TN Film Review: “True Detective” (HBO, Sunday night)

HBO’s “True Detective” (Sunday night) is a major step forward in TV excellence. Putting big league actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson together with a well-written plot is a masterstroke. The season opener was exceptional, I think can be mentioned in the rarified air of the best TV productions of all time: “The Wire”, “Deadwood”, “The Killing”, “Breaking Bad” and “Homicide: Life on the Street” to name the top five.

“True Detective” is on the short list of game changers not so much because it’s good performance art, but for how it became good. The vision, perseverance and authority of the diminishing supply of writers that created it. David Milch wrote every word of “Deadwood” and his word was absolute law.  Vince Gilligan demanded his vision of “Breaking Bad” be portrayed the way he saw it and accepted the risk and hassle. Kurt Sutter owns “Sons of Anarchy” and lets his vision run completely free.

 Similarly, novelist, screenwriter, and producer Nic Pizzolatto writes each episode of “True Detective” and demands that his vision be interpreted the way he wants it and no other way.  There is no interference allowed from sponsors or network wonks. HBO is famous for staying out of the way of genius. The risk is the occasional flop along the way. There’s no guarantee every production will be a hit. Milch’s next productions “John from Cincinnati” and “Luck” were flops.

 These writers create fewer episodes per season with more energy and creativity packed into each episode. Eight episodes of meat & potatoes versus 22 episodes of massive sponsor advertising. They also elect to quit before the plot gets stale. “Deadwood” went only three seasons as Milch though he had maxed out everything he wanted to do with it and it was time to move on. “Justified” is scheduled to quit after one more season.

Returns from the season opener suggest that “True Detective” is a creative masterpiece and a popular hit. It carries the distinctive mark of creative writing and directing that HBO is committed to. See it this season. The chances of McConaughey and Harrelson signing up for another season is pretty slim. 

 

 

 

Returns from the season opener suggest that “True Detective” is a creative masterpiece and a popular hit. It carries the distinctive mark of creative writing and directing that HBO is committed to. See it this season. The chances of McConaughey and Harrelson signing up for another season is pretty slim. 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s