“True Detective” is one hell of a series propelled with sharp writing, enough of mystery plot to keep one’s involvement and, most of all, incredible performances particularly from Matthew McConaughey who is yet again in top form and an amazing follow-up to his Oscar winning performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club and for this, he’ll be in the race for an Emmy.
Genre(s): Drama, Crime
Warner Home Video | – 458 min. – $79.98 | June 10, 2014
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
It’s not often a series captures my attention from beginning to end, to go along with an intricate story, amazing character development and two actors perhaps at the pinnacle of their careers is only icing on the cake. “True Detective” is one heck of a series but let me say, it’s not for everybody and is much more a (slow burn) character study than a murder mystery, though there are elements of that as well, especially in the last couple of episodes.
The series follows Louisiana State Police CID (Criminal Investigations Division) homicide detectives Rust Cohle (MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY) and Marty Hart (WOODY HARRELSON) and takes place over the span of 17 years. In 2012 two detectives (MICHAEL POTTS and TORY KITTLES) separately interview Cohle and Hart who outline the events that began in 1995 with the discovery of a young woman in a burning field, crouched with hands tied in front of a tree, wearing a crown of deer horns and a symbol painted on her back. We quickly learn that Cohle isn’t exactly a people person but is incredibly smart and intuitive while Hart is a bit more diplomatic. The two have only been partnered for a few months at this point and as smart as Cohle is, he’s equally irritating in his world viewpoint.
When the show isn’t examining the dynamics between Cohle and Hart, and in turn Cohle and the rest of the CID and its captain (played by KEVIN DUNN) who aren’t fond of Cohle’s cold demeanor, we do get focus on the mystery elements with Cohle and Hart doing the oft grueling and unrewarding legwork, hunting down leads from other leads, uncooperative witnesses, shady individuals and even a highly suspicious evangelical preacher with statewide political connections.
“True Detective” is an exercise in top notch acting, first and foremost Matthew McConaughey who is having quite the banner year between the Oscars and eventual Emmy nomination (going up against Bryan Cranston no less). In any case, here, McConaughey is almost unrecognizable even in his 1995/2002 form where he looks more like Christian Bale than the slick fella in The Lincoln Lawyer and he truly gets lost in the role and as a viewer, it’s not hard to be mesmerized by it all. Woody Harrelson unfortunately is overshadowed and doesn’t give as much of a nuanced performance but he plays off really well opposite McConaughey; Michelle Monaghan at first seemed to be the typical bitter cop’s wife but by episode 6 or 7 (can’t recall which at the moment), she develops some depth of her own that drives the story, and the characters, so well.
Now the show isn’t perfect with some bits that while I acknowledge were red herrings more than anything, deserved some sort of explanation (i.e. Hart’s daughter’s drawings) and it’s never explained why this serial killer who has abducted, murdered and hid numerous women, went through the trouble of making one so exposed in a ritualistic way for authorities to find and investigate. Also, as strong as the first 7 episodes were, the finale was a bit of a letdown and does delve into cliché territory with the takedown, that being said, the final 10-minutes is something of pure emotion and just about makes up for any shortcomings.
1. The Long Bright Dark
2. Seeing Things
3. The Locked Room
4. Who Goes There
5. The Secret Fate of All Life
6. Haunted Houses
7. After You’re Gone
8. Form and Void
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5
The 3-disc set comes housed in a foldout digipak which is housed in a thick cardboard slip case. Inside there is a Digital Copy redemption code good for iTunes and/or UltraViolet.
Inside the Episode (TRT 36:01 HD) is available for each one where Executive Producer/Creator Nic Pizzolatto and Director Cary Fukunaga explore various elements of the episode from story to characters.
Deleted Scene (6:17; HD) on Episode 3, ‘The Locked Room’
Audio Commentaries – The only two tracks are for ‘Who Goes There’ with Series Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Nic Pizzolatto and Composer T Bone Burnett and ‘The Secret Fate of All Life’ with Series Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Nic Pizzolatto, Composer T Bone Burnett and Executive Producer Scott Stephens.
Making “True Detective” (15:02; HD) is a basic but interesting behind-the-scenes featurette with on-set cast/crew interviews as they chat up on the characters and story.
Deleted Scene (3:40; HD) on Episode 8, ‘Form and Void’
Up Close with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (8:03; HD) has the stars together breaking down four key scenes from the season.
A Conversation with Nic Pizzolatto and Composer T Bone Burnett (14:25; HD) finds the two chatting up on the music and score.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
“True Detective”: Season 1 arrives on Blu-ray presented with a 1.78 widescreen transfer and in 1080p high-definition (AVC codec). The picture looks brilliant with excellent detail levels, a nice pop even through the bleak material and blacks are stark and show no obvious signs of artifacts, pixilation or compression. Having not seen this in its original airing, I can’t make any comparisons, but I’d say it’s on par if not a tad better looking.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track might not initially wow anyone yet through much of the series you come to appreciate the breadth and depth of this lossless track. Dialogue sounds nicely crisp and clear while the front and rear channels are mostly used for T Bone Burnett’s haunting score, the various choice music as well as some ambient noises.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, “True Detective” is one hell of a series propelled with sharp writing, enough of mystery plot to keep one’s involvement and, most of all, incredible performances particularly from Matthew McConaughey who is yet again in top form and an amazing follow-up to his Oscar winning performance in Dallas Buyer’s Club and for this, he’ll be in the race for an Emmy. Beyond that, at only 8 episodes, it is a breeze to get through so long as you don’t mind some of the slow burn pace as this is far more a character study than a plot you’d see any given week on “Criminal Minds”, so with that it’s not for everybody.
The Blu-ray released by Warner/HBO offers excellent video and audio transfers and the special features, while not entirely special, has enough to give a glimpse into the process but little else (kind of wished for more than two commentaries and with various members of the cast and/or crew). As it is, it’s a fine set and should be available fairly cheap soon.