retail news in context, analysis with attitude

I don't think I've made a secret of the fact that I'm an Amazon fan. But never more so than right now, since Amazon is responsible for "Bosch," a 10-part series based on the novels of Michael Connelly.

Some background. Connelly sold the rights to make a movie about his LA detective hero, Harry Bosch, to a major studio years ago. The project went nowhere, as so often happens in Hollywood, and a couple of years ago, Connelly got the film and TV rights back. At about the same time, Amazon was engaged in the early stages of funding proprietary content - TV shows and movies - that would serve as a differential advantage for its Prime service, allowing it to compete more effectively with Netflix, which has successfully done the same thing with series like "House of Cards."

The two parties made a deal. Connelly worked with some expert producers, but kept his hand in, making sure that the series would accurately reflect the novels. And Amazon pledged to make a pilot, and go to series if viewers liked it. Which they did. And now all 10 are available to Prime members to watch online.

It is wonderful.

Novels adapted into movies often lose the context and depth found in the original books. Occasionally, this is a good thing. (I've generally thought that all of Tom Clancy's books made better movies because they got rid of the technobabble, and I have a low threshold for technobabble.) But generally, movies based on books become like Cliff Notes for the original material. And when books are turned into traditional broadcast TV series, they've often reached for the lowest common denominator, because that was always the safest way to get ratings.

This is changing, as companies like HBO, Showtime, Netflix and Amazon have decided that they'll do better and can differentiate themselves by not underestimating the taste and intelligence of their audiences. I applaud this approach, and "Bosch" is an example of how it can work.

Given 10 episodes to breathe, and for its characters and plot lines to marinate, "Bosch" becomes a compelling mystery that weaves in and out of several storylines, using the excellent Titus Welliver, in the lead role, as a kind of world-weary conductor who, while he has seen it all, retains his dignity and desire for justice. "Bosch" is a simple, driven narrative ... without technological bells and whistles ... that works because it is about plot and character, and it is well-acted, thoughtfully written, and skillfully directed. It is about obsessions of various kinds, and doesn't offer easy resolutions or neat packages ... happy endings are for fairy tales, and the City of Angels that is Bosch's beat is more like hell and purgatory.

Connelly has a lot of novels still to adapt, and I hope this is just the first of many series about Harry Bosch.

The Academy Awards are on Sunday night, and to be honest, I haven't seen all the major nominated films and performances ... but I find myself rooting for Boyhood to win Best Picture, for Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Julianne Moore (Still Alice) to win best Actor and Actress, and for J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) to win Best Supporting Oscars. We'll see how I do.

Spring training has officially begun. Yippee.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

KC's View: