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True Detective “The Long Bright Dark” Review (1×01)

13 Jan

o-TRUE-DETECTIVE-TRAILER-facebookTelevision these days is overrun with generic cop shows, shows that send out a buddy cop team each week to solve a crime in 60 minutes. We also have a bunch of serial killer shows, shows that attempt to explore the depths of the criminals, but end up reveling in grotesque violence and shocking twists. True Detective seems to just be a mash-up of those two genres, but it really isn’t.

The show is all about attention to detail, whether it be through the character interactions or the general atmosphere. It’s a world that draws you in, and the directorial touches and cinematography create an intoxicating, compelling environment. Of course, the most intriguing aspect of the show is the central Hart-Cohle relationship, played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, respectively. The great thing about it is that, while both are fantastic in their own right, they’re both as intriguing as they are because of the other person. McConaughey and Harrelson play off each other very well, whether it be in the car discussions where Hart’s playing the role of a disapproving dad of sorts or when Cohle shows up drunk at the dinner, where we can see the sympathy–without much knowledge of his past–extended toward him by Hart.

There are also a multitude of subtle touches by the two actors, most notably in their reactions to the murder. We can tell exactly why these two men are so different at the same time as we can tell why they’re together, and that’s a testament to both the fantastic acting and writing. The dinner scene in particular is a masterpiece, slowly bringing in other facets of Hart’s life and raising the curiosity levels of Cohle; Harrelson also does great work here with his restrained expression as his partner decides to stay and talk.

Ultimately, the pilot accomplishes what it set out to do: throw us into its characters and its world. There’s a gritty realism that permeates the show; neither Hart nor Cohle is one thing. They may each have a general categorization, but the show does a nice job of blurring the lines between the two. A fair amount of stale storylines are thrown in there–Hart is cheating, for example–but even the most groan-worthy moments seem like genuine outgrowths of these characters. That just makes them all the more interesting.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-I love the interview framing style; it serves as a nice way to play off of the flashbacks, and the personalities in the present seem like logical progressions from their past situations.

-McConaughey’s been on a role this year. Between this, Dallas Buyers Club (congrats on the GG win, by the way), Mud, and The Wolf of Wall Street, he’s slowly grown into one of the best actors in the game.

-Hart’s having an affair with the gorgeous Alexandra Daddario’s Lisa. I can’t blame him.

-Michelle Monaghan does some great work in that dinner scene.

-So nice to see Clarke Peters.

-“I don’t sleep, I just dream.” *Cue Woody Harrelson’s “Gimme a break” face*

-“Start asking the right fucking questions.” Beautifully done, McConaughey. I’m pumped for the rest of the season.

Photo credit: HBO, True Detective

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3 Responses to “True Detective “The Long Bright Dark” Review (1×01)”

  1. JustMeMike January 13, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    Great review. Who would have thought to set a detective show in some back-woodsy parish in Louisiana. I don’t expect the show to be easy to watch, or review. But you are off to a terrific start. I watched the GG’s from start to finish and then watched this on HBO after. I’m likely going to have to watch this opening episode again before doing my own review.

    • polarbears16 January 13, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Thank you! I’m looking forward to your review.

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