Saturday, February 08, 2014

[TV] Detectives, True

Detectives, True: True Detectives is the latest darling of blowhard elitist TV watchers like myself, and it's certainly worth watching. It is, primarily, an actor's showcase. Dominated by Matthew McConaughey's drawl-slow intonation of nihilist soliloquies, they take some riveting deep dives into the mind of a character, probably predisposed towards depression, who gave up on existence when his daughter was killed in a car accident. He has since only tenuously come to terms with not committing suicide and devoting his time in the world to police work. It's intelligent, yet chilling, stuff. Less mind-blowing, but equally skillful is Woody Harrelson's portray of his partner, a man completely invested in his illusions of the moral principle, and his self-justifications for violating it.

It's cleverly structured dramatically. The action takes place in the late nineties (ish?) and it is to a large extent narrated by the leads in the current day, under the guise of recapping the case because the initial records were lost in Katrina (the setting is Louisiana). However, the inscrutably silent present day cops who are taking notes of the recap clearly have an agenda beyond that -- a more current murder that is similar. So interestingly, we know that the leads solved the case in the first two minutes of the series. We know, roughly where they ended up in their lives. There is some suspense related to the present day murders, but the bulk of the interest is the personal story of the two leads, their backstories, and what they went through in solving the original case that resulted in their current state. I love this. I recently lamented that the only shows ever produced anymore we're crime based, there is little that is truly personal. This turning of the police procedural into a deep rumination on the depths of individual characters by rendering the "mystery" inert is brilliant. And it works because the characters, and their portrayal, are up to the task.

So when I tell you that the mystery seems to be little more than formulaic serial murder construct, it really doesn't matter all that much. In fact, it may almost be the whole point. I guess we'll see as it develops. But if you haven't been watching I suggest you binge to catch up. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that it ends as strong as it's started. Plus, if you're familiar with the show you'll get the humor in the True Detective Conversations tumbler.