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Television

Review: In ‘Rosewood,’ a bantering Morris Chestnut seizes the day and solves murders around Miami

Morris Chestnut and Jaina Lee Ortiz star in ‘Rosewood’

Morris Chestnut, left, stars as freelance pathologist Beaumont Rosewood, unofficial murder-solving partner to Miami Det. Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz) in “Rosewood.”

(Jeff Daly)
Los Angeles Times Television Critic

In “Rosewood,” a comparatively lighthearted episodic quasi-police procedural premiering Wednesday on Fox, Morris Chestnut plays Miami-based Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, a kind of freelance medical examiner “considered by some to be the Beethoven of private pathologists,” as he likes to put it.

That is supposed to sound a little pretentious and self-regarding; whenever he says it, he is mocked. But, of course, he is the Beethoven of private pathologists, seeing the clues and making the connections that ordinary, salaried, police-employed medical examiners miss.

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Rosewood is a stylish gent who favors the classic Sonny Crockett blazer-and-T-shirt combination, drives a banana-yellow GTO and operates out of a glittering Space Age open-plan autopsy-torium. Big enough to fit 50, fitted with myriad machines and workstations, it is occupied only by Rosewood, his sister Pippy (Gabrielle Dennis) and her fiancée, Tara (Anna Konkle) — though his mother (the great Lorraine Toussaint) will drop in as well.

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Where many sleuths of modern fiction are sad cases barely fit for life, Rosewood — who suffers from a variety of health problems that cause him to seize the day, every day — loves it to bits. That is the gimmick here, such as it is, and as with most everything else in this show, it is stated outright.

“Always remind yourself that each day is a gift,” the doctor-sleuth tells a suspect just run to ground. “That will help you on your path to being a better man and less of a jackass.” Then they hug.

Indeed, it is rare to meet a series so little concerned with disguising its exposition: “I have to ask,” Rosewood asks new gun in town Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz), whose partner he will become, even though he is not a detective and does not work for the police department, “why does the youngest beat cop ever promoted to detective at the NYPD move back to Miami?”

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There’s an answer to that, and though sad, it will leave only the smallest impression on your mind. Just so, death here, though it is ostensibly the point, is just a reason to run about and mostly be charming. Rosewood will banter, even when nobody banters back.

The show’s aims seem to be extremely modest, which is not necessarily a bad thing in an era where every crime show wants to — or is supposed to want to — clobber you with heaviness. “Rosewood” just wants you to watch pretty people solve murders in a subtropical setting, with just enough business attached to hang a long arc on or whip up a season-finale cliffhanger, if it gets to that.

If “Rosewood” is unremarkable, there is still a place for unremarkable television in the mental life of the culture. (Creator Todd Harthan worked on USA’s amiable, undemanding “Psych.”) And if Chestnut and Ortiz don’t exactly burn up the screen, they are not hard to take, like the show they live in.

robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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‘Rosewood’

Where: Fox

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

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Rating: TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and violence)


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