Review of "True Detctive" on HBO From The TV MegaSite

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"True Detective" review by Sundi 1/8/14
Airs Sundays 9pm on HBO

It’s brilliant. The end.

But seriously, this show is amazing… and I’ve only seen one episode. Number two is coming this week, and I am currently standing by the mailbox waiting. Executive produced by and starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey (who is having an INCREDIBLE year, by the way), this show is a murder mystery in which the investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from Detectives Martin Hart (Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (McConnaughey) in 2012, when the case has been reopened. While this may sound like every other new crime drama out this year, it’s not. True Detective has a methodical pacing that hypnotizes you like a metronome, yet some of its most critical and important plot points are evasive and cryptic as hell. Its a remarkable combination that feels immaculate and organic all at once. The first episode, The Long Bright Dark, splits it time between 1995, when the original crime occurred, and 2012 in which the detectives are much older and reflective about their time on the case. The foreboding is palpable as both detectives are interviewed by detectives investigating a new crime, seemingly related to the case they worked seventeen years earlier.

Harrelson plays against type with the character of Marty Hart, the straight-forward, affable, good ol’ boy with a wife and family. He loves his children but there is a distance between him and his wife, Maggie, played by Michelle Monoghan. This family scene strikes a stark contrast to McConnaughey’s Rustin Cohle, one of the most intriguing, enigmatic characters I’ve encountered in my experiences with hunky male leads on TV. With all the anti-heroes around, Rust is offering a transcendent look at the cliche, giving a complete picture of the character, and not just an attempt at an archetype. He is a weird, quiet loner that is smarter than those around him, but broken in a shy, self-conscious way. He struggles with addiction, and through an awkward and sad dinner with Hart and family, we get an insight to his pain: a dead daughter and a failed marriage.

The chemistry between Harrelson and McConnauhey is fascinating; its so natural you feel like this relationship has always existed and you are just now coming upon it. Harrelson plays Mary with a put-upon humor, emoting both exasperation and amusement at Cohle’s weirdness, but he also handles it diplomatically and fairly.. He delivers lines like, “Stop saying odd shit,” with such a good natured air that you are rooting for the friendship, even though it feels doomed (and through interviews from the future, we know it is). However, McConnaughey’s Cohle is much harder to love, but far more enthralling. A clandestine misanthrope with a dark past, Cohle harbors a secret, and the interviews we see from 2012 hint at a malignancy that exists in his future self.

The structure of the show offers a fresh look at a crime drama. Jumping back and forth between past and future, we get to see the pendulum swing back and forth on the evolution of the character -- its a very meta experience. The parallel timelines establish a narrative, but add a layer to what the viewer perceives as truth -- experiencing it how the character remembers it AND how it actually happened. The characters are reflections of each other, offering complimentary insights into each other. The episode ends with a line of dialogue that I assume is a direct address to the audience. Cohle tells the interviewer (and us, I think), “Start asking the right fucking questions.”


We hope you were able to catch the premiere of True Detective on HBO last night. Just in case you missed it, the episode will air again on Wednesday, January 15 at 10pm, only on HBO.

We have a new clip from the premiere episode
Be sure to check out the True Detective official website for a peek at additional content every week: 
True Detective is written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga. It centers on two detectives, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson), whose lives collide and entwine during a seventeen-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. The investigation of a bizarre murder in 1995 is framed and interlaced with testimony from the detectives in 2012, when the case has been reopened.
Watch new episodes of True Detective every Sunday at 9PM, only on HBO.

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