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TV Review: True Detective (PILOT)

Jan. 10, 2014by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Seventeen years after they apparently solved a grisly ritual-style killing of a young prostitute, former detectives Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are interviewed about their investigation by a new set of detectives working on a case with uncomfortable similarities.

REVIEW: Based on the pilot, I think its safe to say HBO has got another great drama on its hands. Adopting a limited-series anthology format- which means that if TRUE DETECTIVE is renewed it will continue with a new set of detectives- the show is not unlike the type of short run series youd see in the UK. The amazing RED RIDING TRILOGY and SOUTHCLIFFE immediately come to mind.

The entire eight-episode run of TRUE DETECTIVE is directed by feature regular Cary Fukunaga- of SIN NOMBRE and the most recent version of JANE EYRE. Im tempted to say the result gives the show a feature-film feel thats unique, but truth be told cable has seen such an influx of great directors honing their skills on shows like BREAKING BAD (where Rian Johnson directed some of the most memorable episodes) and HOUSE OF CARDS (David Fincher & James Foley among others) that you pretty much expect each new show to look spectacular. TRUE DETECTIVE is no exception, even if the screener copy I was provided had unfinished color timing. Making the most of South Louisiana location shooting, Fukunagas work oozes atmosphere- helped along by a score by Coen Bros regular T. Bone Burnett that gives the show an appropriately seedy feel.

Given that TRUE DETECTIVE is a procedural, what is it that makes the show so unique? In addition to the stylized writing by Nic Pizzolatto, where the detectives are as prone to discuss the existence of God as they are the case, the show is all but defined by the incredible performances by stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.

Based on the pilot, McConaughey, whos in the middle of one of the most incredible career transformations Ive ever seen, has the more complex role. As Rust Cohle, whos dubbed The Taxman by his colleagues due to his habit of noting things constantly in his ledger, McConaugheys got something that just may turn out to be one of his all-time greatest parts, on par with KILLER JOE, MUD and DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. Wound so tight that he needs to pop Quaaludes just to get a good nights sleep, its clear from his appearance in the current-day parts of the pilot (where he spots long-straggly hair and constantly drinks cheap beer- even while being interviewed- compared to his clean-cut Taxman days) that something pretty bad is going to go down with him by the time the series is over. Right from the start, Taxman is certain the ritual killing, which is quickly chalked up to wannabe-Satanists in their fearful town, is part of a bigger picture and the way his investigation evolves will do doubt be the crux of the series.

By contrast, Woody Harrelson plays the more conventional part, with his present day guise being just as conservative (minus some hair) as his 1995 version. Again though, this might very well be misdirection on the series part, and given that Harrelsons on-screen wife- played by Michelle Monaghan- is given such high billing, we can expect issues in his home life to have a strong bearing on the case. By the end of the series, who knows what well know about him?

Its this kind of uncertainty that makes TRUE DETECTIVE such an intriguing new addition to the HBO schedule. By the end of the pilot I still had no idea where the rest of the series would go, although I have a hunch that the procedural aspects will diminish in importance after a few more revelations- whatever they turn out to be. Suffice to say, for me its already appointment viewing, and I cant wait to see whats in store for the rest of the season.

Extra Tidbit: TRUE DETECTIVE premieres Sunday night at 9pm on HBO. Do you want to see more TRUE DETECTIVE episode reviews? Strike back below!
Source: JoBlo.com

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2:13AM on 01/10/2014
Very good news
Very good news
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3:47AM on 01/10/2014
Have to check this out!
Have to check this out!
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4:40AM on 01/10/2014
I'm interested in the show because of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey so please review the show's episodes :]
I'm interested in the show because of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey so please review the show's episodes :]
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5:14AM on 01/10/2014
Can't wait for this. Like Netforce said below; I'm only interested in this because of the two leads and it looks fantastic.

Hopefully you guys review this show on a weekly basis instead of Agents of Shit.
Can't wait for this. Like Netforce said below; I'm only interested in this because of the two leads and it looks fantastic.

Hopefully you guys review this show on a weekly basis instead of Agents of Shit.
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10:57PM on 01/10/2014
You got it.
You got it.
6:45AM on 01/10/2014
Thanks, man.
Thanks, man.
8:11AM on 01/10/2014
Daddario reveals the goods, too.
Daddario reveals the goods, too.
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2:25PM on 01/12/2014
Just a note for the guys who see this, and hope to see some tittays.
You don't see them until the 2nd episode.
So 1 more week ...
Just a note for the guys who see this, and hope to see some tittays.
You don't see them until the 2nd episode.
So 1 more week ...
7:57PM on 01/10/2014
Mm hmm.
Mm hmm.
3:56PM on 01/10/2014
Nevermind, just saw them...by the bedpan of Gene Rayburn they're glorious!
Nevermind, just saw them...by the bedpan of Gene Rayburn they're glorious!
1:36PM on 01/10/2014
Has that been confirmed though? I know there's rumors because there's a clip of her lifting her shirt but do we actually see those glorious boobs of hers or is it a tease?
Has that been confirmed though? I know there's rumors because there's a clip of her lifting her shirt but do we actually see those glorious boobs of hers or is it a tease?
11:27AM on 01/10/2014
Amen brother! Texas Chainsaw was just close enough, but this one delivers.
Amen brother! Texas Chainsaw was just close enough, but this one delivers.
8:16AM on 01/10/2014

Would be Nice if...

You mentioned the air date and time...
You mentioned the air date and time...
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9:28AM on 01/10/2014
Love TV/HBO reviews, wish it would become the norm. Keep it up!
Love TV/HBO reviews, wish it would become the norm. Keep it up!
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9:50AM on 01/10/2014
Fantastic, very excited.
Fantastic, very excited.
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10:41AM on 01/10/2014

Sounds awesome!

Sounds a bit like ITV's Whitechapel, which if you haven't seen, you're in for a treat.
Sounds a bit like ITV's Whitechapel, which if you haven't seen, you're in for a treat.
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12:55PM on 01/10/2014
Excellent review! HBO is all about quality, therefore I'll definitely watch this show on Sunday. Especially since the Game of Thrones season 4 trailer is airing before True Detectives.
Excellent review! HBO is all about quality, therefore I'll definitely watch this show on Sunday. Especially since the Game of Thrones season 4 trailer is airing before True Detectives.
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1:35PM on 01/10/2014
Kinda sorry I just cancelled HBO...
Kinda sorry I just cancelled HBO...
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2:29PM on 01/10/2014
Those stills remind me of Christian Bale.

Where has Matthew McConaughey been all these years? He was very good leading man material in A Time To Kill.
Those stills remind me of Christian Bale.

Where has Matthew McConaughey been all these years? He was very good leading man material in A Time To Kill.
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9:35AM on 01/12/2014
Glad to come across this review! Hope to read more.
Glad to come across this review! Hope to read more.
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12:43PM on 01/13/2014

Yo, you just ripped off the Variety review!

Yo, you just ripped off the Variety review!
Yo, you just ripped off the Variety review!
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