True Detective Season 1 (2014)

I review the first season of the eight hour True Detective, HBO’s serialized crime drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.


Chances are, you’ll have probably heard of True Detective by now. It’s one of this year’s most hyped series, and the start of a new anthology, American Horror Story-style series following different characters each season. For the first season, released in eight individual episodes towards the beginning of the year, True Detective reopens a case started in 1995, fifteen years later, calling into question the fact that the crime really was solved back then. The split narrative between the past and the present allows us to get insight as to just how much the case has changed the two leading characters, Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) as it basically shapes their lives. We don’t know why Cohle left the department and we don’t know what events that forced them on their separate ways. The mystery itself is tantalising and unpredictable, and as the series pulls back the layers, it remains one of the great mysteries of 2014.
Oscar award winning actor Matthew McConaughey puts in a fantastic performance as lead Rust Cohle, the eccentric with plenty of problems. Both characters in fact are incredibly unique and extremely well developed, with their own flaws making them far from perfect lead characters. For example, a quote in The Locked Room is great at describing the characters. Martin asks Rust “You Ever Wonder if You’re A Bad Man?” and Rust replies, “No I don’t wonder Marty. The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from knocking at the door.” The show itself is full of great dialogue not just limited to the one that I’ve presented as an example here, expertly delivered by the various characters. Harrelson’s Martin is just as developed as his partner Rust Cohle, and it’s great to see how these characters interactions continue to change over the course of the series, ever changing and ever shaping, rather than in the case of some shows, where the connection between the characters hardly ever change over the whole series, let alone in a whole season.  
The cinematography of True Detective is excellent and the show itself looks amazing. There’s a really long tracking shot towards the end of the fourth episode that is one of the highlights of the series and probably one of the best moments of television that you’ll see this year. It’s just exceptional. Like True Blood, True Detective is also set in Louisiana and it’s incredibly distinctive. The landscape looks great and it really helps give True Detective that iconic landscape feel that really helps it appeal to fans of the likes of Justified, Banshee and Longmire. It’s amazing just how much work is put into the detail of the series (the soundtrack is also amazing as well, and the opening theme, Far From Any Road, is just perfect) to make this series look spectacular.
However, as good as True Detective is, and don’t get me wrong, it’s good – one of my Top 5 favourite series from 2014, in fact, it doesn’t quite hit the mark in all the places. For example, the ending itself is rather underwhelming after some great build up, and it’s safe to say that the series isn’t exactly the fastest moving series of all time either, with a couple of filler episodes that really shouldn’t be there in a series that’s only eight episodes long.
However, despite that though, True Detective still manages to stand out as one of the best television series of 2014 thanks to a blend of good acting, great development and good plotting for the most part. The split narrative between the past and present, currently being deployed in Showtime’s The Affair, is excellent to see and the amount of work put into this season is excellent. Its well worth you time to catch up on especially as it’s only eight episodes long. Highly Recommended.

VERDICT: 9/10
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