After many successful, or accurately classic, works such as the groundbreaking I Spy (1965), and the long-lived The Cosby Show (1984), Bill Cosby at the age of 57 wanted to change over. It was a good move to do a Mystery show, portraying Guy Hanks the criminologist who works for the New York Police Department, solving crimes with the power of scientific logic, and his sharp brilliance. Here, Cosby is a bit serious, walking sullen, looking sedate, with dark suits, dark briefcase and a long coat on his arm.
However, the atmosphere wasn't that thrilling, the directing handled the job so moderately without being attractively elegant or even harshly realistic, and it bothered me the most to see such a forced laughing scene at the end of every episode as totally out of the mood and unnecessary reminder that we're watching "Mr. Bill Cosby Ladies and Gentlemen".. That was silly !
Though, the supporting cast was fantastic and funny enough. I recall the young Mos Def, and the beautifully crazy Rita Moreno who nearly has been cursed by the Oscar after winning it for her performance in West Side Story back in 1961 ! This truly talented woman was a dazzling reason to set and watch the show, I was craving to her moments as a noisy yet kind and gleeful Spanish woman (watch how she expresses herself sometimes in singing !).
It was about time to watch the criminologist, the coroner, or rather the forensic doctor as the lead of the TV shows, especially after the mass success of The X Files, one year earlier, with a character of a medical doctor who works as FBI investigator. Sorrowfully, in no time, this kind of shows would swell, become wild, and eat up all the other shows with the ruthless onslaught of CSI (2000), Law & Order Criminal Intent (2001), Crossing Jordan (2001), CSI Miami (2002), NCIS (2003), CSI NY (2004), Medical Investigation (2004), Bones (2005), and Dexter (2006), being the 2000s marked fashion to a frightful extent, that left nearly nothing different to be watched !
Still (The Cosby Mysteries) is a sort of lovely innocent memory amongst these freak shows, away from being nasty or violent as most of them. But something was wrong. Whether that the audience didn't accept this staid persona for their comic star, or that the episodes didn't present what could exceed or stand alone, or maybe the personality of the whole series was little evasive since it's not a comedy, and not wholly crime as well.
It pushes me to recall when Raymond Burr achieved a marvelous success with 2 TV hits on a row Perry Mason (1957) and Ironside (1967) then made Kingston Confidential (1976) to meet his first 13 episode series ! This time, his fellow Cosby made 19 episodes of his Mysteries. To return again, right in the next year, to be the good old Bill Cosby in the new Cosby show, which lasted for 4 seasons, 93 episodes.
Overall, this Mysteries was between all right and so-so. And it's surely better than today's ugly shows of the same subject. Yet, while I really see it as better than CSI, I had to apologize to its makers since, naturally, anything is better than CSI !