The Reviews Are In: HBO’s “True Detective” Season 1 is The Best Show of the Decade

HBO's True Detective, Season 1
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The Best Show of the Decade
HBO’s True Detective, Season 1, is the best show of the last decade. I had heard about how good this show is from friends and acquaintances, who told me they could not stop watching it, that they watched the entire season in a 2-day binge. Finally, last week, I got around to watching it. And I was transfixed.

My Take on True Detective, season 1
I’ve yet to see a show as captivating, as mesmerizing, as haunting as this one. Watching HBO’s True Detective, Season 1, is a profound experience. The performances are stellar. The writing is profound. The music, the cinematography, the casting, the setting, all the details simmer to create a perfect stew of intense flavor that satisfies on so many different levels. In a word, True Detective, Season 1, is remarkable.

Amazon Prime Customer Reviews of True Detective, season 1

Click here to read the Amazon Prime members reviews of True Detective, Season 1.

The world needs bad men …
review: A. Enfroy

“You’re not gonna win the Oscar, no matter how hard you try.”

8 episodes. 2 Hollywood actors. 1 director. 1 writer. 1 extraordinary show.

From the mind of Nic Pizzolatto comes True Detective, a dark, profound and masterful crime thriller set in the bayous of Louisiana. Written with a philosophical and sharp acuity, True Detective tells the story of two detectives (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) and their 17- year manhunt for a deranged serial killer.

This is not an ordinary cop show. It isn’t about tidy cases, chasing perps or trailing leads. There isn’t red tape, standard procedures or closure at the end of the day. What you will find is broken marriages, darkness inherent in the human soul, and philosophical notions on the meaning (or lack thereof) of life.

McConaughey and Harrelson as Rust Cohle and Martin Hart make an unlikely and surprisingly fascinating duo. Cohle is a dark, abstract individual, living alone, full of loss and discontentment with life. He has visions and hallucinations from his 4 years undercover in narcotics. However he is also very smart, rational and lucid, understanding who he is as a human being and his place in the universe. Hart is a seemingly responsible, everyday family man that takes his job seriously. He has a good heart, but through his need for control, manipulates people to his own selfish and destructive ends. They are both dark, bad men. But as Cohle says, “The world needs bad men. They keep the other bad men from the door.” There is a yin/yang, religious/atheist, rational/irrational relationship that is both thoughtful and humorous to watch.

True Detective is a self-contained 8 episode anthology series. Each season will feature a new cast and story, completely unrelated to the previous one. This is the future of the story-telling medium. 8 episodes allows Hollywood actors to commit to the show without a huge time commitment. 1 writer keeps the story uniform as there’s no writer’s room or a panel of writers changing each season. 1 director and cinematographer keeps the vision clear and consistent.

Director Cary Fukunaga does a remarkable, Oscar-worthy job. The realism, tone and pacing are on par with anything I’ve seen on screen. The 6- minute tracking shot at the end of episode 4 is one of the best single shots in television history.

This is as good as it gets for modern television. After Breaking Bad I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to wait for something this good. I didn’t expect something this masterful to come along so fast. If you’re an action fan, don’t like to think too much, or want closure each episode, this show is not for you. But if you want to be challenged, to watch a show that makes you think, doesn’t give you all the answers, and keeps you up at night, then you’re in for a thrill ride.

True Detective the tree

Darkness in us all and what it’s good for
review: Paul Norseman

Not often you run across a work like this acted out so well. As far as two actors I enjoy greatly, MM and WH probably their most memorable acting jobs yet. I think what strikes me most about this is the philosophical aspect of the characters, their lives, desires, weakness, strengths and how the world perceives them wrongly. How sometimes you must embrace the darkness within to fight for what is good and right.

All of this is framed within the 20+ years of cult/ritual killing and the disintegration of their lives/egos. All I can say is the play on good/bad, light/dark is completely profound. Stability in things/people you look down upon, complete degradation in the highest moral places and the battle two very different men fight within themselves to hold back evil.

A tale of two very different people finding themselves and the meaning of life as they push back against evil.

True Detective

Must see!!!
review: H.E. Petrone

I love this first season of True Detective! I have watched it through multiple times, made my friend watch it through, and finally had to purchase it for my very own, so I could watch it through whenever I wanted!
Every time I watch this show, I pick up on dialog that I missed in previous viewings. In my opinion, that is the best part of this series. Matthew McConaughey’s dialog is so well written and his portrayal of his character is spot on believable. There is such an interesting dynamic between the characters played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The acting is amazing and the story is so captivating. I bit my nails, laughed out loud, and hung on every word of every episode.

It is clear to see the time and effort put into this story by the writer. Unfortunately, the momentum didn’t carry over into the second season of True Detective, but that is fine with me. This first season is such a fascinating story, such an interesting series, that it can be watched independently multiple times.

If for no other reason, you have to watch season of True Detective simply for Matthew McConaughey’s monologues. His character has such a unique and realistic view on life and society and organized religion. At first glance, it might seem harsh, but then you quickly realize that it is what makes him so amazing at what he does. The balance between his character and Woody Harrelson’s character is perfect.

There isn’t a dull moment in this season. It will pull you in and have you begging for more!

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

The best I have seen
review: Daniel W. Bleier

I am a rabid fan – so you will get another rhapsodic review here. Not that there are not flaws here – HBO seems determined to showcase a certain amount of female nudity in its series – and there are moments when having Woody’s character demonstrate the hypocrisy and corruption he inhabits, but the show lingers on flesh well beyond what is needed to make a point.

Having said that – what an amazing effort and result. Name another show that attempts the level of complexity and daring this one does – and succeeds on every level. My quick view on what works:

1. Introduces a dark and daring world view – see “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” for the basis of Rust’s worldview – anti-natalism, the belief that self awareness is an evolutionary mistake…weaving that viewpoint into a mainstream series seems beyond daring.

2. Search Engine referencing – It is clear that Nic Pizzolatto understands his audience and the eagerness they search for Easter eggs and hidden reference points. Never before have I seen a series that moves those reference points into the body of the drama and out of the shadow of an aside. Referring the “The Yellow King” is never explained, but the context it gives to the madness spread in these small Louisiana towns is essential. Why doesn’t the writer explain it? He knows you will google it.

3. Soundtrack – to be expected from T-Bone Burnett, but truly a perfect score and selection of songs.

4. Visuals – the decay and vastness of the Louisiana coastline shrink the 2 men at the center of the story, oppresses them. You can feel the swampland pressing in on our notions of permanence.

5. Violence – unlike the nudity, most of the violence feels right and appropriate – with the worst taking place off screen and therefore more terrifying.

6. Views into the past – Having the character’s relate the story some years later as the literary device is highly effective – and somewhat missed at the end of the series.

At the end of the day, I would rather watch some of these episodes for the 4th or 5th time than watch much of the dreck that passes for entertainment today.

True Detective

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About kris kemp

Hi. I'm a writer, musician, photographer, traveler, real estate investor, and the author of 3 ebooks, a novel, 2 musicals, 5 screenplays, and a collection of journals. Although I have a variety of interests, they share the common theme of freedom--time freedom, health freedom, financial freedom, emotional freedom, spiritual freedom.

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