What’s a Boring Series Like ‘Rosewood’ Doing on an Ambitious Network Like Fox?

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There is a running joke in Season 2 of BoJack Horseman about Wanda, an owl who is the head of programming at a television network and recently woke up from a 30-year-long coma. Upon awakening, she pitches “really fresh” ideas like a Kirk Cameron show and Hey, I Think You Can Dance. Wanda is the only TV executive who would greenlight Rosewood — well, apparently, Wanda and everyone at Fox.

There is nothing especially bad about Rosewood, but there’s certainly nothing new about it, either. It is a basic carbon copy of every background-viewing procedural involving two mismatched, opposite-gender, dueling personalities who solve crimes. It’s Psych/ Bones/Castle/The Mentalist, but with Morris Chestnut as a private pathologist (drink every time they say “pathologist”). It is one of those series that is set up to last forever, to keep plodding along with mediocre, overdone case-of-the-week episodes and, once in a while, a two-parter or a cliffhanger with no real tension.

Chestnut plays Beaumont Rosewood Jr., a pathologist for hire and a big fan of advertising on giant billboards all around Miami. He’s charming yet slightly condescending (because he’s a leading man in a by-the-book procedural), but the only person who really calls him out on that is the hot and sassy detective Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz). She rolls her eyes at his overly familiar and flirtatious banter but doesn’t get too angry because, again, he’s charming enough to get away with whatever he wants. I mean, you’ve seen this dynamic before, right? We all have.

The pilot episode sets up the basic formula and the not-so-witty banter that will dominate the whole series. Rosewood takes it upon himself to help Villa on a murder case — he has to get to know all the detectives so he can continue to find work, and she’s relatively new to the area — even though she doesn’t want him to. But, of course, she acquiesces because he has a great smile and he’s so good at his job. After all, Rosewood says, he’s the “Beethoven of private pathologists.” Rosewood doesn’t just need the money, though; the series also has to set up the inevitable romance between the two — Season 6 wedding event! Perhaps with a Miami drug cartel case breaking up the ceremony and putting one of their lives in danger just in time for sweeps week.

Morris Chestnut as Beaumont Rosewood, Jr. and Jaina Lee Ortiz as Detective Villa. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jeff Daly/FOX.

Rosewood does employ one slight twist to set the series apart from other shows of the same ilk. Rosewood has a preoccupation with death because he has multiple mysterious illnesses that have plagued him since birth, resulting in a scar on Chestnut’s perfect abs, as well as the need for regular injections. This is supposed to provide some character development, to show why Rosewood is so obsessed with death — others’ and his own — and why his personality is the way it is, but instead it comes off as a cheap dramatic stunt, calculated to bring life (no pun intended) to an otherwise drab series. But it doesn’t exactly work; we already know that Rosewood is not going to die, so there aren’t any inherent dramatic stakes in this revelation, other than a future episode wherein he’s randomly hospitalized or collapses on the job.

Despite the fact that Fox is also home to Bones, Rosewood feels out of place on the network. Fox has been committed to strong, funny sitcoms (New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and engaging, addictive dramas (Empire, Sleepy Hollow) — and its future is stocked with sequels to previously popular series (The X-Files, Prison Break). Rosewood feels too bland and too forgettable to exist on a network that’s becoming exciting again.

None of this really matters, though, because Rosewood is a light dramatic procedural that is designed to last for years. It’s a “laundry-folding” series that requires little attention from viewers; it’s a series to keep on in the background but never fully commit to because it’s not worth any deeper engagement. It could last one season or more than five; there will be no in between.

Rosewood premieres Wednesday, September 23 at 8 PM on Fox.