True Detective? True Dat!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

True Detective? True Dat!

This one kinda sneaked up on me, and as I recall the "teaser" promotions cable HBO did for the series... almost exclusively replying on the "star power" of it's two male leads, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson... it may have sneaked up on HBO as well.

(This one I hadn't seen before, though, nails it!)

In short, I don't think they knew what they had... although they must have an inkling at this point now that six of the eight hour-long episodes have aired since "True Detective" debuted January 12th.

To the extent that critics know anything, the series is cur­rently pulling down an 88/100 on the aggregate Meta­critic site, which also reports a 9.2/10 from your garden variety viewers.

(Even my #2 step-daughter, whose mother calls her "Sunshine," loves the series!)

Typical pulp periodical

I was initially mis-led by the title... growing up in a time when "the pulps" were still pop­ular, "True Detective" was considered the first "true crime" magazine, debuting in 1924. Featuring luridly detailed stories about crime and criminals, it attracted scores of imitators. Notable authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson were found in the pub­lication, which stayed in print until 1995.

So that was my mindset going into that Sunday night in January.

It was further reinforced in that first hour-long episode with references to "The King in Yellow," a 1938 short story by Raymond Chandler... except that the reference goes back even farther, likely even Chandler's source, the near legen­dary 1895 collection of ten tales of the macabre of the same name by Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933), and which also had a major influence on H.P. Lovecraft (1895-1937).

And yes, this material is something about which one could be endlessly discursive, so vast are series creator Nic Piz­zo­latto's references and inspirations.

So I'm editing myself here in an effort to recommend the series, not just for the top notch writing and the compelling narrative, as well as the stellar performances by Harrelson and McConaughey as well as Michelle Monaghan and others in the supporting cast such as Michael Potts ("Brother Mou­zone" from "The Wire").

(Potts has the distinction of having key supporting rolls in two of the top three cable series this century, and there's always a chance he could show up in "Justi­fied" over the next 18 months!)

If you subscribe to HBO, then you have access to HBO Go, so if you haven't seen the first six episodes, it's certainly worth binge-watching!


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