True Detective: Season 1 (2014) – TV Review

True Detective

American television’s industrious big hitter HBO releases its latest instalment with euphoric reception. Its outlandish rave reviews and undying critical support plead the question, is it ‘true’ perfection?

Yet another variation of an already over-subscribed genre sees Hollywood veteran Woody Harrelson and Academy Award man of the moment Matthew McConaughey grace the small screen in a crime drama set in the sleepy community of Louisiana. The two contrasting personalities are drafted together in order to work on an unusual murder mystery that unbeknownst to them would span over seventeen years with consuming and catastrophic effects on their personal lives. Spiritually enthused Rust Cohle (McConaughey) clashes in a beautifully scratchy relationship with traditionalist Marty Hart (Harrelson), as their investigations coincide with their quest for understanding consciousness and their purpose in a life of disarray and bewilderment. Nic Pizzolatto the series creator born and bred in Louisiana, provides a flawless understanding of the area the characters must explore and envisages a script of profound poetics and engaging attention to detail. He furthermore draws on the greatest qualities of the duo in creating protagonists that go against the heroism of the archetypal detective. The supporting cast are all textbook characters of a twisted disposition and Cary Joji Fukunaga’s masterful direction depicts a Southern Gothic underworld that evokes a true notion of evil in the darkest nether regions of humanity. He utilises symbolism and camera angles with enriched simplicity and grace of which constantly unravel the story in a manner unlike its rivals.

Weaving in between multiple timelines, the detectives are under investigation in the present day for their involvement in the case and their own description of events transports the audience back to the back to the action. There are many elements within the series that would be classed as experimentation within the saturated genre and this is what is so lauded by many. Slow, deliberate build-up for moments such as one long take shootouts, Cohle’s synaesthesia delusions and violent confrontations between the detectives all produce ultimately, something different. For me the overriding factor that sets “True Detective” apart is the confidence to remove necessity for mechanical climactic chases in each episode and instead document a natural progression towards discovery. The fifty five minute run time echoes the density of the script and thought behind each episode, a huge complaint I have with excessively long shows such as ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘Game of Thrones’.

The resultant product one could describe as an art house approach to modern television and despite my enjoyment, the only criticism I can give it is that I do not think it will appeal to the masses. I cannot recommend it to everyone and I think this could be seen by many as boring in comparison to the already biblically successful ‘Breaking Bad’. Perfection, everyone has to appreciate and therefore there is work to be done by these new pioneers of the neo noir. McConaughey has already distanced himself from the second series and two new female actors are rumoured to be on the books. This is yet another innovative decision by Pizzolatto and his team certainly have all of the potential and all of the power.

IMDB Rating: 9.5

My Rating: 8

Max Hilton



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