‘True Detective’ drama done right

In 1995, a murder occurred that left two Louisiana investigators perplexed and disturbed by what was found at the crime scene. Seventeen years later, after having closed the case, they are being interviewed to gain information about their insights due to the possibility of the serial killer’s return—or whether he was ever caught—in HBO’s anthology drama, “True Detective.”

Matthew McConaughey stars as Rustin “Rust” Cohle, along with co-lead, Woody Harrelson as Martin “Marty” Hart: former detective partners whose personas are captured in two different timelines from their years working together in 1995 to their present day lives in 2012. Thus, the first appealing piece of storytelling is realized in this uniquely delivered series.

With three episodes having aired already and a total of eight for the season, the series thrives on its ability to achieve slow and careful storytelling during an hour long timeframe. This makes the narrative feel more like a movie due to the increasing depth of character development of its two headlining protagonists.

Another aspect that gives the show hidden strength lies with its creator Nic Pizzolatto, who is not only involved as showrunner but individually wrote each episode of the series. Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Jane Eyre”) directed the entire season, which opens up the idea of how it can be viewed as a miniseries with an exact visionary intent kept intact.

The opening title sequence is mesmerizingly beautiful, containing images of coloration that transcend between locations and the faces and frames of people that embody the thought-provoking themes that are revealed, flowing to absolute perfection with the track “Far From Any Road” by alternative country band The Handsome Family.

Mystery abounds as Cohle and Hart recollect the events in 1995 where Dora Kelly Lange was found murdered in ritualistic fashion next to a large tree, revealing the show’s first attempts to grasp the type of men these two detectives are.

On the outside Cohle appears as a loner, with a strange sense of beliefs and philosophical understandings of the world around him, but more importantly himself. As his nickname of “Rust” may apply, Cohle’s background speaks to it all too well with the loss of his daughter, divorce and battles with drug addiction and obsession before his detective days.

Hart, on the other hand, is more of a “middle of the road” type of guy, as described by Harrelson in an “About the Show” clip. While he is married with two daughters, Hart seems to be able to handle things a bit differently than Cohle. His problem deals more with the denial of the kind of person he truly is, as he struggles with the temptation of other women in his life.

Scenes where McConaughey and Harrelson’s characters interact with one another are some of the most significant gems of the story and while they may seem like complete polar opposites, there are a number of eerily similar details to be discovered between the two.

Both actors evoke such a tremendous presence through their performances that they are truly able to reel in the viewer and make an impact on the show’s hybrid anthology format. Adding on to that is the ever entrancing Louisiana location that gives the show a fresh and dim look unlike any that one is used to seeing.

The first two episodes leave an individual wanting more and they complement each other greatly by being able to provide minimal details of advancing plot developments with the suspense an audience craves. It’s no wonder the series has received overwhelming positive critical acclaim already.

If the show is picked up for another season, which seems incredibly likely at this point, it will be revolved around an entirely new set of characters and storyline because of the anthology format currently being used. Showrunner Pizzolatto has mentioned that it may not necessarily even involve detectives or killers next time, but simply a mystery for another cast to solve. 

This shift in dramatic storytelling allows the main characters to become as developed as possible to understand their ultimate arc, with the ability to always keep a fresh and intriguing story for future seasons, which can be a worthy option for big name actors who are concerned about signing on to a television show for multiple years.

Since the series is available to watch on HBO, some may be worried about keeping up with it if they aren't subscribed to the network. Worry not, because every television lover knows at least one other friend or roommate who has premium channels, or in this case, an HBO GO account that they are hopefully willing to share.