by Jamie Parrish
Being a TV junkie I try and watch everything, but there is always one show that rises above them all and draws my attention more than all the others.
For a while in the early aughts that show was ABC’s LOST. I loved J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof’s flashback approach to character development and story telling which at the time seemed innovative but now seems par for the course for many quality shows. Say what you will about how it ended and the questions it left us with, when it ended its six season run in May of 2010 I was hoping that something would take it’s place the following fall. I was left craving for a show that I could theorize about, obsess over, and anticipate watching each week. When nothing showed up in fall of 2010 that seemed nearly as good I felt, for lack of a better word, lost. Thursday nights felt empty. Then came Breaking Bad.
I came late to the Breaking Bad party, binge watching the first four seasons on Netflix in just enough time to enjoy its fifth and final season. Sunday night became what Thursdays had been for me. Unfortunately I found Mr. White and Jesse Pinkman, when they were preparing for their exit, which came on September 29th of last year. Throughout the fall season nothing seemed to be taking the place that LOST and Breaking Bad once held.
This brings me to True Detective.
When HBO announced last spring that it was developing a police drama I had no idea that Woody Harrelson’s Martin Hart and Matthew McConaughey’s Rustin Cohle would become my new Kate and Jack. The story focuses on Hart and Cohle two Louisiana State cops working in the state’s south plains to solve the 1995 ritualistic murder of Dora Lange. The narrative unfolds to the viewer through a series of interviews taking place in 2012 about their investigation.
Don’t tune in thinking you are going to watch your standard crime procedural. While there is plenty of attention paid to how police solve crimes, the murder of Dora Lange is just a backdrop to tell a mesmerizing story about two men who have been broken by their careers as detectives. Reluctantly thrown together, they end up depending upon each other to fill that void being a cop as created in their souls. McConaughey and Harrelson deliver inspired performances. It would be hard not to with the source material writer and showrunner Nic Pizzolatto has provided them.
There are passages of dialogue that make this show feel as if it were originally written as a novel. His writing sets an eerie and hypnotic tone that makes the desolate landscape of south Louisiana a living and breathing thing which demands to be recognized and is summed up best in episode one when Cohle declares, “This place is like someone’s memory of a town and that memory is fading. It’s like there was never anything here but jungle.” I could go on about the transcendent moments of dialogue that flesh out Pizzolatto’s setting and characters but it is best experienced through watching.
You better hurry up because True Detective like American Horror story is going to be a new story with a new cast each season. With only eight total episodes it’s a possibility that Mcconaughey’s and Harrelson’s presence on the show, just like the town it’s set in, could be fading.