Overall Grade: (A+)
With a short number of episodes this one plays out like a mini-series and builds intrigue quickly as it develops strong characters with a dark and twisted plot that bring out many unsavory players while keeping you completely enthralled to what the conclusion will ultimately be.
Two Louisiana detectives who are polar opposites in their beliefs, the way they do the job, as well as the way they live their lives will become joined together when a case unlike none they have seen comes across their desks. Despite their differences their common goal of bringing a killer to justice will fuel their partnership as they spend 17 years trying to track down a sadistic serial killer who at times seems to always be a step ahead of their every move.
Over the years I have found it hard to keep up with the twenty-four episode season found often on major networks such as NBC, ABC and CBS. With so many one-hour episodes things tend to get monotonous, repetitive and at times dull with even the best of television series’. As cable networks have expanded, companies such as HBO, Showtime and Cinemax have thrown their hat in the series ring. The result was often a shortened season, and scripts that could be freed of the rating systems that can often hinder the final product with so many episodes that tend to feel the same.
HBO has delivered a winner with the excellently balanced and highly intriguing “True Detective”. The first season of which creator Nic Pizzolatto says will be a three season arc, consists of eight, highly compelling episodes. With only the short number of episodes the murder mystery as well as partnership between the two main characters picks up and develop rather quickly. The first episode seemed a little all over the place but as the second came the story-line developed a great flow that would continue throughout.
The intrigue is also built soon on with a multiple time-lines where much of the entire season is set as a flashback. The polar opposites in the appearance of McConaughey’s character says many things without a single word of dialogue.
You quickly realize many things have changed and as the shows progress nice tidbits are routinely revealed until ultimately all the pieces of the puzzle fit nicely into place as the season comes to a close. The family dynamic of Harrelson’s characters as well as the unorthodox methods of operation from McConaughey serve as great subplots to the main theme.
The settings of the shows are also excellent in conveying the (sinister at times) remote backwoods feel. There are many dreary locations that serve as a perfect backdrop for many highly impactful scenes in every episode. As the case progresses there are many creepy and unsavory characters introduced as the eerie murder investigation takes many odd turns as the years pass.
There is no doubt one of the strongest aspects of this shows greatness is the creation of the two main characters. Their uniquely opposite personalities and highly interesting, and even more so the performance of these roles by McConaughey and Harrelson make the most of the material.
In particular McConaughey who was nothing short of brilliant as the highly odd and extremely intelligent detective. The chemistry between the two leads was great and provided for many tense, dramatic and even comical moments as their characters try to blend with one another despite the clear differences they share on nearly every facet of life and its philosophies.
The small collection of main plots keep the pace moving and with very creative dialogue you can easily hang on every word as subtle meanings begin to present themselves. The backgrounds of the two main characters are seamlessly developed with the progression of their case and their one common similarity of wanting to catch a killer. Their relationship comes full circle and the suspense is plentiful and with a small collection of side-characters the episodes never feel cluttered allowing the focus to remain on McConaughey and Harrelson.
For anyone who likes a good, dark crime saga with excellent writing and performances then this show will not disappoint. The ride this short season takes you on will deliver many memorable moments and sitting back and enjoying the performance of McConaughey alone will make it worth your time. There are a good amount of decent shows out there but not many are as near perfection as this one for its genre.