HBO's new show, True Detective, premiered last night, and boy, was it something else.
Detectives on TV are nothing new. In fact it has been done to the point where I thought nothing new could spring out of the genre. Never have I been more wrong, for this take on the detective story is wholly unique.
The series takes place in Louisiana and stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as Detectives Martin Hart and Rust Cohle, respectively, in the cliched relationship of mismatched partners. Hart is a family man with a wife and two daughters, while Cohle is more of a sulking loner. He reminded me of a modern day philosopher, yet very cynical of the dark world around him. The story is split in to two different timelines, one during the '90s in which Hart and Cohle are investigating the somewhat satanic killing of a young woman named Dora Lange. The other timeline takes place during 2012 when the two men are being interviewed separately (as the two men have not spoken to each other for ten years) for help on a new case that suggests the case that started in '95 may have never been closed, or maybe the wrong person was put in jail.
Right from the opening credits you know you are in store for something very different. There is something very twisted yet beautiful about True Detective. The cinematography is gorgeous and yet a lot of what is seen on screen is ugly, dark, and somewhat horrific.
It's that clash of themes–beauty and terror–that bolsters True Detective significantly.
The twin storylines also give this detective story a very fresh perspective. Cohle is a very different man in 2012 than the pragmatic daydreamer (another clash of themes) we see in '95. Hart is a married man in '95 and yet we find out he is divorced in 2012. This way of storytelling creates a very cool way for the viewer to interact with the show. It may answer questions asked in the '95 investigation but at the same time raise more. Another strong point in this show is the focus on characters rather than the murder. This show, on top of being a murder mystery, is very much a character study of the detectives. The focus is on these two very unique yet slightly damaged individuals with the murder that unifies them taking a backseat.
Even though the show is very dark and heavy, there is a recurring levity throughout as Woody Harrelson does a great job of delivering humorous jabs at McConaughey's character. Another clash of themes: as these men are embroiled in a horrific situation, Hart can still create a moment of laughter.
True Detective is dark, disturbing, and ugly, and I cannot wait to tune in next week.
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