TV Review: TRUE DETECTIVE – 2014 (Episodes 1-3)
Rarely do Movie stars who are at the pinnacle of their career, resort to doing anything on Television, often referred to as ‘the small screen’. So it’s kind of unusual to see Matthew McConaughey appear in an HBO Original Drama Series, given his incredible turn his career has taken in the last year or so, who is also currently on the Oscar track for his performance in THE DALLAS BUYER’S CLUB. However, after taking a look at the show that got the actor on the ‘small screen’, it’s not at all unusual to understand why he’s there. Here is my Review of the first 3 episodes of TRUE DETECTIVE.
Unlike any other Detective show currently on TV, TRUE DETECTIVE immediately hooks us with an almost documentary style narrative, featuring the two main characters played by McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, being interviewed for a case they worked together years ago. The story is set in 2012, while flashing back to 1995. It’s a great hook, and it works wonderfully to engage the audience and reel us in within the first few minutes.
The benefit of this narrative style also allows references and direct re-telling of incidents in the character’s ‘past’ that have yet to occur in the flashbacks, making it that much more intriguing and forcing the audience to keep watching for those events to unfold.
The story features a case that McConaughey’s Detective Cohle and Harrelson’s Detective Hart worked together years ago in 1995, and the need for this case to be retold for the cameras, for some yet to be revealed reason. The focus however, as both characters eventually catch onto, seems oddly enough on Cohle than the case itself.
Despite having been marketed as a show featuring two pretty big Movie heavyweights, TRUE DETECTIVE so far, is an all out Matthew McConaughey show. The character of Rustin Cohle is an intense, eccentric and fuck-all sociopath who must’ve been as fun to play, as he is to watch. Harrelson is great as always, as the more normal and balanced partner to Cohle, having the all-important debates that showcase the blatant shades of distinction between the two characters.
The first 3 episodes follow a traditional approach of showing us how the intensely non-funny buddy cop duo track down leads to a case in Louisiana in 1995, with connotations of devil worship, in order to unfold something that obviously had an impact on both of them, and definitely have some sort of bearing in 2012, albeit yet to be revealed.
During the case, we also get many insights into the characters personal lives and other subplots that are being set up in the show. Hart’s troubled marriage. Cohle ‘s troubled… well, mental faculties. The pressure from a faceless political figure that hints at being of significance as the story progresses. A falling out between the two characters, as referenced in the present day scenes, which obviously will not be revealed this early in the game.
TRUE DETECTIVE almost seems like a mini-series so far. A few episodes of intense dramatic brilliance, followed by a memorable ending. However, the story does set up the partners as having worked together for 7 years in the past, before their falling out. Therefore it stands to reason that the story has potential to go beyond this one case, however, the narration format may have to change to keep things interesting.
3 episodes in and TRUE DETECTIVE is a very slow paced, dull and almost boring show to watch. However, the intensely amazing performances of the two main lead actors, the manner in which the dialogue and background score are able to make every dull thud as sharp as a migraine, definitely makes the show worth the effort. The dialogue stands out most of all for Cohle, as his metaphysical, philosophical and emotionally rampaging 2012 monologues are the highlight of each episode, providing even more insight into his already fucked up mind, begging the audience to fill in the blanks of the timeline within the show from 1995 to 2012.
TRUE DETECTIVE has a lot going for it, and here’s hoping the crispness of writing and beauty of the performances don’t die down as the Season continues.