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'True Detective' Review: New Series Disturbs the Psyche and Pushes Police Drama Genre Forward

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By Vincent Funaro, Christian Post Reporter
January 13, 2014|11:41 am

The new HBO original series "True Detective" starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson debuted this past Sunday and proved that there are still many themes to explore within the police drama.

The show follows the lives of two detectives, Martin Hart (Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (McConaughey), giving their account of a murder case from 1995 to new detectives in 2012. This allows the series to play out in two different time zones and features older and younger versions of both characters.

Hart and Cohle, who are no longer partners in the present day, worked on a case in the '90s that involved the murder of prostitute Dora Lange. The homicide, which took place in rural Lousiana, appeared to be related to the occult. These two detectives oppose one another on most things as Rust, also known as the Tax Man, steps on toes with his unorthodox approach to his work and life while Martin Hart strives to keep some kind of normalcy while working on this deranged murder with a partner he doesn't trust.

The two have great chemistry despite their differences. An argument over faith sparked by the occult's alleged involvement in this murder begins to peel the layers off of Hart and Cohle, revealing their true intentions when it comes to all things spiritual. Rust mirrors Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs from the "Lethal Weapon" series as the job appears to be the only thing keeping him alive. He lost his daughter and believes that human existence is nothing more than a mistake in the evolutionary process. He, like Riggs, also can't or won't end his own life. Hart warns Cohle not to utter his philosophies in front of anyone in hopes of keeping harmony and deterring his self-proclaimed pessimist partner from shaking anyone else up.

The direction and cinematography turn Louisiana into a dark and eerie place and set the tone for a series that combines aspects of spiritual horror with a prime time detective drama. It pushes the envelope and various scenes in the premier do a great job at scaring the viewer. The Dora Lange crime scene features a body with a crown of antlers and other seemingly satanic images surrounding her.

The 2012 versions of Cohle and Hart are significantly different and both appear to no longer be with the force. A rift between the two in the early 2000s is also mentioned, but not fully explored.

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Not much about the case or the reason these two detectives no longer speak to one another is revealed in the pilot, but the first presentation leaves you wanting to know how the rest of the story plays out. The reasoning behind the 2012 questioning also leaves a lot up in the air and will make viewers wonder if this 1995 homicide was ever really solved. One of Cohle's last statements in the episode says it all as he tells the young detectives to "start asking the right questions."

This first installment of an eight part series accomplished the task of keeping the viewer interested in what's to come. It plays out more like a movie than a TV show and the performances alone could impress most.

 

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