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TELEVISION REVIEW: FTN reviews True Detective S1E01 “The Long Bright Dark”

January 14th, 2014 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

The new series from HBO promises amazing things with an award winning cast. Will it deliver?

True Detective is an innovative new show from HBO, It will be an anthology series, meaning the cast and characters will change each season. The entire first series is written by American novelist Nic Pizzolatto who also acts as show runner. Every episode is directed by Sundance award winner Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombre).

The series centres on Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), lead investigators in a macabre 1995 Louisiana murder with occult overtones. The show spans 17 years, following them as they start investigating in 1995 and catching up with them again in 2012, where they’re being interviewed by two other detectives who believe they either have a copycat killer on their hands or the detectives arrested the wrong man.

The show is as much about the emotional and moral toll the case takes on the detectives and well as those around them as a enthralling murder case.

The pilot introduces us to the two partners, who despite three months into their partnership in 1995, are only just getting to know each other, mainly due to Rustin’s laconic manner and his utter disdain for Louisiana and its ways.

We discover Rustin recently transferred from Texas, something that doesn’t sit right with most of the detectives in the squad who suspect him of being internal affairs, mainly as he refuses to socialise with them or let rule bending pass without comment.

Rustin is haunted by some tragic happenings in his past that may have been the actual reason behind his transfer. He’s also claims not to be a Christian which really doesn’t go down well with anyone in that area.

Hart is hardly above reproach either as he seems to be having an affair.

I’m not going into detail on the case itself as I don’t want to spoil the main plot but suffice it to say both men are still professional detectives and seem quite capable of catching the killer. All in all they are good detectives but not so good at being people.

On paper this might not look all that original, the premise of an odd couple pairing of old school investigator and book learning profiler, investigating a murder in the south with occult overtones may seem simple, but the writing is good enough that when coupled with two power house actors such as Harrelson and McConaughey as leads, it feels fresh.

Fukunaga proves his skill as a director managing to perfectly capture the Louisiana landscapes and combines that with appropriately eerie visuals when needed. The difference between the two times is also visually apparent without being jarring, though that’s down to superb make up rather than any cinematic trickery.

The icing on the cake is T. Bone Burnetts musical score, it’s inspired, wrapping around the scenes perfectly.

The hook for the series is the possibility of either outcome – Either the pair got the right guy or learn they have made a tragic mistake. Either way, as the series progresses, we’ll see them struggle to come to terms with each other and their inner demons. I really can’t find a flaw in it, though it is just the first episode.

Brilliant , enthralling, TV.

5 out of 5 Nerds

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I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.