October 1, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “Rosewood”


ROSEWOOD:  Wednesday 8PM on FOX

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on ROSEWOOD:  Although he appears to be bursting with good health, Dr. Beaumont Rosewood (Morris Chestnut) has enough congenital illnesses to fell the entire emergency room of Code Black, and they’ve affected him in two ways:  he has an easygoing desire to fully enjoy each day as if it may be his last, and a fascination with death that’s made him embrace a career as a pathologist for hire in his native Miami.  The latter brings him into an unofficial partnership with newly arrived homicide detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz), who has the complementary perspective of being recently widowed.

Episode 2:  The network note to series creator Todd Harthan after the pilot seems to have been to play up the character issues that Rosewood and Villa have.  So in the show’s second hour, we had Rosewood take himself off a heart transplant list, much to the despair of his churchy mother Donna (Lorraine Toussaint), on the theory that he was likely to die anyway, so it was unfair to deprive a healthier recipient of a chance at life.  Meanwhile, Villa’s grief over her husband’s death surfaced in anger management issues when she took a punch at a club owner who was trying to close down for the night when she wanted to keep dancing.  To make things a little soapier, the therapist that Villa’s Captain Hornstock (Domenick Lombardozzi) sent Villa to see turned out to be Rosewood’s new semi-serious girlfriend (Nicole Ari Parker).

None of that, however, did much to obscure the fact that Rosewood is basically another of the fall’s procedurals.  Most of the episode revolved around the crime of the week, which was a variation of the old template where the detectives have to decide whether it was the wife or the mistress who killed the victim, and the supposed twist is that they did it together.  Since Rosewood is a pathologist par excellence, there were plenty of CSI-ish tricks like pulling a fingerprint off a severed leg, and identifying a murder scene by a hair used in its carpets.  None of them were particularly wow-inducing.

The main attraction of the show remains the byplay between its stars.  Rosewood’s cockiness is already becoming a bit insufferable, despite the efforts of the script to cast him in a more human light (his repeated attempts to get Hornstock into a healthier lifestyle felt like the D storyline from a mediocre sitcom), and there’s so much will-they-or-won’t-they banter in the script that at times it crowds out the clues.  But Chestnut and Ortiz are charmers, shot for maximum beauty by episode director Timothy Busfield, and they make the show mildly diverting.

Rosewood has the good fortune to air as the lead-in to Empire, and it was evident last week that the proximity was boosting its rating (most non-competition shows stay steady or go down in the course of their hour, but Rosewood climbed the closer it got to the start of Empire), and that should keep it going, at least for a while.  Whether the series will have the strength to survive elsewhere on the schedule is something that, if Rosewood is lucky, it won’t have to find out for a while.

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."