The show's marketing looked exceptional, and I was excited to watch an episode. Turns out I couldn't even make it through one, and I tried three different times.
The show "borrows" a lot of elements from a show I really did like, "Crossing Jordan". These elements include the Celtic-inspired opening theme, the setting in Boston, and a somewhat belligerent female Medical Examiner who works with a police detective to help solve unusual, engaging crimes. Angie Harmon bears a striking similarity to Jill Hennessy. When you start to see the overwhelmingly-derivative similarities, it's almost insulting.
The show also tries to use a lot of "Bones"-like casting and dialogue - relying on Isles' socially awkward, overly technical explanations, yet lacking the craft, intelligence, and endearing nature of Temperance Brennan on "Bones". The "police" side of the equation, played by Angie Harmon as Rizzoli, is equally artless. The characters seem to convey little emotion or depth, reciting lines and awkward one-liners but in a way that doesn't seem to make you more attracted to them or charmed by their ways.
However, unlike "Crossing Jordan" and "Bones", the main characters are simply unlikable. They are obnoxious, hateful, and know-it-alls. The attempts at Isles' overly technical, socially awkward explanations are NOT endearing, they're frustrating. She's clearly trying too hard. They act like two know-it-alls, and yet their dialogue rarely gets beyond extremely basic medical and forensic terminology.
The season 2 finale, which I just watched, saw a know-it-all Isles states early in the episode that a piece of equipment "measures R.E.M.", and then pausing and smugly clarifying: "Rapid Eye Movement." Do they really question our intelligence that much? Are we supposed to be convinced by characters' expertise who can't even handle that kind of basic terminology? And if so, why wouldn't the character say the more common terminology and then explain? Bungling dialogue like this paints the characters as smug and elitist, and does nothing to advance the character development or make you more interested in the "chemistry" that so many have alluded to.
Beyond that, the ways in which the information is presented are maddening. It's obnoxious how the overly-basic suggestions by secondary characters are used to help seal the characters' reasoning. It's a poorly-done procedural, and lacks the artfulness of something like "Law and Order" or, honestly, most shows in the genre. This show, in particular, seems to cater to a less-informed audience and the writers seem not to have the same understanding of those of much more well-reviewed crime programs.
Both characters come across as abusive and hateful, and with an unjustified anger and arrogance that presses everyone's ability to suspend disbelief.
The bottom line: I'm not interested in the "chemistry" between two one-dimensional, unlikable characters. I'm not interested in their blundering, uninformed mishaps, and don't appreciate drama based on wrongheaded characters making easily avoidable mistakes.
I enjoy this genre of television. I've actively followed Bones, Crossing Jordan, The Wire, Dexter, and Criminal Minds. On the non-fiction side, I've been fascinated by Forensic Files and American Justice for years. Nothing compares to a well-done, scientifically-based detective show. Unfortunately, Rizzoli and Isles is not that, and seems to be a re-hashing of previously explored territory that contributes nothing new or exceptional to the television landscape. Avoid this show, and watch the others I mentioned earlier in this paragraph instead.