Rizzoli & Isles Series: When my favorite author’s book comes to life. Book Vs Series

Tess Gerritsen is my favorite author for a number of reasons. When I heard years ago that they were going to make a series based on her medical thrillers, I got really excited. But I didn’t watch it.

The series isn’t it available here in our country. I could watch it through the net but I wanted it to progress to a few seasons first. A good sign that a series is any good is that it advances to a few seasons. At least 3 seasons was my quota. I am a bit critical because after all, this is based on the work of my favorite author.

The series is now 3 seasons down going for a 4th so I decided to finally start watching. But honestly it wasn’t because of this that I decided to start watching. It was because of Castle’s 5th season ending. Castle was the only series I was following and since the season ended and it would be quite some time before the 6th season would start, I was left with nothing to watch. Then I remembered this series, looked it up on google and decided it was time I started on it.

Thoughts on the first 2 episodes:

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I lied. I ended up watching two episodes yesterday instead of my intended one. I couldn’t help it! I guess I really enjoyed it then…

The first episode was based on Tess Gerritsen’s “The Apprentice” which is the second book featuring the Rizzoli and Isles duo. I was expecting they’d start on the first book “The Surgeon” because it would make more sense. Since they started on the second book, they had to add some flash backs to give the viewers who haven’t read the book some idea on what’s going on.

The hour long episode didn’t feel enough for me to cover everything up. Somehow I wish they just made a movie out of it or broke it down to 2 or 3 episodes instead of squeezing it into one. Or they could’ve added it as a side story for a few episodes to give the series a darker feel. I doubt that’s what they wanted to happen though. The series didn’t feel as dark as I expected it to be.

But hey, it was still fine anyway. They got to cover most of what’s important. They even got some lines from the book that I loved. I just wonder if those who haven’t read the book didn’t have difficulties on grasping what was going on.

The second episode had started to deviate from the books somewhat. I do expect this to happen and glad that it did because then they’d run out of books to base on. I’m fine with it as long as they stay true with the characters. It would be nice if some episodes would base on the books now and then.

The thing with this series is that I don’t think it would be like any of those detective stories where it’s focused on the case and who-done-it details. It doesn’t feel like it would be like Castle and definitely not like CSI. It feels to me like it revolves more on the interactions between the characters. It’s like a detective version of Grey’s Anatomy. Then again, I’ve only watched 2 episodes so far and I don’t really watch that many series for me to actually say much on that. Just a thought.

The books being a medical thriller made me expect that the series would be on the darker side. Unfortunately it isn’t. It has  a lot of humor injected into it. More so that the series can’t possibly be dropped in the medical thriller genre at all. It’s either that or I have a sick sense of humor.

How the duo was played; Book Vs Series

Edmund Wilson said that “No two persons ever read the same book.” How I pictured Rizzoli and Isles was definitely not 99% or even 95% how the director and actors of the series pictured them. So I’ll point out what those differences are.

Detective Jane Rizzoli
I expected her to be a bit shorter than average, boyish, long black frizzy hair, tough cop. Played by Angie Harmon in the series, I think they nailed her look and attitude the way I pictured her to be. She even sounded like the Rizzoli in my head when I was reading the book! The only thing they didn’t get right was the height but that doesn’t really matter much. I did expect her hair to be more frizzy though but I’ll see what happens as the story progresses.


Angie Harmon as detective Jane Rizzoli

Dr. Maura Isles
I have mixed feelings on how she’s portrayed in the series. Dr. Isles is my favorite character in the books. She is dubbed “Queen of the Dead” for reasons that she is sporting a gothic look and cool demeanor while being their chief medical examiner. I’ll quote how the book described her:

A strikingly pale woman with a slash of red lipstick, shoulder-length raven hair with blunt bangs, and an attitude of cool imperviousness.

Here’s more:

The press loved her. Defense attorneys dreaded her. And homicide cops were both spooked and fascinated by this woman who’d chosen to spend her days in communion with the dead.

That is a description of a woman who deserves to be called “Queen of the Dead”. Now does this look like the queen of the dead to you?


Sasha Alexander as Dr. Maura Isles

I’m not undermining Sasha Alexander who plays her role. She’s a good actress at her own right. I just don’t think this is what Dr. Maura Isles is suppose to look or act like. The series made Dr. Isles the humor center of the show D:

I can’t really write what exactly I want to express here so just go watch at least one episode of the series and see if the description of Dr. Isles in the series would fit that of the book.

But somehow the series’ version of Dr. Isles worked I guess. She was fun, gave the show some laughs, and the personality they had her act out fitted more to the not-mystery-thriller-genre version. I just pegged this Dr. Isles as a Maura, which Rizzoli keeps calling her in the series, instead of the Dr. Isles, which the book’s Rizzoli would call her. The book’s version does call her Maura occasionally.

In other words, the series shows a Maura while the book shows a Dr. Isles. If that doesn’t make sense to you, well it makes sense to me.

Rizzoli and Isles as a duo
Right from the beginning of the series, Rizzoli and Isles are really close friends if not best friends. The book however doesn’t show that.


In the book, Rizzoli and Dr. Isles had a slowly developing friendship with one acknowledging the other out of respect with how they do their jobs. They have this unsaid friendship that came with the job and grew closer due to the fact that they were the only women in their group and were the best at what they do. Despite their growing friendship, books later, they still had some awkward moments. Their friendship develops slowly because Dr. Isles is a bit of a loner and Rizzoli has problems with expressing emotion which to the men in the homicide department would consider as weakness. Weakness was something Rizzoli could not afford to show if she wanted to stay top dog in her department so she keeps her emotions in check and her walls up.

In contrast, the series started off with Rizzoli and Maura as really close friends if not best friends right off the bat. As someone who read the books, I found this very odd. But again, it still worked. I guess it made things easier if they were best friends because that made the duo a duo in the series. I wish they’d show how they ended up as best friends though.

Last Thoughts
I love how dark the book can get but somehow, I also enjoyed the humor the series has turned out. The best way to enjoy a series, or a  movie, that’s based on a book is to simply separate the book and the series/movie. If you can. Complaining about the differences won’t change anything so might as well enjoy both. Again, if you can.

What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Rizzoli & Isles Series: When my favorite author’s book comes to life. Book Vs Series

    • I am still disappointed that they didn’t stick to the book’s version of Dr. Maura Isles. However, the series’ version is also an enjoyable one. In fact, all the characters are. Even Hoyt! Then again, I’ve always liked his character eve in the books.

      I just finished watching the 1st season and would soon start on the 2nd. Currently writing what I thought about it so check back some time. 🙂


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