'The Slap' is too arty, but 'Bosch' is tough enough

Titus Welliver, right, is Harry Bosch and Jamie Hector is Jerry Edgar in "Bosch," which is ideally suited to binge-watching. (Amazon Prime)

NBC has tagged The Slap "an event series." That means it's fancy, with a boutique cast (Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman, and Thandie Newton, among others), setting (nouveau Brooklyn), and issue (an adult striking a child in public).

What The Slap (8 p.m. Thursday) is not is original. Its eight-episode arc is closely patterned on an Australian series of the same title. Melissa George reprises her role as Rosie, the agitated and aggrieved mother of the boy who gets hit at a backyard barbecue. George won a best actress Logie, the Down Under Emmy, for her work.

The guy who does the hitting is Harry (Zachary Quinto), an entitled hothead with a hair-trigger temper. Rosie's crazily cossetted kid is totally asking for it. And that seems to be the through-line in The Slap, as the incident shreds a circle of family and friends: Everybody is right, and everybody is wrong.

What The Slap also is decidedly not is a sensible lead-in to The Blacklist, which now will follow it on the NBC schedule.

No question, this is a high-quality production with a fine cast that includes Marin Ireland, Brian Cox, Thomas Sadoski, Michael Nouri, and Penn Badgley. But it's also terribly stagey and saddled with a pretentious voice-over by Victor Garber ("His reverie shattered, Hector took solace in the clarity of his life's limits").

Reminiscent of arty pay-cable series such as In Treatment and The Affair, The Slap is refined fare, but wedged into NBC's pulpy Thursday lineup, it stands out like a woven tapestry hanging in a cartoon gallery.

Bosch (available for download Friday on Amazon) also lies somewhat off the beaten TV path, but in a thrilling way.

The fact is, despite the proliferation of prime-time shamuses we've had over the years, television has never been good at recreating the rhythms and textures of a good detective novel.

This, though, is a perfect rendering of Michael Connelly's popular series of novels featuring hard-bitten L.A.P.D. detective Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch.

All the trademark elements are here: the blanched Los Angeles settings, the cool jazz score, the laconic paladin - a tough guy with a code.

Titus Welliver has always been a TV star waiting for the right vehicle. After near misses in series such as Brooklyn South, Deadwood, and Lost, he finally grabs the ring as Connelly's pit bull of a protagonist. This is a powerhouse performance, particularly given how much of it is nonverbal.

But then, Bosch gives fresh life to a whole host of familiar TV actors, including Jamie Hector, Amy Aquino, Lance Reddick, Annie Wersching, Abraham Benrubi, Mimi Rogers, Alan Rosenberg, Mark Darwin, Mary Page Keller, and Steven Culp.

Wait until you see Jason Gedrick. Remember him as the degenerate gambler in HBO's Luck? Well, he's becoming more and more interesting as an actor the further he slides down the depravity scale. Bosch takes Gedrick as far as he can get from his pretty-boy roots.

Even the stock characters - such as the comic-relief detective partners referred to as Crate and Barrel (Gregory Scott Cummins and Troy Evans) - have unexpected dimensions.

The series weaves together the plots of The Concrete Blonde and City Of Bones. Harry Bosch is on trial in a wrongful-death suit brought by the widow of a suspected serial killer. At the same time, he is doggedly pursuing a case involving the remains of a severely abused 12-year-old boy found in Laurel Canyon.

Both Harry's life and his work are messy and complicated. The series lets both aspects breathe, without pushing for neat resolutions.

Because Bosch is more serial than episodic, its 10 episodes are ideally suited to binge-watching on Amazon. Befitting Connelly, this is the streaming equivalent of a book you can't put down.


The Slap

Premieres 8 p.m. Thursday on NBC10.


Available Friday for download at www.Amazon.com.


215-854-4875 @daveondemand_tv