Bosch is back: Crime Scene goes on-set in LA for Series 3.

Hav­ing spent 25 years solv­ing mur­ders in the City of An­gels in Michael Con­nelly’s nov­els, Harry Bosch is do­ing it all over again in Ama­zon’s ac­claimed TV adap­ta­tion. Crime Scene feels the heat on the Hol­ly­wood set dur­ing film­ing of Sea­son 3.


When Crime Scene walks onto the LAPD Hol­ly­wood Divi­sion precinct set used for the Ama­zon Stu­dios series Bosch, the first thing we see is a statue of Santa Claus. It shouldn’t be that sur­pris­ing be­cause we’re in Novem­ber. Yet, it seems out of place when the tem­per­a­ture out­side is 29 de­grees Cel­sius and this feels like a per­fect day to go to the beach.

Later, we are re­minded that this is win­ter in Los An­ge­les when we pass through the pro­duc­tion of­fices. In one of them, be­hind the desk, is a wall of neatly typed Post-it notes re­lat­ing to the shoot­ing sched­ule that be­gan in late July. See­ing it prompts us to ask what con­di­tions are like in the LA sum­mer.

“In the sec­ond sea­son we did a scene in an old pa­per mill fac­tory in a re­ally dirty part of down­town,” says ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Hen­rik Bastin, who is lead­ing our set tour. “It was a record day, 118 de­grees Fahren­heit [ 48 de­grees Cel­sius] or some­thing like that. It was bru­tal.”

As un­com­fort­able as the Los An­ge­les heat can be, it is part of the city’s char­ac­ter. Ray­mond Chan­dler used it to good ef­fect to give his Philip Mar­lowe sto­ries an un­for­giv­ing at­mos­phere. As a re­sult, the Cal­i­for­nia desert be­came syn­ony­mous with post-war de­tec­tive fic­tion many years be­fore gritty Scan­di­na­vian mys­ter­ies made it cool to in­vent mur­ders in a cold cli­mate.

Since 1992, Michael Con­nelly has been help­ing to keep LA’S his­tory of hard­boiled de­tec­tives go­ing with his nov­els about Hierony­mus “Harry” Bosch. In ad­di­tion, for the past three years the for­mer LA Times crime re­porter has been bring­ing his LAPD de­tec­tive to tele­vi­sion as a writer and pro­ducer on the Ama­zon TV show that draws on his best­sellers.

“Harry Bosch was tied up for al­most 15 years be­cause of a deal I made with a film stu­dio,” Con­nelly re­counts when he joins our tour. “The ben­e­fit was that in the 15 years when I wished I had him back, TV changed and re­ally be­came a place to go if you wanted to tell char­ac­ter sto­ries.”

To pro­tect and serve

If Bosch had been made 20 years ago, it would have been just an­other mys­tery-of-the-week show, Con­nelly be­lieves. The rise of stream­ing ser­vices and the in­creased international pop­u­lar­ity of Nordic noir, how­ever, have al­lowed the show to be grounded in the same re­al­is­tic por­trayal of the lives of po­lice of­fi­cers that Con­nelly’s nov­els are known for.

“Our goal is to ac­cu­rately show what this job is like – not just the pro­ce­dure but in­ter­nally,” Con­nelly says. “We talk about how this job takes peo­ple into the dark side of hu­man­ity ev­ery sin­gle day. Some of that dark­ness seeps into a person and you’ve got to fig­ure out what to do with it and how to con­tain it.”

Harry Bosch him­self epit­o­mises the emo­tional cost of po­lice work, es­pe­cially when it be­comes all-con­sum­ing. His ob­ses­sive na­ture leads him to butt heads with bu­reau­cracy on many oc­ca­sions. Nonethe­less, the TV series isn’t just Dirty Harry for the small screen. Ac­cord­ing to Bastin, the main char­ac­ters’ ex­pe­ri­ences re­flect what of­fi­cers on the LAPD’S front line see all the time.

“We por­tray the rank and file very ac­cu­rately, the good and the bad,” Bastin ex­plains. “I think that’s what

the po­lice­men and women re­ally re­spond to. There are many series that show cops as much cooler-look­ing with guns blaz­ing. Then there’s us. We shine a light on how te­dious the job can be some­times and how hard it can be and how stupid the bosses are some­times.”

Bastin’s un­flat­ter­ing ref­er­ence to higher-ups in the LAPD prompts Crime Scene to ask how much co­op­er­a­tion the pro­duc­ers get from the pow­ers-that-be. “They have been noth­ing but sup­port­ive,” Con­nelly in­sists.

That back­ing ex­tends to ap­prov­ing Con­nelly’s con­tin­ued use of po­lice con­tacts who have been giv­ing him the in­side scoop for his nov­els. “We have two con­sul­tants who are real homi­cide de­tec­tives from the LAPD. Through the de­part­ment, we’ve ar­ranged to hire them for the show,” ex­plains Con­nelly. “They’re help­ful on all lev­els but I think the biggest part is when they come in here and talk with the writ­ers about their ex­pe­ri­ences.”

One ben­e­fit of be­ing in Los An­ge­les, Bastin says, is that the con­sul­tants often de­scribe sit­u­a­tions they’ve been in or heard of that are as dra­matic as any­thing Bosch’s writ­ers could come up with. They some­times come in with tales that sound too tall even for TV.

“We don’t ever feel that we have to come up with these big sce­nar­ios for some­thing plau­si­ble to hap­pen,” Bastin tells Crime Scene. “It will come nat­u­rally through the po­lice of­fi­cers just telling us, ‘Oh, two weeks ago this hap­pened to a col­league of mine,’ or some­thing so out­ra­geous that we can’t put it into the show. Yes­ter­day one of our of­fi­cers told us a story where the real-world sce­nario was so weird that we couldn’t pass it off. Peo­ple would just be like, ‘No, that can’t hap­pen.’ That hap­pens all the time.”

It isn’t just the LAPD in­for­mants’ sto­ries that make them an as­set, though. The trust that Con­nelly has gained af­ter work­ing with them for over a decade has earned him priv­i­leges that pro­duc­ers of other shows would die for.

“The de­tec­tives that we have are am­bas­sadors for the show,” says Bastin. “They’ve been able to talk us into the crime lab, into the coroner’s of­fice, and we’ve shot in this thing called the ‘big crypt’. It might look on the show like a re­ally cool set we built with all these bod­ies but it was a real place. They were real bod­ies.”

Moral com­pass

The precinct set that we’re taken to pro­vides an­other ex­am­ple of the level of au­then­tic­ity in Bosch. Ev­ery de­tail is ac­cu­rate down to the of­fi­cial-look­ing forms and mug shots that dec­o­rate the cu­bi­cles where Harry and the other de­tec­tives work. This, we’re told, is be­cause the set is an ex­act replica, “down to the scuff marks on the floor,” of the in­te­rior of the LAPD’S Hol­ly­wood Sta­tion just a few blocks away.

As we look around we get the sig­nal to be silent be­cause a lengthy in­ter­ro­ga­tion scene is be­ing filmed in one of the side rooms. When there’s a break in shoot­ing, Ti­tus Wel­liver, who plays Bosch, walks out of the room wear­ing a brown shirt and his char­ac­ter’s trade­mark ex­pres­sion of sup­pressed in­ten­sity.

Wel­liver has been one of TV’S hard­est work­ing ac­tors since the early 1990s and is no stranger to crime and le­gal series. He

This job takes peo­ple into the dark side of hu­man­ity ev­ery day

has ap­peared in such shows as Brook­lyn South, NYPD Blue, The Good Wife, Law & Or­der: LA, Sons of An­ar­chy and CSI: Crime Scene In­ves­ti­ga­tion. He ad­mits that when he got the first Bosch script he had read only one of Con­nelly’s nov­els, but it res­onated with him.

“I think I un­der­stand this char­ac­ter,” he tells us. “He’s a guy who has a very strong moral com­pass but he’s very hu­man. He’s flawed, he’s haunted, he’s vul­ner­a­ble but he doesn’t out­wardly ex­press his vul­ner­a­bil­ity to peo­ple.”

Wel­liver says that he has now read al­most all of Con­nelly’s books and nar­rated three au­dio­book adap­ta­tions. While he’s fa­mil­iar with Bosch as Con­nelly wrote him, though, there are as­pects of the books that are hard for an ac­tor to con­vey on screen.

“There’s a lot of times when we find Harry’s thoughts and im­pulses are be­ing spelled out through the nar­ra­tive of the story,” Wel­liver ob­serves. “That was one of the things that I no­ticed in the script and in the books, like Bosch sit­ting in his house look­ing over a mur­der book, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic or look­ing out of his bal­cony ob­serv­ing the city. There’s no di­a­logue there. I find those in some ways the most chal­leng­ing and also the most in­ter­est­ing things to act.”

Con­nelly has re­vealed that the third sea­son of Bosch will be based on his first book, The Black Echo, and his favourite novel, A Dark­ness More Than Night. The lat­ter puts Harry at what the au­thor calls “a low point”. When asked what this means, Wel­liver drops a few hints.

“This sea­son we find him def­i­nitely mov­ing in a darker di­rec­tion,” the ac­tor re­veals. “He’s do­ing some things that are tech­ni­cally il­le­gal. They are to serve the greater good but they are il­le­gal and could ul­ti­mately get him fired from the po­lice de­part­ment, if not put in jail. He’s been framed for a mur­der he didn’t com­mit. There’s a lot at play and that which he thought he had some res­o­lu­tion in turns out to be some­thing he doesn’t have res­o­lu­tion in.”

Wel­liver be­lieves that Bosch’s “top drawer” writ­ers un­der showrun­ner Eric Overmyer will make view­ers fear for Harry’s well-be­ing in Sea­son 3. Con­nelly, mean­while, cred­its Wel­liver with giv­ing the can­tan­ker­ous de­tec­tive a spe­cial qual­ity that keeps au­di­ences on­side: “Ti­tus car­ries it in his eyes. That’s some­thing that I can’t even ap­proach de­scrib­ing in words in a book. It is a di­men­sion that re­ally en­trances me when I see it.”

Off the page

What­ever hap­pens to Harry in Sea­son 3, we al­ready know that it won’t be his last case be­cause Ama­zon has or­dered a fourth sea­son of the show. That means an­other sum­mer spent film­ing these shock­ing cases un­der in­tense heat. Still, that doesn’t make Wel­liver want to hand in his badge. “De­spite the fact that the sub­ject mat­ter I deal with is some­times ter­ri­bly, ter­ri­bly dis­turb­ing and dark, the peo­ple that I’m sur­rounded by and I work with make it very plea­sur­able,” he says.

Be­fore be­ing called away, Wel­liver ex­presses the hope that Ama­zon will green­light more adap­ta­tions of Con­nelly’s books. As the on-screen lives of char­ac­ters di­verge from what Con­nelly com­mit­ted to the printed page, how­ever, the show’s writ­ers are find­ing they have more free­dom to blend fic­tion with fact.

“The con­tract was that the first three years have to be based on books, but the fourth doesn’t,” Bastin dis­closes. “The cops came in one day and started talk­ing about a real case they’ve been work­ing on. It was so in­ter­est­ing that we wound an arc through about six of the episodes of Sea­son 3 that will be­come a big story in Sea­son 4 and is not based on a book. I’m sure we’ll have some­thing from a book be­cause I think the au­di­ence re­acts to that. But we do feel more free­dom to ex­pand hori­zons and not be 100 per­cent book-re­lated.”

Whether the sto­ries come from cops or Con­nelly, there’s an op­ti­mism on the set about the fu­ture sea­sons. As Crime Scene emerges blink­ing into the un­sea­sonal weather, it seems clear that Bosch’s TV fu­ture is as bright as the LA sun.

Bosch Series 3 is on Ama­zon Prime from 21 April.

Ti­tus Wel­liver as Harry Bosch on set.

Lt Grace Bil­lets (Amy Aquino) is one of Bosch’s clos­est friends. De­tec­tive Jer­ryedgar (Jamie Hec­tor) light­ens Bosch’s darker side.

Bosch is get­ting to know his daugh­ter­mad­die (Madi­son Lintz).

Jamie Hec­tor is well known to view­ers from The Wire.

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