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Amazon’s Difficult Case: A Showrunner Switch

Off-kilter cop series Bosch is Amazon’s longest-running original drama, but the show is up against a bit of a challenge as it welcomes in a new showrunner. Eric Overmyer held the title for seasons one through three—season three premieres April 21—but has taken on showrunner duties at Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, which had some challenges of its own when top dog Frank Spotnitz left the show last spring. Overmyer brought Bosch, based on the Michael Connelly novels about a brooding Los Angeles detective, to television. He’ll stay on Bosch as an executive producer.

Taking on the showrunner role is Daniel Pyne, who joined Bosch in season three after a background in films. The show features seven writers and producers.

“Changing showrunners is difficult for any show,” said Joe Lewis, head of comedy, drama and VR, Amazon Studios, who singles out Connelly as Bosch’s “ultimate creative north star.”

Lewis says it’s impossible that anyone knows Harry Bosch better than the novelist. “Having [Connelly’s] brilliance in working on the series in the present, and having the benefit of working from his great books in the past, has made the transition happen smoothly,” he said.

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Authors can often be minor players in an adapted show’s production. Not at Bosch. “Mike is in the room with us,” said Pyne, “breaking the story and figuring out the crime and the clues and how things unfold.”

Letting Harry Be Harry

Season three will see some of the characters surrounding Bosch get more of a close-up, including the detective played by Jamie Hector, who was drug lord Marlo Stanfield on The Wire. “We’ll just let Harry be Harry,” said Henrik Baskin, executive producer. (Baskin is such a fan of Connelly’s books that his eight-year-old son is named Harry.)

To be sure, Bosch will get some funky curves to contend with as well. For one, his teenage daughter will be around. “It’s an opportunity to see a different side of him,” said Pyne. “He doesn’t share a lot.”

Indeed, Bosch, played by Titus Welliver, is an unlikely leading guy, running afoul of most everyone he encounters. The books, and series, are also appreciated for showing a side of Los Angeles that other creative works don’t visit much. “It’s not the Hollywood sign, it’s confusion in Koreatown,” said Baskin.

Baskin says the brain trust at Bosch are fans of old-school police dramas such as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, which offer a different vibe than today’s shows. “Most cop shows are procedurals,” he said. “We do slow burn. It’s also about character.”

As he prepares to run the show, Pyne is mindful about helming Amazon’s first original drama. That will help keep season four fresh. “We feel a certain amount of responsibility at minimum to build on what we’ve done before,” he said.

No one is quite sure how many seasons Bosch will reach, but Lewis appears quite happy with the product, which also sells a few books for Amazon. “Bosch,” he said, “is full of characters and stories that can be dug into over a long period of time—on a large canvas.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.