Even though I write crime fiction, I’m not that big on police procedural shows like Law and Order. Too many characters to keep up with, and I don’t identify with them very well. From what I’ve seen of these shows, the cops are very professional and they rarely, if ever, follow their leads in the wrong direction.
So when I saw ads online for the HBO show True Detective I didn’t get excited. Sure, it has two great actors in it, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, but a police procedural is a police procedural.
Then, a couple weeks back, somebody gave me copies of the first four episodes. They’d recorded them as they aired, then burned them on DVD. I trust this person’s opinion, for the most part, and it was backed up by someone else whose opinion I trust, so I decided to give them a try. After all, as I’ve mentioned, the show does have two excellent actors.
I took them home, watched the first two episodes back to back, and got sucked in. Not just hooked, but sucked in like the show was a black hole.
I’m not sure how to describe this show if you haven’t seen it. There are moments when I want to slap the characters—especially Woody Harrelson’s—because they’re doing something stupid, but I can’t look away while they’re doing it. These two cops—they’re Louisiana State Police detectives—are so flawed that you can’t really view them as the standoffish cops you see in shows like Law and Order. Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rustin “Rust” Cohle, is so pessimistic it’s hard to see how he doesn’t just commit suicide, and Woody Harrelson’s character Martin “Marty” Hart can’t seem to keep from cheating on his wife even though she’s a wonderful, beautiful woman (played by Michelle Monaghan). He claims it lets the stress out and allows him to keep his marriage good.
All of this is set against a Southern Gothic backdrop with hints of supernatural elements in it that keep me coming back for more. Though I’ve seen every episode so far, I have a feeling there are lots of things I missed (especially at the end of each episode. My computer’s DVD player seems to have problems playing burnt DVDs), so I’ll be buying this one when it comes out on video.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at how this show has turned out. Watching Rust and Marty, seeing both their personal and private lives and how they intersect has been a major treat so far. And it seems like every episode just keeps getting better.
So if you haven’t seen True Detective yet, get on Netflix or wherever and catch up. This is an excellent show, and well worth watching, especially if you like cop shows, serial killers, or Southern Gothic. It blends all three very well and leaves you wanting more.