Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Friday, January 31, 2014

True Detective


If you're one of the eight or so readers who follow my blog with any sort of regularity, you'll know that one of the things I do when a new TV show that interests me starts up is that I'll watch it and then share my feelings about it, It's taken me three episodes to get around to doing so for HBO's new show True Detective. Partly that's because I've had time constraints and pesky computer problems, and partly that's because my thoughts on the show, much like the murder case going on in the show, are muddled. There's one thing I can say with certainty, though:

It's damn sure not TV. It's HBO.

True Detective belongs right in the middle of this delightful Venn Diagram.

The quality of True Detective is what we've all come to expect from an HBO show, especially a drama, and then some. Each episode feels like a movie in terms of the beauty and care with which it's shot and directed. It feels like each frame is painstakingly planned and everything means something. Likewise, the writing is brilliant. It's witty and deeply philosophical and again, it feels like everything means something. But none of that would mean a thing if not for the cast and some of the best acting currently on television on display in every episode.

No, it certainly wasn't.

If you had told me a few years ago I'd one day be associating Matthew McConaughey with the idea of being an amazing actor, I'd have died laughing. But recently, that's exactly what he's become, and I'm not even talking about his latest films. In this show alone he is absolutely riveting. His Detective Rust Cohle is cold and aloof and perhaps a little insane, but the shit he says and does and the absolute stoicism he says and does it with is brilliant. And while it's true he's getting all the praise right now, I think his performance is elevated by the job Woody Harrelson does as his partner, Detective Martin Hart. Marty's relationship with Rust is hilarious; it's built on a simmering, barely-there tolerance for Rust's nihilist, pessimist observations and the looks that Harrelson shoots McConaughey to go along with his one-liners and pleas to just shut up are fantastic.

So I've praised the acting, writing, and direction. Effluent praise, one might say. Why then, did I say my thoughts on the show are muddled?

As much as I enjoy the above aspects of the show, I'm not sure I like the show itself. Everything about it feels slow to me. The pacing and plot developments of a murder mystery within a mystery and the way it's all structured are unfolding in such a way that I find my attention drifting for much of the show, only refocusing when something big... or just loud... happens.

It's entirely possible my attention also refocuses whenever Alexandra Daddario is on screen. I mean... damn.

I have a suspicion, however, that all the slowness is leading to a brilliant explosion of pace that will make the wait worth it, so I'm willing to go along for the ride. And while I wait, there's plenty of great acting to enjoy. So check out True Detective if you haven't already, I think you'll enjoy it. And even if you don't... well, there are only eight episodes, so what do you have to lose?

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