About three-quarters of the way through the first episode of the new series Rosewood (Fox, 8 p.m.), the criminal is cornered. He glares and barks, "You got nuthin' on me, lady cop. Ain't never gonna pin those murders on me!"
Right. Well, that's dialogue so old and tired it should have died a natural death several decades ago. And the fact it's still alive should be of interest to science.
Rosewood is a show so bad I feel sorry for it. I'd like to put it out of its misery. It's not up to me, of course. And the sad fact is it will probably hobble along for many months. People will wince at the sight of it. But it will stay on the air because something has to air in the hour before Empire (Fox, 9 p.m., CITY-TV, 8 p.m.).
See, Empire, which returns on Wednesday night, is a massive hit and often brilliantly done. (You can binge-watch the first, short season on shomi if you need to.) It airs at 9 p.m. because that's the optimum time in the old-fashioned universe of network TV where, the ancient sultans of scheduling believe, viewers sit down and watch at a certain day and time.
Further, Empire is a messy melodrama, sometimes called "a black Dynasty" but set in the hip-hop world and with a mostly non-white cast, and has a thrilling energy. So somebody, who should be a bit ashamed, came up with the idea of a lead-in show that also has a mostly non-white cast of characters and, you know, has sizzle.
"Life. Death. Miami." That's the tag line for Rosewood and the show is better summarized, after viewing, as: "Lifeless. Dead-boring. Miami."
Our hero is Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr. (Morris Chestnut), who is a "private pathologist" and consultant on the murder cases worked by the plodding members of the Miami Police Department – who loathe him as a know-it-all smoothie. He is, of course, brilliant in a Dr. House kind of way.
In the opening episode, he forces his way into a murder case handled by new detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz). The first thing you notice about Det. Villa, as you are meant to, is her fondness for tight tank tops. This fondness is explained, partly, by the Miami setting, but mainly by the director's need to have the camera gawp at her bosom. She's Latin; she's hot under all that seriousness. You can put two and two together, and if you can't the camera work will helpfully do the work for you.
Dr. Rosewood and Det. Villa engage in what is meant to pass for flirtatious banter. For instance, Villa says to Rosewood, "You're just a huge pain in my ass." And Rosewood replies, "Get used to it!" What woman could resist, I ask you?
Turns out our hero is no arrogant jackass. Nope. He's got a heart condition, see, and could pop off this mortal coil at any moment. In explaining this, he intones, "Death has never been my obsession. My obsession is with every breath I take."
This state of affairs, we are informed, has led to his sunny, driven disposition and irregular bouts of sensitivity. Obviously if there's one thing a lady cop in a tight tank top will fall for, it's a guy with a heart condition.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First the doctor and the cop must bond. And bond over a dead, white, blond, young woman. The victim is presented to us, dead and near-naked, on an examining table, so often that even viewers with a tolerance for such things will blush scarlet with embarrassment.
Helping Dr. Rosewood in examinations of the dead young woman is his sister, who, as it happens, is a lesbian. And not only that, she's engaged to Rosewood's other assistant, who is white and a bit ditzy. Their lovey-dovey banter at the office has the pure poetry of a dollar-store Valentine's card.
And then there are scenes that are meant to move the sluggish plot along. These feature visits to criminals who always happen to be throwing a pool party. Hence, young women in bikinis are seen to frolic. Like, more women in bikinis than you can count. It would be hard to count though, because they're all dancing, and, as in the normal course of such events, much jiggling ensues. Perhaps some viewers will count to pass the time till Empire starts.
A climax of sorts is reached long before the murderer is caught. It's when one of the criminals, a thrower of pool parties, gets exasperated. He complains that "the fuzz" are "all over him." His main point is explained thusly: "I got a wife and kids and a chick on the side to think about."
We all have our problems. Fox's problem is finding something to prop up Empire. Rosewood is it, for now. A show so bad you feel really, really sorry for it.