5 Reasons Why 'True Detective' Might Be HBO's Next Great Drama
Sure, "Game of Thrones" is fantastic. But beyond that, the cupboard is shockingly bare for HBO in the drama department, especially with "Boardwalk Empire" (underrated, and will be missed) and "The Newsroom" (uneven, but with flashes of brilliance) ending this year.
Lucky for us (and HBO), "True Detective" is arriving at just the right time. The star power of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as a mismatched pair of homicide cops might get you in the door, but once you're in, this quietly riveting crime drama grabs hold of you and doesn't let go.
We're only three episodes in, but here are five reasons why we're already thinking "True Detective" might someday earn a spot alongside HBO's all-time greats.
1. The mystery is beside the point.
On the surface, "True Detective" follows Louisiana detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson) as they investigate a ritualistic murder in 1995. It also flashes forward to 2012, where Cohle and Hart are being questioned by cops about the case… which may not be closed after all.
But creator Nic Pizzolatto (who wrote for "The Killing," but don't hold that against him) isn't as interested in identifying the killer here as he is in digging around inside the psyches of Cohle and Hart. Cohle's a stoic enigma with a checkered past that we get to slowly unravel week to week, and we soon learn Hart isn't nearly the upstanding family man he pretends to be, either.
We'll probably find out who committed these murders by season's end (Pizzolatto must've learned at least that much from "The Killing"), but that's not really the point here. If you want to see a murder solved in 60 minutes, click over to CBS; they're probably airing a nice, tidy procedural right now. "True Detective" has bigger fish to fry than solving a simple whodunit.
2. McConaughey knocks it out of the park.
Matthew McConaughey is poised to win an Oscar in a few weeks for his knockout performance in "Dallas Buyers Club." So it sounds ridiculous to suggest that his "True Detective" performance might be even better. And yet, it might be.
As the 1995 Cohle, he's a force of nature: a relentless investigator who's shed any semblance of a personal life (or social niceties) to chase down leads. As the 2012 Cohle, he's a scraggly burnout, his brain fried from his years as an undercover narcotics cop. (Yes, he sampled the wares.) In both eras, he's compelling, confounding, and never less than fascinating. Don't be surprised if McConaughey is doing his "alright alright alright" shtick while clutching an Emmy later this year, halfway to an EGOT.
But Harrelson is no slouch, either: He's got a pair of Oscar nominations of his own, and though his grimly determined Hart is the straight man here, we've already seen his dark side come roaring to the surface when his steamy affair with a young temptress (Alexandra Daddario) went sour. And while McConaughey and Harrelson do most of the heavy lifting here, we still want to see more of Michelle Monaghan as Hart's fed-up wife Maggie and "Boardwalk's" Shea Whigham as a revival-tent preacher.