In the US: Sundays, 9pm, HBO
In the UK: Saturdays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic. Starts February 22
You do have to give a credit to HBO for trying something a little bit new with True Detective. For starters, it’s an anthology detective show: like American Horror Story, each season will consist of eight episodes and involve completely different characters and situations.
But season one is giving us this: a 17-year-long investigation of a serial killer in Louisiana, with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as the ill matched detective partners who visibly age as the narrative progresses and jumps between times as it’s told in a series of flashbacks. Harrelson is the personable, probably adulterous family man, McConaughey the depressed Texan philosopher who tries to counter his lonely sleepless nights with Quaaludes.
It’s not easy viewing, another show that seems to revel in mutated dead female corpses arranged in rituals. McConaughey’s nihilism is bleak indeed. And there’s no one you can really warm to. It’s also very slow moving.
But it’s excellently done. The slow pace gives everything time to breath. With a talent it was hard to spot a decade ago but which has become almost commonplace in his recent work (the so-called “McConaughaissance”) McConaughey is great as the focused, lonely, emotionally empty Cohle. Older time periods are recreated well, although you’d be hard-pushed to guess that everything begins in 1995. There’s a fair few supporting cast from The Wire (Clarke Peters, Michael Potts). And it’s smart, giving you things to thing about for a change.
It’s not clear yet how much the actual crime is going to be worth investigating, but with its broken structure, we have many more mysteries than just that to keep us intrigued. Give it a try, but be prepared to be patient and pay attention.
- January 29, 2014: Third-episode verdict: True Detective (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
A review of the first three episodes of HBO and Sky Atlantic's True Detective
- February 14, 2014: What have you been watching? Including Fleming, The Life of Rock with Brian Pern, The Moodys, Salamander and Suspects
What I watched in the week ending 14th February 2014
- April 29, 2014: Preview: Playing House 1x1 (USA)
A preview of the first episode of Playing House
- June 26, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Rules For Living, True Detective, The Last Ship and Suits
A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending June 26 2015
- July 24, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal
A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending July 24 2015
- July 3, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Scream, Mr Holmes, Ballers, True Detective and Mr Robot
A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending July 3 2015
- July 10, 2015: What have you been watching? Including Terminator: Genisys, Man of Tai Chi, The Last Ship, UnREAL and Westside
A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending July 10 2015
- July 17, 2015: What have you been watching? Including X-Men: DOFP (Rogue Cut), The Equalizer and The Last Ship
A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the week ending July 17 2015
- September 1, 2015: What have you been watching? Including The Bakkhai, Impastor, Glitch and The Whispers
A review of the TV, films and theatre I saw in the past five weeks
- October 29, 2015: Review: Wicked City 1x1 (US: ABC)
A review of the first episode of ABC's Wicked City
- April 14, 2016: Review: The Detour 1x1-1x2 (US: TBS)
A review of the first two episodes of TBS's The Detour