Have you been watching True Detective?
If the answer is no (FOR SHAME), you’re in luck because Warner Bros just dropped the first season on DVD and Blu-ray. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, and starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the HBO mystery/crime drama is already winning praise as the best new series of the year, and here’s why – spoiler free.
Cryptic references and fan theories
True Detective fans have scrupulously collected every scrap of information the show has drip fed them in an attempt to solve the central mystery. When the show mentioned a Yellow King, sales of a real short story, The King in Yellow, went through the roof overnight as fans raced to see if the text offered clues. Obscure religious and pagan iconography also have a large part to play, making the show a treat for those who enjoy participating in the mystery.
“The Rust Cohle Nihilistic Philosophy Hour”
One of the most popular aspects of the show has been its willingness to tackle the kind of recondite philosophical discussion others shy directly away from. Rust Cohle (McConaughey) is a frosty, dogged realist with an antipathy for religion. At one point, Rust – who the show paints as the sole moral character – proposes mankind commit to its own extinction. The cases he makes for the truly grim things he says are utterly fascinating. Marty Hart (Harrelson), however, is a traditional, southern, red-stater, who specialises in repeated moral lapses. Who, then, can you side with? Can the audience get behind a man who genuinely finds life little more than a vicious, annular deception, or the strict, traditional rules of a man who refuses to practice what he preaches? The answer’s going to surprise you.
Time-hopping narrative structure
Part of True Detective’s charm comes from its self-imposed challenge of threading its dense 17-year story in only eight episodes. Watching how enormously the characters grow and change as the ripples of the investigation widen is one of the show’s greatest feats – Marty’s daughters grow up, we are presented with two starkly different versions of Rust Cohle off the bat, and a seemingly vibrant, effervescent minister interviewed by Rust and Marty in 1995 becomes a world-weary, beaten, alcoholic husk by 2002.
“Alright, alright, alright.”
Due respect to Woody Harrelson, but True Detective would be poorer without Matthew McConaughey’s career-best performance. From darkly funny car rides spent trying to discuss his bleak worldview with his unwilling partner, to dispensing startling, reckless advice like “If you have the opportunity, you should kill yourself,” to freshly-confessed murder suspects, Rust is unlike any character you’ve ever seen on TV before.
We actually get to know the detectives
Far too many police procedurals sprint through introducing their main cast before carving through as many grisly cases as their writers can come up with. True Detective spends its entire season on a single mystery and much of that time is spent wishing Marty wouldn’t be so awful to his family. We’re allowed to see these men at their best and their worst, and it only serves to make their journey more suspenseful.
True Detective is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros Home Video and is absolutely worth your time. Shows of this calibre come along too infrequently. As it stands, this first season of True Detective will be remembered as a modern classic and this is your chance to get in on the ground floor. Have you already seen the show? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.