TV Review: The First Half of True Detective (SPOILERS)

February 12, 2014 Jim Lazor No Comments

I’m not as well-versed in writing about True Detective as my fellow blogger Shane, but I’ll give it a whirl. Warning: spoilers.

Every once in a while, a TV show comes along that’s a total game changer. We’ve seen this a lot in recent years, as TV’s “Golden Age” gave us shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Breaking Bad. Some of these groundbreaking shows change the ways that we look at television, and some even have the potential to change the way we look at the world. Although it’s only had four episodes so far, I believe that True Detective is one of these shows.

Essentially, True Detective has set itself up to be one of the most interesting experiments in TV history. After all, stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are only on the show for one season. Eight episodes. That’s it. After these eight episodes, the show can go in any direction without ruining continuity, angering fans, etc. It’s shaping up to be an even more popular and far more critically acclaimed anthology style than American Horror Story (which gets good numbers but mixed reviews). Grantland.com has already published a short piece on the Grantland staff’s predictions for what pair of famous actors will appear in True Detective Season 2. So, in theory, True Detective could run for years and potentially never get old. If, for some reason, a character runs dry and becomes boring, fans will only have to wait for a few episodes to be supplied with a totally new premise and set of characters.

However intriguing the future of True Detective may be, let’s talk about just how great the show is now. Especially after last Sunday’s episode, entitled “Who Goes There.” All the tension building from the first three and a half hours of True Detective culminated in an utterly explosive thirty minutes, in which Rust Cohle’s actions basically silenced every critic that said the show was too slow-paced. Rarely, if ever, does a plot of a TV episode come that far out of left field and still satisfy its audience. After watching the first three episodes, I never would have guessed that the fourth would end with a drug-induced Rust Cohle infiltrating a motorcycle gang, joining them for a robbery, and then kidnapping the leader of said motorcycle gang. And yet, here we are. This brings me to what I believe to be the most important topic of conversation about this show: the performances.

First of all, Matthew McConaughey. Enough said. The man’s been on one of the most incredible acting streaks I’ve ever seen, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down, especially with his newly announced role in Gus Van Sant’s upcoming Sea of Trees (side note: if McConaughey doesn’t win the Oscar next month, I’ll be absolutely livid). McConaughey brings a restrained ferocity and complexity to the character of Rust, who’s absolutely fascinating to watch. And then there’s Woody Harrelson, who holds his own (and then some) against the red-hot McConaughey. As Marty Hart, Harrelson conveys the aura of a man who’s a “regular guy” on the surface, but with hidden demons that rival Cohle’s. When these two fantastic characters and even more fantastic actors come together and clash, sparks fly. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I don’t really care about Hart and Cohle catching the killer. I’m content with listening to their banter. Perhaps my only criticism of the show is that it’s not really doing too much with the other characters. It honestly seems like Hart and Cohle are the only two that matter. But maybe that’s the point. And given how riveting they are to watch, it might not be such a bad thing.

True Detective is also doing some really awesome things with cinematography and style. Since the dawn of Breaking Bad, television now has the potential to be just as cinematic as film, not just character-wise, but stylistically as well. True Detective does some amazing things with cinematography and editing; I’d try to explain it, but I fear I wouldn’t do it justice. Just watch it. That’s the overall message I am trying to convey here. I feel confident saying that True Detective is not something to be missed. Watch it. You won’t regret it.


Author: Jim Lazor
Jim is a sophomore studying Film & Television at Boston University's College of Communication. He is originally from Washington, DC and grew up in Monroe, Connecticut. His favorite films are Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, Casablanca, Good Will Hunting, and the Shawshank Redemption, and his favorite shows are Breaking Bad, The Wire, and The Sopranos. When Jim is not working, studying, or watching movies, he enjoys reading, listening to music, and exploring the city of Boston.

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