Magazine article Variety

True Detective

Magazine article Variety

True Detective

Article excerpt

True Detective

SERIES: HBO, Sun. June 21.9 p.m.

WRITER: NiC PiZZOlattO

STARRING: Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch

Those expecting anything approaching the magic conjured by the original Matthew McConaughey-Woody Harrelson pairing should immediately temper their enthusiasm for "True Detective's" second season. Impeccably cast around its marquee stars, the new plot possesses the requisite noir-ish qualities, but feels like a by-the-numbers potboiler, punctuated by swooping aerial shots of L.A. courtesy of new director Justin Lin, whose intense close-ups bring to mind a Sergio Leone Western. Although generally watchable, the inspiration that turned the first into an obsession for many seems to have drained out of writer Nie Pizzolatto's prose, at least three hours into this eightepisode run.

Somehow, the first installment managed to take TV's most venerable genre and put a fresh coat of paint on it, thanks to the intoxicating mix of McConaughey's unorthodox, philosophizing cop, its grisly crime and the time-bending narrative. Here, Pizzolatto more straightforwardly plows ahead, featuring four disparate characters whose paths begin to intersect only near the end of the first hour.

The quartet features three cops and one criminal, the last played by Vince Vaughn, whose character, Frank Semyon, is desperately pursuing a land deal that will allow him to go legit. Still, a complication, in the form of a dead body, threatens to derail those plans, while creating an awkward alliance among a boozing detective (Colin Farrell, somewhat playing against type), a brooding highway-patrol motorcycle cop (Taylor Kitsch) and a sheriff's detective (Rachel McAdams), each of whom sports a constipated look indicative of a painful past, a personal secret, a bad attitude or some combination of all three.

There's a bit of happenstance in what unites them, which helps explain why the premiere requires considerable patience. Indeed, if ever a high-profile series called for a binge model to get past the producers' decision to slowly tease out plot, this would be the poster child.

Once the ball gets rolling, though, the new "Detective" feels increasingly mundane - in tone and style, a bit like a lesser Michael Mann movie stretched out in episodic form. Part of that might have to do with the necessity of serving the multiple leads, at the expense of the focus on two that the first enjoyed. …

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