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‘True Detective’: HBO’s Crime Drama Is Matthew McConaughey’s Best Work

Mon, January 13, 2014 11:06am EDT by Shaunna Murphy 4 Comments
True Detective Premiere Review
Courtesy of HBO

While Matthew McConaughey was doling out ‘alright, alright, alrights’ at the Golden Globes on Jan. 12, he was also securing next year’s trophy over on HBO, with the premiere of his dark, gritty new crime drama ‘True Detective.’

Matthew McConaughey‘s career transformation from rom-com stoner goof to awards season staple has been mesmerizing. He continued his remarkable winning streak on Jan. 12 with True Detective, an unapologetically‎ dark, tense, and cynical crime anthology series that proved itself to be a must-watch with its premiere, “The Long Bright Dark.”

McConaughey & Harrelson Make ‘True Detective’ A Must-Watch

Reel Genius: ‘True Detective’

Here’s the basic spiel, in case you missed it: Rust Cohle (Matthew) and Marty Hart (an equally impressive Woody Harrelson) were Louisiana State Police officers together from 1995 to 2002. The action moves back and forth between the fascinating ’95 murder case that defined their careers, and modern-day interview footage that reveals a few fascinating truths — first and foremost that the relationship between the two drastically different men was somehow destroyed after this case, to the point where they haven’t spoken in a decade.

It’s understandable, since the 1995 scenes that revolve around the case itself — the ritualistic, possibly occult killing of prostitute Dora Lang — out Rust as a depressed, tortured, world-weary, and ultimately unlikable drunk. It would honestly be too much to handle if Marty (a family man, who has very different demons of his own) weren’t around to keep things on track… but he is, and the dynamic between the two men is one of the most exciting things I’ve seen on television in quite some time (the real-life long-term friendship between Matthew and Woody definitely helps).

Plus, the show (created by Nic Pizzolatto) makes the wise, Twin Peaks-esque decision to make the 1995 scenes much more focused on the sad cast of characters in the haunting “memory of a town” than the cut-and-dry details of the case itself (which is still very interesting, to be fair). Rust and Marty are both slightly obsessed with figuring out what makes the other man tic, and watching them explore that natural desire — especially when it comes to Rust’s relationship with Marty’s wife and kids — should be delightful, given the uneasy tension that permeates every scene they share.

1995 stole the show last night, but what’s happening in 2012, which was teased toward the end of the episode, should prove to be equally fascinating. Whatever happened between Hart and Cohle clearly sent the men on two very different trajectories, since Hart seems to be some sort of corporate success and Cohle looks like a Duck Dynasty character only drunker and much, much thinner. (Guessing this was shot after Dallas Buyers Club?) Both men are being questioned (separately) about the specifics of the ’95 case — and, fascinatingly, their relationship — for yet-unknown reasons, but it’s pretty clear that, even though they supposedly caught the killer back in the day, the grim, occult-related murders are happening again.

Does this mean that Hart and Cohle will reunite in the present day and confront their many issues? Did one or both of them know that they’d gone after the wrong man in ’95? Will things between Cohle and Hart’s wife get “interesting” in the near future? I don’t know, but I haven’t been this enthralled by a TV murder case in quite some time, and I can’t wait to find out. There are only seven episodes left, so be sure to tune in to HBO next Sunday to get the latest fix of True Detective.

What did you think of the show? Do you agree that McConaughey will be back at the Globes accepting Best TV Actor this time next year? Let us know in the comments!

— Shaunna Murphy

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