True Detective – Season 1

HBO's "True Detective" Season 1 / Director: Cary FukunagaHBO’s latest offering brough us Matthew Mconaughey and Woody Harrelson as two homicide detectives involved in a dark case. With the initial murder taking place back in 1995 the show flits between then and now. Mconaughey’s Rust Cohle and Harrelson’s Marty Hart are first time partners on the original case but in the modern day Rust has gone off the rails and is a chain-smoking alcoholic, and the pair haven spoken for years. Being interviewed separately about the case they believed to have been solved seventeen years ago but another body has been found. All eight episodes of the season are written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga giving the series an overall style and feel that many shows can’t manage as a collaborative medium.

It’s true that there are a lot of detective shows out there, in all different shapes and forms television has always been obsessed with murder investigations and dirty cops. So the question is why should True Detective be the one you watch? Well, where to begin. The most staggering thing about this series is the quality of the writing. It’s a very dialogue heavy show, which may not suit everyone, but this provides an excellent basis for character development and it doesn’t take long before you see these two A-List movie stars as their characters. Pizzolatto’s scripts are deliciously dark with very little in the way of happiness but he has a real knack for creating flawed protagonists that are still likeable if, at times, questionably immoral. As the tension of the investigation builds so does the action, which is handled ridiculously well by Fukunaga, you may have seen around that episode four (perhaps the greatest hour hour of television you will see for a long, long time) features a six-minute unbroken tracking shot during an undercover mission where, to put it bluntly, shit hits the fan making the show every bit as exciting and cool as any blockbuster movie you’ll go and see. And of course, none of this greatness could have been achieved without a cast to match and Mconaughey and Harrelson deliver some of the best performances of both their careers. Mcounaghey, of late, has become the most exciting actor around and his turn here is probably equal to that of his Oscar winning portrayal in Dallas Buyers Club. Harrelson is just as good, neither of the two ever steal the attention and instead manage to create this very real volatile relationship with each other.

Television is improving at such an astonishing rate that we will soon never be without top quality shows like this. True Detective shows us just how far TV drama has come in recent years and brings with it some of the best stuff you will see on your screens this year. let’s hope they don’t ruin it with a lacklustre second season because this is damn near perfection.

 

Advertisements

Sherlock – Series 3

uktv-sherlock-series-3-2

 

After the gripping end of series two this third series was a long time coming. One of my most anticipated series of recent times after being left in wake for over a year to find out how Sherlock managed to fake his own death. Series three progresses the crime fighting partnership of Holmes and Watson by focussing on Watson’s marriage which throws a bit of a curve ball into the duo’s relationship. Sticking to the shows unique three episode structure each lasting ninety minutes but could it live up to the previous series’ heights?

Series three is another strong, well-thought out collection of adventures that sees threat levels for the lives of the central pair reach new levels. Despite this rising threat, particularly on Watson’s life, the series never quite reaches the tension and excitement provided by series two. The first two episodes are perfectly watchable and well written adventures but it did feel as though they had lost a bit of the bite that previous episodes have had. The third episode is the stand out of the series providing us with a satisfyingly big plot twist and putting Watson in his biggest predicament yet and giving Freeman the chance to really steal the show from under Cumberbatch’s nose. Also pleasing is the teasing of things to come at the end of episode three hinting towards what will surely be an exciting fourth series.

While series three never quite gets as good as series two did the show may have set it’s own bar slightly too high. That said, this is another great collection of adventures that don’t flop in any way and point towards a new series that has the potential to reach the same brilliance it once found in series 2. If you haven’t got into this show yet don’t leave it any longer!

The Red Riding Trilogy

red-riding_625x352So during my recent Easter TV binge I finally got round to watching 2009 miniseries, The Red Riding Trilogy. It’s a three part series of films all based on murder cases in Yorkshire and the corrupt way in which the police department dealt with things. Each film is based in a different year starting with 1974 and continuing with 1980 and 1984. Each film features a different protagonist, plot and director but there a threads that run through all three of them. The cast is one of the most impressive ever assembled on British TV, with Andrew Garfield, Paddy Considine, David Morrissey and Sean Bean being just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s a very dark miniseries content on showing you a grimy side of history where corruption ruled the roost in the police force leading to these murder cases being kept going way longer than they should have. While it would be appear that this series should have everything going for it I must say overall I was disappointed. While stylistically the films are done incredibly well; they are superbly acted and the dense plotlines should be enough to make an outstanding TV drama I felt that the emotion never really got out there. The feel of the show ultimately just seemed too cold, making it very hard to get properly in to. The idea to have hour and a half long episodes, done so well on the more recent Sherlock, I think, hinders Red Riding making it over-long and somehow, strangely boring. Don’t get me wrong on some levels I enjoyed the show greatly, it had some fantastic moments but the overall sensation I got was not one of entertainment, more just of boredom.

My favourite of the three was the first one starring Andrew Garfield as a journalist who asks too many questions, I found this to be the most personal stroyline as we follow Garfield’s character as he digs deeper into a system that was rotten to the core. The second episode was my least favourite, despite me normally being a huge fan of Considine, while the plot was excellent I never felt much of a connection with any of the characters in the episode. By the third and final feature the coldness of the series is fully realised and for much of the episode I found myself caring very little, but the last twenty minutes or so give us the miniseries most entertaining moments of all making the episode so much better than it could have been. It’s overall a very interesting series but, unfortunately, one that did not fully meet my expectations.