tom Bernado, a writer on BOSCH, developed LEGACY with the help of key personnel from the original. Michael Connelly, author of the Bosch mystery series, and original showrunner Eric Overmyer are back as executive producers. Everything looks the same, and it still moves with an unhurried gait, giving the show a certain feel you can’t get on broadcast dramas, aiming to stimulate and wrap up a mystery in 45 minutes.
As the show’s major holdover, Welliver keeps everything running smoothly like jazz, Harry Bosch’s preferred choice of music. Had BOSCH: LEGACY omitted Bosch entirely and emphasized daughter Maddie – moving towards a SOUTHLAND-type drama and highlighting the Legacy subtitle – there would have been a noticeable drop-off. Instead, by leaning on Welliver, the spin-off retains the sameness. Plus, Bosch is one of the best television characters of the past decade. Why rock the boat when you have him as a reliable anchor?
Bosch tends to keep his emotions coiled like a bone-dry water hose. But when you get in his way or provoke him, the spigot opens, and anger flows. Bosch is driven for closure, which makes him a great investigator. Moving into the private field for the new series offers a different perspective where he no longer has the badge or a squad room to help move the needle of a case forward.
Besides Welliver and Lintz, Mimi Rogers is back as Honey “Money” Chandler, a high-profile defense attorney with whom Maddie interned before deciding on a career in law enforcement. Chandler and Bosch are sometimes opposites and sometimes allies depending on who benefits the most. The newest regular is Stephen A. Chang as Mo, a guy Bosch uses for surveillance and jobs requiring skills that a technology dinosaur like him can’t execute.
The fallout from BOSCH’s final season carries forward into the first season of LEGACY. The biggest carryover is Chandler coming back to her defense practice after a shady businessman tried to have her killed. She’s still dealing with the trauma as she tries to mount a new case, it causes a third party to show up in Los Angeles and make trouble. Also, part of her caseload is defending a homeless man accused of killing a doctor. Meanwhile, Bosch is hired by a dying billionaire (William Devane) to find a young Mexican woman he fell in love with while in college. As a boot in the LAPD, Maddie goes through the growing pains in working with her experienced partners before finding herself involved in a pair of cases involving a serial rapist and a police shooting.
The stories start independently, and then they’ll pause as attention goes to something else, come back and continue forward, and connect and be finished at different points in the season. One of Chandler’s stories is wrapped up with episodes remaining, while one of Maddie’s is left unresolved. This narrative continues BOSCH’s serialized structure, which differs from the crime-of-the-week feel of most episodic procedurals. Bernado and his team aren’t totally abstinent from the formula; they incorporate a Joan Wick type to spice up one of the remaining episodes and use flashbacks to provide extrinsic details about Bosch’s family history and military service. After seven seasons, we don’t really need more information about Bosch, but I see how they could help new viewers better understand his motivations and tenacity. (Though, the family flashback is a nice Easter egg for novel readers, as they’ll know the connection right away.)
Whether you call it a spin-off or a continuation with a different title, BOSCH: LEGACY is a new beat that maintains the quality that made the original one of the best cop shows on television. The good news is that it’s already been renewed for a second season.
Critic’s Note: The first four episodes of LEGACY are currently on Amazon Freevee, a free, ad-supported streaming service (formerly called IMDb.TV). BOSCH’s seven seasons are also available on Freevee.
Two more episodes will be released each Friday through May 27.