By Daniel DeMarco |Copy Editor|
Recent years have brought us some excellent television series which challenge even the quality of revered products released in theaters.
HBO’s “True Detective” is one of those series that seems to often get stepped over in discussion of quality television, but it deserves your attention if it hasn’t gotten it already.
In early 2014, the series debuted as a not-so-typical crime drama, starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as two detectives engaged in a sprawling investigation for a serial killer in the deep south of Louisiana.
The series was met with widespread critical acclaim, which made a follow-up season inevitable.
Season two is already underway—now three episodes in—and it is clear that its successful qualities have not waned.
“True Detective” incorporates
a somewhat-new formula of using each season to act as its own individual storyline, also seen in the FX series “American Horror Story” and planned to be used in FX’s series “Fargo,” to create an anthology rather than a single cumulative story.
Nic Pizzolatto, the series’ creator and writer, has created a police/crime drama that sets itself apart from most.
The picture he paints for us viewers is a strikingly dark one with complex antihero-like characters making their way through a world that only works with many shades of gray.
The ante was upped from season one where we now have a lead cast of four characters, all perplexing in their own unique ways; it’s a gourmet plate for those who desire and are intrigued by the intricacies and multiple dimensions of deep characters.
Frank Seymon, played by Vince Vaughn, is a high-profile criminal attempting to transition to
a legitimate life as an entrepreneur and businessman, who can’t quite shake the criminal elements of his life as his business aspirations fall apart.
heard of Vaughn’s casting in the show, I was skeptical; I couldn’t picture him being a good fit in a show as serious and dark as this one.
After just the first episode,
my doubts were abandoned and all Vaughn’s comedy films and funny-guy characters proved to be just one dimension of an actor who has a lot more to offer.
Rachel McAdams plays
Ani Bezzerides—perhaps the strongest character, mentally and emotionally—a detective who wanted to leave her distinctly unusual upbringing behind and make something of herself where others around her failed.
Taylor Kitsch plays
Officer Paul Woodrugh, a highly reserved war veteran with a mysterious, dark past that has affected him intensely, separating him from the world into his own guarded mind.
Collin Farrell wraps up the lead as Ray Velcoro, a corrupt detective tied to Vaughn’s character, swirling in a downward spiral after a bad childhood and a failed marriage that produced a son—the only remaining thing Farrell’s character seems to care about in the world—who may not even be his, after his then-wife was raped, which left a permanent scar on his psyche.
These characters all dwell in the fictional southern California city of Vinci—what you or I would call Los Angeles in nonfictional terms—and the setting works beautifully in enhancing the dark, yet glitzy, persona of the underbelly world they inhabit.
We find the characters
wrapped up in a storyline that begins with a city manager disappearing just before he was to present the plans for a real estate development project. His partner for the project is Seymon (Vaughn) who comes to find that his problems don’t stop with his business partner missing.
Some days later, the city manager is found dead, after being visibly tortured, and our three law enforcement leads are assigned to the case to find out who did it, and what the city manager was involved in that led to his murder.
When writing about the show and its various elements, I can’t escape using the word “dark”—it is the word that captures it, not in a literal sense, but in its atmosphere. Season one certainly captured that tone, and season two has not strayed from the same, thus far.
There is something intriguing about the darker side of humanity and the darker aspects of society, and when it’s well written into a narrative, it makes for a fascinating product of character study and gripping story.
Those who share this same sentiment will fall head-over-heels for Pizzolatto’s “True Detective”—another series to keep your anticipation high, week after week.