When the first season of "Bosch" debuts Friday on Amazon, it will be an achievement 20 years in the making for Michael Connelly, the author of the popular crime novel series centering on Los Angeles Police Detective Harry Bosch. For the online retailer that first ventured into original programming five years ago, it will serve as the rising content provider's latest test.
"It's certainly been long awaited by the Bosch fans," said Titus Welliver, the veteran actor of "Lost" and "The Good Wife" fame who portrays the rule-breaking sleuth. "There's a tremendous amount of excitement and support coming from them. I feel strongly about what we've accomplished, as far as satiating the appetite of the fans. They're going to be happy."
Connelly originally sold the rights to his gritty novels back in 1995 to Paramount. A proposed series of films languished in development, and they were never made. While the character first introduced in 1992's "The Black Echo" lived on in print, Connelly wasn't able to reclaim the screen rights to Bosch until 2010. When he did, a Bosch movie no longer seemed apropos.
"The world had changed," acknowledged Connelly. "We're now in a golden age of this kind of serialized storytelling. It worked well with what I had. I was sitting there with 15 books, and a two-hour movie wasn't going to cut it. I didn't even consider going back to Hollywood to get a movie going again. I thought we needed 50 or 60 hours to do this character justice."
Amazon, the world's largest book seller, swooped in when Connelly was shopping a potential TV series. He signed on as an executive producer and enlisted Eric Overmyer, who previously worked on "The Wire," to bring Bosch to life, a daunting task considering Bosch's history now spans 17 novels. (The latest one, "The Burning Room," was released last year.)
The show — Amazon's first drama — is arriving after the studio has gained acclaim for the comedies "Alpha House," ''Mozart in the Jungle" and "Transparent," which was recently honored with a Directors Guild Award and a pair of Golden Globes. However, "Bosch" has a more conventional approach than those shows — a notion that doesn't bother Connelly.
"My goal was to be loyal to the character and to be loyal to the Los Angeles of the books," said Connelly. "It is a familiar archetype. There's no doubt about it, but there are unique aspects. From the point of view of Amazon, they call themselves the 'everything' store, so when it comes to Amazon programming, they want to have something for everyone."
For the most part, "Bosch" stays true to Connelly's written words, except Welliver's Bosch is younger, a veteran of the first Iraq War instead of the Vietnam War. Also, the first season's ongoing mystery and plots are drawn from the novels "The Concrete Blonde," ''City of Bones" and "Echo Park," which aren't chronologically connected throughout the book series.
With so much more source material left on his shelves, Connelly said the TV version of "Bosch" could run for several years if Amazon Prime subscribers respond well to the live-action interpretation of the dogged detective and the mysteries he solves throughout a divided Los Angeles. Welliver is game.
"With this character, I feel like there are so many great stories," he said. "It's just a question as we proceed which books we cull from each season. I'd love to realize Harry from 'The Burning Room.' I love that book. We see Harry at the end of his career ushering in and mentoring a much younger cop. I'm definitely interested in what the next steps are for Harry."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.