Entertainment TV Is True Detective 2014’s Breaking Bad?
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Is True Detective 2014’s Breaking Bad?

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If you’ve ever wondered what Matthew McConaughey watches on television, we have the answer: True Detective.

The Oscar-nominated actor, who is having a career renaissance after years in rom-com hell, is the star of the new HBO drama.

McCaughney’s emergence as a serious actor has startled Hollywood. As well as the HBO TV series, he was also nominated for an Academy Award for his critically acclaimed role in The Dallas Buyers Club. Couple that with his turn in Mud and a strong performance in The Wolf of Wall Street and what you have is one of the most exciting actors who has choice projects to work with.

 I was looking for quality, I read the first two episodes, I loved it and said I was in.

He told The New Daily that True Detective was the only show he was watching right now.

“I don’t watch much television. Not much time,” McConaughey laughs.

“I will say this. I am watching, I received all the episodes of True Detective … and I decided not to watch them all, to watch them like most people would watch them, each Sunday night. And so all I have seen is up to episode five like the rest of the people. And I love it.”

The show

If you haven’t heard about True Detective on Foxtel’s Showcase channel, get on it. This is the show that people could be obsessing over later in 2014.

Set in the deep southern US state of Louisiana and also starring Woody Harrelson, True Detective is garnering the kind of attention reserved for iconic shows such as The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Sopranos 

The eight-part series, written by Nic Pozzolatto (who previously wrote two episodes of The Killing) and directed by Jane Eyre’s Cary Fukunaga, True Detective follows police detectives Rustin Cohle (McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Harrelson) in 1995, when they are working on the gruesome death of a young woman, and in 2012, when the case is reopened.

What’s different about this drama is that the plot (the hunt for a serial killer) is not the focus. Pozzolatto and Fukunaga are more interested in exploring what happens to the two leads – this may also be because, unlike other TV shows, they are the only writers and directors working on this.

While Hart has a good dose of southern charm and comes apart one episode at a time, Cohle is an obsessive type who philosophises life in a way that made it important that McConaughey not overplay the role.

“The identity of the character was so clear on the page and the writing was so good,” McConaughey says.

“And a lot of stuff is going on under the surface with this guy Rustin Cohle, especially in 1995. 2012 is a different story, he’s sort of fallen prey to his own beliefs.

“But it was a real discipline in doing less, trying not to do too much, because the dialogue was so, not big, but so sort of on fire.”

Photo: HBO
Michelle Monahan and Woody Harrelson as husband and wife in True Detective. Photo: HBO

So why TV? 

“Today, there’s really no taboo to go and do television, some of the best dramas have been on television. It’s not much of a risk,” he says.

“I never saw it as any sort of de-motive move, I was looking for quality, I read the first two episodes, I loved it and said I was in. I really didn’t think about it being TV.”

Season two of the show will have another two stars and McConaghey will go back to his fall-back gig: movies.

Why aren’t you watching it yet already?

Acclaim for the show has reached fever pitch in the past few weeks, with critics universally loving every twist and turn of the plot and falling for McConaughey and Harrelson all over again. There is also an excellent supporting cast that includes Michelle Monaghan and Michael Potts.

Hype for the show stepped up another notch when the fourth episode screened and included a masterful six-minute tracking shot that went viral online.

TV critics have also been in chorus.

Slate.com’s TV expert Willa Paskin says: “Creepy, gorgeous, unsettling, and searching, it has—for lack of a better word—a literary quality, an accretion of meaningful detail. You can push on any aspect of the show—every line, every shot, every bruise—and it bears up. The show is substantial enough to overthink, In fact, overthinking it—noodling on its themes, ideas, images, lines—is one of its signal pleasures.”

Respected US TV critic Alan Sepinwall, from hitfix.com says: “True Detective” isn’t an ordinary project, and the brilliant results — I’ll have a review of it tomorrow, but it’s among the most gripping shows I’ve watched in years — speak for themselves. Like “American Horror Story,” it’s set up as a collection of anthology seasons, starting off with the tale of Louisana cops Rustin “Rust” Cohle and Marty Hart  investigating a serial killer case that winds up spanning 17 years, from 1995 until 2012.”

And The Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano says: “In my opinion, True Detective—the story of a pair of retired Louisiana cops and the sinister murder investigation that forever changed their lives—is not only one of the most riveting and provocative series I’ve seen in the last few years. It’s one of the most riveting and provocative series I’ve ever seen. Period. The acting is brilliant. The plot is addictive. The allusions are rich. The philosophy is mind-bending.”

Search for True Detective on Twitter and you will be blasted with positive digital vibes.

Need more convincing? Even US President Obama wants a piece of the action, asking for screeners to watch during the US long weekend for President’s Day.

Case closed.

True Detective is on Foxtel’s Showcase Channel Sunday at 8:30pm and Monday at 6:30pm. Check your Foxtel guide for more screening times.

With Michele Manelis

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