September 23, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Rosewood”


ROSEWOOD:  Wednesday 8PM on FOX – If Nothing Else Is On…

If there’s one overriding theme running through the network television premieres this fall, it’s their almost defiant lack of ambition.  The Big 4 may be watching their audiences erode and their advertising revenues shrink, they may be besieged by literally hundreds of other series on cable and streaming services, they may go unpraised by critics and unawarded at Emmy time, but they just don’t give a damn.  They’re going to make old-fashioned soaps, sitcoms and procedurals, and if the viewers are increasingly elderly, at least they’re alive.

There is absolutely nothing notable about ROSEWOOD.  Todd Harthan’s series (he’s been a writer/producer for shows like Psych and Dominion, but has never created one before) is a by-the book procedural, in which brilliant free spirit pathologist-for-hire Beaumont Rosewood (Morris Chestnut) teams up with beautiful but no-nonsense Miami detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz) to solve a homicide of the week.  There’s a gruff secondary cop (Anthony Michael Hall), and Rosewood has two slightly kooky assistants (Gabriele Dennis and Anna Konkle), as well as a loving mother (Lorraine Toussaint).  Rosewood and his family are African-American, and those two assistants include his gay sister and her fiancee, but none of that alters the familiarity of the premise.  Neither does the pilot’s Big Reveal:  Rosewood, a premature birth, has several congenital conditions that could kill him at any moment; thus his fascination with death and his determination to live a carefree life to the very end.  (Villa has been given the complimentary feature of being recently widowed.)

For a completely unexciting series, Rosewood is OK.  Chestnut has plenty of charm, Ortiz plays off him well, and at least in the pilot, director Richard Shepard makes some use of the vibrant Miami locale.  The main storyline, about Rosewood proving that a seeming car accident was actually a convoluted murder (a block of dry ice was used to hold down her foot on the gas pedal, so that it would melt by the time the authorities arrived), isn’t at all convincing as one a two-bit drug distributor would have ever conceived, so its modest cleverness is empty, for whatever that matters.  Harthan’s dialogue throughout is strictly functional.

FOX has given Rosewood big-time territory as the lead-in to Empire, and while that’s no guarantee (American Idol kept sinking last spring even as Rosewood climbed), it should provide some sampling.  As with so many of this fall’s network series (Blindspot, Limitless and the upcoming Code Black, to name a few), Rosewood isn’t interested in doing more than taking up an hour of the audience’s time.  At that, it may manage to succeed with a moderate number of viewers.  Before long, though, those same viewers will be hard-pressed to be sure whether the episode they’re watching is a new hour or a rerun.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."