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True Detective - Pilot - Advance Review

     When regular movie stars suddenly join a television series, it’s fairly common for people to go out of their way to watch it. It’s assumed that the acting will be spot on and that it could potentially be the only project that a regular 3 movies a year actor works on for a while. To sum that all up, it’s normally assumed that the show will be good. True Detective is a case where it is indeed safe to assume.

     The show centers around two detectives working in Louisiana. The framing device of the series is similar to How I Met You Mother in that the story is told through flashbacks. The pilot has a great mix of story and flash-forward for the narration. The most interesting aspect of the show is the transition between past and present. We know that things have changed between 1995 and 2012, but what caused the massive change is unknown. As the writers allow us more and more info on the transformation of our two central characters, I think it may become clearer what lies for the two after 2012. This will undoubtedly take a long time to get to, but I am sure it will be worth the wait.

     Matthew McConaughey plays Rust Cohle and there’s no easy way to say it; he’s nuts. He is certifiably nuts. His outlook on life is without a doubt the most depressing thing that I have ever heard and on top of this even Mathew McConaughey describes his character as “an asshole”. They say that the two things to never bring up are religion and politics. With this guy, I would be afraid to say anything. He has an extremely complex peculiarity about him that allows him to turn any conversation into an “Alrighty then” moment. Based on the less-than-subtle hints in the pilot, I expect we will continue to learn about his past more over the series. Though Woody Harrelson’s Martin Hart describes Cohle as “always weird” I suspect that part of his past made him the way that he is.

     Martin Hart, in contrast to Rust Cohle, seems to be a decent human being. He has a nice, although a bit nosy, family. I suspect that we will get to see that change over the course of the series. It wouldn't be a drama if everything stayed perfect. While Martin would have the rest of his colleagues believe that he has a “perfect” family, we know that the likelihood of this existing is slim to none. Part of me wonders if this will be a central part of the show.

     Subsequently, while Martin Hart tries to view the world in an idealistic view, Rust Cohle is plain and upfront with what he sees. This is a fairly common aspect for a crime procedural to display. While one of the leads continually exhibits an odd behavior, the other lead character chastises them for it. The thing that makes True Detective different is that normally the two leads have to actually get along, at a bare minimum respect each other. In spite of this, Cohle and Hart have an odd combative relationship that I’m not sure I’ve seen before on television.

     Overall, I think HBO has struck gold with True Detective. It’s a show that while centered on a murder (possibly a future set of murders) it isn’t focused on that murder. After having watched the pilot, I know just enough about the murder to stay interested, but I know more about the characters than I expected. This makes character development not only interesting to watch, but also easy for the writers to execute. They have a place that they know the characters will go in 2012 and all they have to do is slowly take them there.

Rating: Solid A – It’s entertaining, different, and altogether enjoyable.

Tune in to True Detective on January 12 on HBO. Be sure to come back here to SpoilerTV to let everyone else know what you thought of the episode.

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