Rosewood is so generic it does a loop-de-loop all the way through inadvertent self-parody, landing back on mere mediocrity again. It’s another series about a hotshot something-or-other who plays by his own rules, driven by internal demons that conveniently reaffirm the show’s conventional thematic, which involves the usual, disingenuous platitudes about the importance of human relationships over distancing perfectionism.
Dr. Beaumont Rosewood Jr. (Morris Chestnut) is a private pathologist, a regular consultant on the murder cases worked by the Miami Police Department (which, of course, is lost without him), but he’s really a mixture of Dr. House and the sort of charming, glad-handing smoothie Dwayne Johnson usually plays. Rosewood has House’s intellectual acumen and Johnson’s extroversion, eagerness to please, and boldly fluorescent fashion sense. In this whodunit context, it’s the eagerness to please that’s most distinctive. Unlike House or any of the fictional misanthropes he’s inspired in his wake, Rosewood is meant to be conventionally likable, and Chestnut’s more than up to fulfilling that ambition. But the charisma Chestnut has reliably brought to films in the past is washed away by the strain he shows in attempting to breathe life into his terrible one-liners, which suggest placeholders for dialogue-yet-to-be-penned.
Chestnut and his co-stars work at achieving an embarrassingly self-conscious and contrived breeziness, to the point that you feel badly for them because no one could sell this shopworn material. Rosewood strikes up an obligatory flirtation with the new detective on the block, Annalise Villa (Jaina Lee Ortiz), the two resorting to the sort of sexualized odd-couple banter that’s so derivative as to have already been mercilessly lampooned by Key & Peele dozens of times. Annalise tells Rosewood that he “has a love affair with death,” and he smirks before filling her in with his backstory, which happens just a few minutes after she’s regaled him with a portion of her own stock history. Eventually, Rosewood and Annalise’s prodding into one another’s exceptionally unexceptional pasts yields a true howler: “When you lose the love of your life, it makes you love life less.”
The murder mystery that Rosewood and Annalise solve in the pilot is so predictable that you may struggle to retain the particulars over the duration of the commercials. Dead attractive white girl with a seedy secret. Check. Said secret involves misadvised connections with non-white dudes. Check. The first suspect’s a red herring. Check. The second suspect’s actually a second victim. Check. The third suspect’s the killer because the show’s almost over. Checkmate. In fairness, the pilot was the only episode of Rosewood that was screened for press, and these buddy procedurals often take a little time to burn through their robotic exposition (though House M.D.’s series premiere is one of the best episodes of its entire run). But there isn’t a single strand of authentic personality to be found so far here. Every character, plot beat, and line of dialogue is clearly preordained by the hundreds of similar shows that have preceded Rosewood, and that have often immediately faded into the noisy, nighttime-TV woodwork.