Recently finished the 8 episode run of the first season of True Detective. It really is more of a mini-series than a series. The production values and performances are Oscar caliber. I'd compare it to Generation Kill in its concentrated scope. We have a story to tell, it's bigger than can be contained in a 2 hour format, and we want to tell it well.
But it's a grim story. So grim. After three episodes, I was wavering on whether I was going to bother with the rest of the season. Episode 4 locked me in though. Probably the best action sequence I've seen on a television show. It was remarkable. So I carried on with the rest of the season and still have no regrets. A commendable production. A tad pretentious and, as I said, grim but a fascinating story about men and obsession. I can't say I liked any of the characters involved but their story was interesting enough to keep me along for the ride. And McConaughey's speech near the end had probably more impact on me than the episode 4 action sequence. Tremendous.
From the first episode, I couldn't help compare True Detective with NBC's Hannibal. The initial victims in both series had very suspicious similarities. But the goals of the two productions are worlds apart. True Detective is trying to say something. It has a message. And it can be a little too impressed with itself in how it's delivering that message. Hannibal isn't there to lecture you. It's there to entertain. It is violent and gory but presents it in an artistic vision that is unique on network television. It is disturbing and beautiful.
Anthony Hopkins was iconic as Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs but where he expressed menace in every word, Mads Mikkelsen does the superior representation of a refined psychopath. This TV show eclipses any of the cinematic interpretations and even the original novels by Thomas Harris. It is sad that NBC has this absolute gem in its line-up and has hidden it from audiences on Friday night. Ratings will kill this show because it is probably the most PVR'd and downloaded show on the networks and nobody watches it when NBC wants them to. At least I'll have two seasons to enjoy. I hope they have enough foresight to tie it into the preamble of the Red Dragon story.
So, there's great TV out there. Boundary pushing, genre defying, storytelling exists. It's just not available in significant quantities. Enjoy it where you can find it!