TV - True Detective Season 1, Episode 1

True Detective

The new US police drama with the stellar Hollywood cast gets a viewing by our own investigative burn out, Steve Taylor-Bryant...

True Detective is not your normal Police drama. This isn't watered down like CSI and whilst it is dark and grim in taste and tone it is not Hannibal either. What it is can be hard to explain but bear with me if you don't understand that I call it a visual novel.

Most shows both from the US and the UK now have a similar structure. You have a showrunner/Executive Producer, a team of writers and various directors and, with many shows, sometimes the feed can be lost episode to episode due to the different visions of the team involved.

True Detective is written by one man, Nic Pozzolatto, and directed by one man, Cary Fukunaga, so the entire eight episode run will be driven by the one shared vision. Pizzolatto is an author of some repute, a lecturer of fiction and literature and a native of the Louisiana that True Detective is set in, hence why the show is more novel like than TV normality. The problem is when you have something this well written, whether you are a novice Executive or someone steeped in Television, you need a cast that carry the story to fruition.

Enter Hollywood heavyweights Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, a duo I have been so excited to see together in a project like this. Harrelson carries off the strange and the damaged so well that his casting as the relatively normal family man Martin Hart threw me from the start. McConaughey, whose star is rising recently, plays the damaged one this time with his almost psychotic portrayal of Rust Cohle. Cohle spouts philosophy and harbours a darkness deep inside him driven by grief.

In 1995, on their first case together, Cohle and Hart investigate and rightly think they have solved the murder of Dora Lang but in the present day and long after their retirement from the force the pair are questioned about the investigation and the methods used when the Dora Lang case is reopened.

True Detective flicks from scenes of the pair of Louisiana Policemen in the 1990's, going about the investigation and building their relationship as new partners, and the interview room nowadays. The dual setting works really well and immediately you are drawn to Cohle as a fascinating character and the certain tension developing between the men is a great watch. It is McConaughey that steals the episode though in the modern setting of the interview room. The dishevelled, unstable Cohle of the modern era is difficult, dark and very hard to read and McConaughey pulls off a damn fine performance that maybe a few years ago no one would have thought him capable of. That doesn't mean that Harrelson doesn't impress though. The chemistry between the two actors and the combined talent each offers brings performances from both. Perhaps in the relative normality of Hart, Harrelson is proving more talented as he won't usually play a role so understated.

There is more to come from True Detective, this is only chapter one and may indeed be a slow burner, but get into it now before it explodes. Not very often is television this brilliant.

Image - IMDb.