Heard a lot about HBO’s “True Detective” over the years, and over the past week finally had a chance to give it a whirl. It’s a slow-burn detective story about two anti-heroic cops who stop a serial killer.
McConaughey and Harrelson turn in the sort of excellent dramatic performance we’ve come to expect. The central mystery has the sort of twists and turns elegantly laid out and revealed with perfect timing. The bad guys are nasty, the crimes heinous, and the eight episode season includes one of the best shoot-out scenes I’ve ever seen.
The setting – Louisiana’s deep, deep swamps and bayous, are loving shown and play an integral role in the story that makes the setting almost a character in its own right. This show wouldn’t work anywhere else in America. The culture of coastal Lousiana and the labyrinthine swamps and islands and the characters that our two heroes(?) have to wade through make this a decidedly cajan story. Transplanting this mystery to the Ozarks or NYC or, god forbid, LA, would require the removal and rewriting of so much atmosphere and background that the result would be an entirely different tale, and one not likely to evoke such gloomy ambiance.
Unfortunately, the show is really slow. I mean, really, really slow. The long, loving establishing shots of a nice car driving through past wide vistas of swamps backlit by massive chemical plants are the least of the issues. Alone, those help to establish the dreamy, steamy side of Cajun country. The problem arises when the show repeatedly lingers on the relationship drama and the long winded philosophizing of McConaughey’s character. Good stuff in small doses, but two hands that are vastly overplayed in the show. We get it, already, get to the catching of the bad guys!
My fast-forward finger got a serious workout while watching this show. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t a good show, just that you should be ready to skip past the “HBO-y” scenes to get to the good stuff.
Spoilerific review coming on Friday.