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High profile casting brings detective show to life

Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, February 2, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 2, 2014 22:02

There are way too many police procedural and detective mystery shows on television. We all know that one person who watches every single one, unaware that most are both identical and interchangeable, but for this exact reason most of these new shows get cancelled due to poor ratings early on.

What makes a show with a horrible title like “True Detective” any different? Sometimes it’s all about casting. For some reason, high profile and successful movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are leading HBO’s new drama, and the chemistry between the two adds enough to their characters and the show to really elevate above your standard “CSI” episode.

“True Detective” tells the story of two detectives through a 17-year period. The main story unfolds in the mid 90’s. Detectives Hart (Harrelson) and Cohle (McConaughey) have been working together for three months. The two find themselves investigating a ritualistic and possibly satanic serial murder. In the present, Hart and Cohle narrate the story as they recall separately the events to two detectives who believe the killer is still out there.

However, the investigators seem a lot more interested in the detectives’ personal lives and relationship with each other than the case.

As I said earlier, there are many shows like this on television any night of the week, but the writing here is much better than your standard genre show. The case, the characters and the story are more intriguing, complex, intelligent and riveting than most. It’s definitely “a thinking man’s” show.

Three episodes in, the show has been slowly building plotwise, with its characters really keeping us interested.

Hart is a family man who at first appears happily married. He has a mistress he says he loves just as much as his wife, whom he tells the investigators he had to be with to let the steam off from work before going home. He loves his wife and family, but we see him kick his mistress’s door in and beat a man when he sees her take him home.

Cohle is an atheist pessimist who believes mankind as a whole is both doomed and bad. He says he is only alive because he lacks the constitution for suicide. He was once a married man, but the marriage ended after losing a child. He used to have a drinking problem and we see in the present he has relapsed to a severe level. He spends all day obsessing over cases and has no life outside of the job.

The two butt heads constantly and mistrust one another. The relationship between them and the mystery surrounding them, has so far been the most intriguing part of the new series.

“True Detective” has been said to be an anthology series like FX’s “American Horror Story.” I am not sure what this means for the show as it is three episodes into its eight-episode first season and it is moving somewhat slower than you would expect for a season that promises a conclusion. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the plot and its characters, but the show seems to be slowly building toward something big.

Like HBO’s classic original show “The Wire,” its slow pace will not suck you into it instantly and may turn off some viewers. It takes more than one episode to really become intrigued, but as the third episode’s cliffhanger ending seems to promise, there is a lot more to come.

I am afraid this show will turn into an anticlimactic and formulaic genre piece, but I have high hopes with its strong writing, intriguing premise and characters and its high-profile casting. Surely big names like Harrelson and McConaughey would not be involved if this show was not something special and for the time being it certainly is intriguing enough to keep me watching and entertained. The only question is, will it pay off?

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