Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector is saddled with an awful title and so-so source material, but it’s a decent adaptation for NBC.
This review of Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector is based on the first two episodes, “Pilot” and “God Complex”. Weekly recaps will continue henceforth.
Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme novels, about a paraplegic forensic savant and his hot petrolhead girlfriend, are well-suited to adaptations; they’re basically a network procedural in book form, with each installment bringing a new case but more or less the same status quo. NBC’s new show, the awfully titled Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, is adapted from the first of them, titled simply The Bone Collector, which has previously been turned into a movie that starred Denzel Washington. Like that movie, this new show works on the strength of its unconventional lead, recast as an acerbic Russell Hornsby, and his relationship with gorgeous aspiring profiler Amelia Sachs (Arielle Kebbel). It doesn’t reinvent the wheelchair, but it does a decent enough job of blending a procedural with an on-going hunt for a notorious serial killer.
Here, the eponymous Bone Collector was responsible for the crime-scene accident that stole from the egocentric Rhyme the use of his entire body. Three years later, he’s bedbound but spurred back into action when NYPD rookie Amelia stumbles on a staged killing that strongly resembles one of the Bone Collector’s elaborate crimes. With the aid of fancy technology, Amelia as his eyes and ears, former partner Selitto (Michael Imperioli) and no-nonsense caregiver Claire (Roslyn Ruff), Rhyme gets back on the trail of his old nemesis while also thwarting would-be criminals in the meantime.
It’s a workable setup, and Hornsby (of Seven Seconds and The Hate U Give fame) is a solid choice for Lincoln, even if the pilot episode spends much too long on flashbacks to his time as an able-bodied up-and-comer, which actually saps some of his originality. The writing, too, is functional rather than illuminating, doing little to put across much of Lincoln’s personality beyond his egocentrism and obvious, understandable crankiness. In the books, Lincoln’s relationships with Amelia, Selitto, his caregiver (Thom on the page) and a bumbling patrolman named Ron Pulaski, are actually quite complex; here, at least so far, they’re thin and a bit cliched, which will hopefully be rectified as the show goes on.
Something else I’d like to see less of are the visual flourishes, intended to make clearer how Lincoln’s extraordinary mind works, but they’re so similar to various adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, a namechecked inspiration, that they’re more distracting than anything, and their function could just as easily be put across with better dialogue. Lazy use is also made of Amelia’s sister (Courtney Grosbeck) in order to raise the dramatic stakes, but she’s much more a useful crutch than a fully-formed character. Still, nitpicks aside, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector does a decent job of establishing itself as solid weekly entertainment for NBC, assuming its clumsy title hasn’t put a potential audience off completely.