True Detective 2, Sky Atlantic, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams

They’re mean, have unhealthy addictions and they’re scary – and that’s just the cops in the all-new True Detective

True Detective, Series 2, Sky Atlantic Key Art

True Detective, Series 2, Sky Atlantic

★★Sky Atlantic, starts Monday, 22 June, 9pm

SO, AS EXPECTED, it’s all change in True Detective. No more Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey or director Cary Joji Fukunaga framing his unsettling bayou backwaters.

Showrunner Nic Pizzolatto is back, however, and the big question for anyone who was transfixed and disturbed by series one is, how will the wholly made-over crime drama match-up?

The first episode is complex, introducing many new faces in a rush. We have Colin Farrell as cop-on-edge Ray Velcoro, who is in debt to criminal Frank Semyon, played by Vince Vaughn.

Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch

Rachel McAdams is Ani Bezzerides, a dedicated detective with screwed-up personal life. And the cop triumvirate is completed by Taylor Kitsch as highway patrolman Paul Woodrugh, whose problems range from erectile dysfunction to a suicidal motorcycling habit.

Oh, and Brit actress Kelly Reilly turns up as Frank Semyon’s wife, Jordan, no doubt relieved to have escaped ITV’s rather dull Above Suspicion.

The clever shifting time frames of series one are also gone, no doubt because so many characters need an overall linear storyline. This time it hangs on the construction of a new rail line and the incumbent corruption that goes with it.

A town called Vinci


Colin Farrell as Velcoro

The gothic mood of series one is replaced by Californian sprawl centred on an ugly place called Vinci, an industrial hell of cement mixers and factories, the biggest polluter in the state. As one character says, ‘What the fuck is Vinci?’ To which Ray Velcoro replies, ‘City, supposedly.’

You could probably devote the whole series to Velcoro, Bezzerides or Woodrugh, such is the airport-carousel of baggage each one is carrying. We first encounter Velcoro, who, naturally, is separated from his wife, as he tries to cheer his chubby son outside the school gates. When he later learns that the boy has been bullied, the fallout for the bully and his father at the hands of the flaky cop is chilling to behold.

As Velcoro sees it, ‘Sometimes a beating promotes personal growth.’

[Read more…]

True Detective episode 8 PREVIEW

Cohle’s stash of evidence in a lock-up garage. Pics: Sky Atlantic

Sky Atlantic, Saturday 12 April, 9pm
True Detective is also available in the UK on Now TV

TONIGHT we go into the belly of the beast.

From the opening scenes, it is clear that what Rust Cohle and Martin Hart are up against and it is fairly nightmarish.

It would obviously be wrong for me to give away what occurs, but I would just say the final episode is no letdown. It is incredibly tense, frightening and moving.

True Detective confirms the view that US television as made by the subscription channels such as HBO, makers of this series, and AMC etc is far superior to anything in the UK. British series such as Line of Duty – particularly the second season – and The Fall have been very good, but in terms of ambition and depth they are far smaller than the likes of True Detective.

What have they got? Hart and Cohle

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey have put in blockbuster performances as the mismatched detective partners. In just eight episodes it feels as though we have been on a huge journey with them.

And we have. True Detective has dazzled with its time-shifting narrative, its travels through the decades, from 1995 to 2002 to 2012.

It has teased us with horror literature references, alluding, for example, to RW Chambers’s macabre short story collection The King in Yellow, first published in 1895, which, combined with the eerie depiction of the bayou, give the series its ominous, disorientating mood.

There is a fictional play in that story collection called The King in Yellow, the merest glimpse of whose second act will apparently drive men insane. All of

Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey)

which bodes ill for Cohle and Hart tonight.

McConaughey has had the show-stealing part, his bleak, logical, loopy monologues transfixing us and infuriating Hart. But, ultimately, his alienation is clear and understandable, as we learn by the end.

Nic Pizzolatto, the series creator and writer, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga will now be closely watched to see what conjure up next.

So what is next? Brad Pitt is said to be a target for season two, as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson move on to other things. There are also rumours that the two protagonists will be women next time round.

Or not. Maybe there’ll be a team of cops. Pizzolatto has hinted the setting could move west to California

Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson)

and involve ‘hard women, bad men and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system’.

Now that sounds intriguing.

Meantime, try these links…

True Detective on Sky Atlantic
True Detective on HBO, a superb site
‘Undumbing of American TV’ in the Daily Telegraph
‘What British drama can learn from True Detective’ in the Daily Telegraph
What Might Season 2 Have in Store from Den of Geek

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True Detective, Sky Atlantic, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson PREVIEW

Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, True Detective, Sky Atlantic
Trailer parks and pop-up churches – detectives Hart and Cohle canvass for clues. Pics: Sky Atlantic

Rating: ★★★★½

Sky Atlantic: starts Saturday, 22 February, 9pm

Story: 1995 – Detectives Martin Hart and Rust Cohle, partners in Louisiana’s Criminal Investigation Division, are assigned to a macabre murder by a killer with disturbing occult leanings. In 2012, a similar case leads to the investigation being re-opened…

WOWSER –  a new series from HBO. In contemporary TV terms, the people that brought you The Sopranos, The Wire and Game of Thrones, are definitely the gold standard.

Not that HBO is perfect (don’t mention John from Cincinnati, Tell Me You Love Me, 12 Miles of Bad Road) – but when it gets a drama right, it’s appointment viewing.

Woody Harrelson as Detective Hart, True Detective, Sky Atlantic
Woody Harrelson as Hart in 1995

True Detective is a bullseye. It has two of Hollywood’s most interesting actors, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, in a rich and engrossing eight-parter.

While at it’s core it is a whodunit, True Detective – like ITV’s excellent Broadchurch last year – is far superior to those clapped-out series that start with a corpse and proceed with half-dead characters asking, Where were you on the night of the 14th?

It is the story of two men, detectives Martin Hart (Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (McConaughey), with a grisly crime as the backdrop.

Hart is an average guy, Cohle is deep and aloof

Matthew McConaughey as Cohle, True Detective, Sky Atlantic
Matthew McConaughey as Cohle in 2012

Hart and Cohle are not buddies. As Hart says, ‘You don’t pick your parents and you don’t pick your partner.’

Hart is a normal guy, stressed by his job, with a wife and kids, average outlook on life. Cohle is deep, aloof, voicing opinions about people being wrong to think they are somebody, when in fact they are nothing and should stop reproducing.

Watching Hart and Cohle just driving in a car is one of the drama’s lighter moments. ‘I just wish you would stop saying shit like, “This is someone’s memory of a town,”‘ moans Hart.

Investigating a grisly murder

Michelle Monaghan as Maggie Hart, True Detective, Sky Atlantic
Michelle Monaghan as Maggie Hart

The thing is, we know what Cohle means, and Hart can’t help but admire the partner he can’t get along with. The low-rent Louisana town where they are digging for clues really looks like a washed-out memory.

It is the murder of a prostitute, found posed in a field with occult props, that bonds and tests the partners. The narrative splits revealingly between 1995, the year of the murder, 2002, and 2012, when a similar crime occurs and the two investigators, who now haven’t seen each other for 10 years, are interviewed about the original case.

By then, Cohle has long hair and a serious booze habit, and Hart is chubby and talks with a sneaking sense of loss about his former partner.

Written by Nic Pizzolatto

The setting is bleak and forbidding, the characters look like normal people (the cops mostly all overweight), and the story is fascinating and compelling.

Written by novelist Nic Pizzolatto, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Jane Eyre), True Detective is also produced by its two leading stars and feels like a project they’re really invested in.

When there is so much crime drama dross around, it’s great that HBO can still pull-off a quality show that takes you on a journey with characters who grip you by the lapels.

Cast: Matthew McConaughey Rust Cohle, Woody Harrelson Martin Hart, Michelle Monaghan Maggie Hart,  Michael Potts Det. Maynard Gilbough, Tory Kittles Papania, Bruce Elliott Trustee-Levi, Madison Wolfe Audrey Hart, Randal Gonzalez Detective Gonzalez, David Stephen Mitchell Promise Keeper, Eric Price Detective Shinn

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