Hit or Sh**: FOX’s ROSEWOOD

In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.

rosewood

I went into ROSEWOOD blind, not having heard or read anything about the new Morris Chestnut-helmed crime procedural from FOX. Knowing it would likely be standard network writing with a broad four-quadrant demographic, my bar was set pretty low.

I had to limbo to get through this one.

rosewood drink

I needed a few of these as well

But first, I want to give the show a little bit of credit where credit is due. Despite my disappointment with the pilot episode, there are actually some things that ROSEWOOD does right. While I feel the show is not in any way helping to move along original concepts or stories in the television landscape, the things it does do are greatly appreciated.

First of all, the cast is incredibly diverse, and in every sense of the word. From the mixed-gender, racial minority protagonists, to the various sexual orientations and age groups represented by the main and supporting cast members, ROSEWOOD makes an admirable effort to address these issues, issues that are omnipresent across other procedurals and, sadly, most of television. It also avoids the problem that I feel often plagues shows that do diversify similarly, in that it doesn’t draw attention to the fact that the characters are, for example, lesbian. They just are. The pilot’s storyline isn’t based on our protagonist being black, nor does it draw conflict from his sister dating a white woman, and this is refreshing. Just a few years ago, this would have never been the case. Even if these minorities had been included in the capacity that they are here, it would have been followed by conflicts built on the stereotypes they would undoubtedly play. So good on you, ROSEWOOD. I can only hope this remains to be the case.

Speaking of the titular man, Morris Chestnut is the only hero in this whole thing. The charisma he exudes through the smooth-talking, private-practice pathologist Beaumont Rosewood Jr. is one of the only reasons this show has anything going for it. Despite heavy-handed writing, Chestnut commits unwaveringly and somehow, miraculously, it works for him. That’s not to say that the whole show works around him, but its very possible that without his strong performance, the entire package would have been dead on arrival.

rosewood no shirt

It’s common knowledge that being shirtless helps you contemplate murder-germs

Okay, now on to the part where I get upset at the state of television. YES the show has diversity, YES it’s lead actor could charm his way out of a cardboard box, but you cannot just put those things into a show and expect a happy hit-bonanza to come jumping out and shower you in Emmys. As they say in Hollywood, executives want something that is the same, but different. This is just the same. ROSEWOOD is so much like every other show on television in the last ten years, it’s infuriating. It’s CASTLE. It’s CSI. It’s HAWAII-FIVE O. It’s any other crime drama ever to come into existence, but without the originality that possibly made that show a hit.

It seems to pride itself on the concept that Rosie (as his friends call him) is a private pathologist who is hired out by the cops to help solve their murders, but this doesn’t change the nature of the beast. It’s still a generic procedural cop romp, and a boring one at that. The plot is sub-standard, the dialogue is passable at best, and the revelations mundane. The writer’s attempt at interjecting humor through the wise-cracking lead character just muddles the tone to the point where the whole show feels like it never decides what it is. It’s not funny enough to be “funny” and doesn’t take itself seriously enough for there to ever feel like there are heavy stakes. Ultimately, the whole thing feels drawn out, pointless, and unoriginal.

FOX certainly went the “safe” route with this show. It checks all the boxes of a network program, and very well might draw in the middle-America crowd who is just looking for more of what they already have. The sad thing is, a show like this might end up succeeding simply because it doesn’t do anything wrong. It just doesn’t manage to do anything right.

Verdict: Sh**

ROSEWOOD airs on FOX on Wednesdays

Spencer Reed

Spencer is a Crossfader guest contributor in addition to an aspiring television writer and showrunner currently residing in Los Feliz, where he sleeps on a cardboard box under the I-5 freeway. You can often find him listening to podcasts and eating at Costco.

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