Saturday 20 December 2014

Why True Detective is the best show I’ve seen since the Wire

Published 24/02/2014 | 10:54

THERE, I’ve said it. Maybe I should give it a little more time to impress before throwing out such plaudits but True Detective has all the hallmarks of being one of the great TV shows of this - or any other - year.

Perhaps more impressively than that, it stars Matthew McConaughey – an actor hitherto apparently content to spend his working hours advertising aftershave with no shirt on. Yep, that guy.

But there’s nothing ordinary about True Detective.

From the trippy, unsettling opening credits of the debut episode, The Long Bright Dark, the mood is established – this was was going to be a dark exploration of the recess of the human soul.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it (and you’ll have plenty of opportunities this week as Sky Atlantic specialises in repeating shows many, many times), drop everything and watch it. Now, if possible.

Opening in 2012 with the main narrative flashing back to 1995, Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) are a couple of former cops who are being interviewed over a case.

In the intervening years, Cohle, a man “who’d pick a fight with the sky” looks like he’s been dragged through a forest backwards. He lost his baby daughter years before and he’s in a full smackdown with his demons,  with hooch being his closest pal .

Hart and Cohle were once homicide detectives in rural Louisiana. Hart, we learn from the interviews taking place, knew very little about his partner before the defining case of their careers.

A young woman’s body is found tied to a tree, crowned with antlers and a spiral design has been imprinted on her back.

To tell you too much about the show would ruin it. Better that you find out for yourself.

And even if you're not a fan of the police procedural drama, there's a heady vein of characterisation here.

Forget the murder, the sheer complexity of the relationship between Hart and Cohle would be worth tuning in for.

Added to this, this is arguably the best looking drama to come out of the US all year, the landscapes of Louisiana taking on a shimmering, ghostly like quality.

True Detective does not tolerate fools – the dialogue and the accents are dense (at one stage, Cohle waxes at length on the very nature of human consciousness in his partner’s car) but nothing feels forced, nothing out of synch.

Don't take my word for it - find out for yourself.

Only problem is you'll be wishing your life away until the next episode rolls around.

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