"Game of Thrones" has been widely accepted by TV viewers but otherwise, HBO is actually bare in the drama category, especially that "The Newsroom" and "Board Empire" are both ending in 2014. Fortunately, "True Detective" is arriving at the right time. The star prowess of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as a mismatched duo of homicide cops can interest you but once you're in, this quiet and riveting crime drama can grab a hold of you and won't let go.
There has been only three episodes but we already have five reason why we believe "True Detective" can someday be an HBO all-time great.
1. The mystery is just beside the point
The "True Detective" follows Louisiana detectives Martin Hart (Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (McConaughey) as they investigate a murder in 1995. It flashes forward to 2012 where Hart and Cohle are being questioned by the cops about the case, which may not be really closed.
The series is not about identifying the killer but actually digging around the psyches of Hart and Cohle. Hart appears to be not the upstanding family man he seems to be and Cohle's stoic personality due to a checkered past is being revealed week after week. It is beyond a procedural investigation.
2. McConaughey's performance
Matthew McConaughey is nominated for an Oscar award for his performance in "Dallas Buyers Club" and his "True Detective" performance is expected to be even better. Cohle in 1995 is a relentless investigator who has shed his personal life to chase down leads. In 2012, Cohle is a scraggly burnout but in both eras, he's confounding and compelling. Harrelson is no disappointment either. He has two Oscar nominations of his own and his determined, straight Hart character shows a dark side when his affair with a young woman went sour.
3. Incredible drama dialogue
The creator, Nic Pizzolatto is a former literature professor and a novelist so the dialogue is not limited to cop lingo, prone to oblique existential musing about religion and morality. His bigger target is now thin the line between an avenging angel and a serial killer is.
4. Unusual setting
The cop-show is set and filmed in the rural towns of South Louisiana, away from the urban procedurals of most investigative TV series. The cinematographer and director took full advantage of the place, filming sweeping terrains that look like beautiful photos. Even the silent moments are mesmerizing.
5. Almost auteur cinema
The series has a consistent tone and style that feels like an 8-hour movie because all eight episodes were directed by Fukunaga and written by Pizzolatto, instead of different committees like most TV series do. It is an American Horror story with a new case and new set of cast for each season so Pizzolatto is not forced to stretch out a story past its expiry date.