Fox’s new “Rosewood” feels like a compilation of plot devices and characters and dialogue from every other cop or crime show on television right now (or, really, ever) and leaves you unsure even after forty minutes whether they’re going for light comedy or drama with some depth. It’s not even a combination of the two — it’s just ambiguous. And though the show is funny at times, overall it doesn’t really work.

Dr. Rosewood ( Morris Chestnut, “Nurse Jackie”) is confident to the point of being cocky, but he hasearned the right, as the best pathologist in Miami. The pilot begins with him running — literally — into what looks like a grisly murder case. Very “CSI Miami,” except Rosewood cracks the case within two minutes instead of 45, irritating the guy who is supposed to be solving the crime. We then learn he runs his own pathology lab with his sister and his sister’s fiance, and they do private consultations on cases. The plot begins to pick up when his mother (Lorraine Toussaint (“Orange is the New Black”) comes to ask him for a personal favor in the form of a second opinion on the case of her former student. It had been deemed as an accidental death, but she feels it was something more sinister.



Series Pilot

Wednesdays at 8 p.m.


Unfortunately, the writers buy into the idea that we wouldn’t possibly keep watching their show unless there’s a possibility of a sex scene sometime in the not so distant future. Rosewood checks into it, discovering that the case is in fact more than it looked at first glance, and learning that the new homicide detective from New York, Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz, “The After”) isn’t as impressed by him as he is. In order to solve the case — and obviously, catch the bad guy — the two have to work together, which is more than fine by Rosewood. It doesn’t take too long for Villa to warm up to him enough to keep him clued in, but he still irritates her the majority of their time together.  “It’s undeniable — we make a great team,” he smirks, after setting some guy’s nose that Villa just broke. The sexual tension between Rosewood and Villa is stale. It’s too obvious and overdone.

“Rosewood” brings the same kind of humor to a mystery crime that USA’s “Psych” did, which makes sense as it is the brainchild of Todd Harthan, who also worked on “Psych.” But Rosewood goes a little deeper than “Pysch” ever did. It feels like the writers are trying to show more respect for dead people than the usual procedurals that use glimpses of mangled bodies in the first or last five minutes of a show as a plot driver — especially with a couple almost teary lines delivered seriously by Toussaint, who doesn’t get as much screentime as she should. This may also be because both Rosewood and Villa have complicated relationships with the concept and consequences of death — especially the kind that you can’t see coming, and can’t solve.

For a show that’s supposed to feel like easy viewing, this dichotomy between trying to be thoughtful about life and having every other line be a cute little quip doesn’t work.  It makes you laugh, but only because the humor in it is so familiar.

Like “Minority Report,” another new show on Fox, “Rosewood”’s main characters are people of color, and one of them has a lesbian fiance (which is worth pointing out as there is still a lack of shows featuring main characters who are anything other than heterosexual). So at least there, Fox is making some great decisions. Though I do wish these shows would stop having even their women characters insult male criminals by calling them “scared little bitches” — but I guess Fox thinks we really can’t have it all. 

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