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Popcorn Preview: True Detective

02/02/2014 04:45 pm ET | Updated Apr 04, 2014

True Detective (2014)
Cast includes: Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), Woody Harrelson (Game Change), Michael Potts (The Wire), Troy Kittles (Get Rich or Die Tryin'), Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone), Kevin Dunn (Luck)
Creator/Writer: Nic Pizzolatto (The Killing and mystery novel, Galveston)
Score: T Bone Burnett (The Hunger Games, Inside Llewyn Davis)
Genre: Drama | Crime | Mystery

The opening graphics and score by T Bone Burnett set the mood of a mystical, satanic cult theme. May 1, 2012, Louisiana State Police CID... the interview is with Detective Martin Hart. "What do I think? Well, you don't pick your parents and you don't pick your partner." Detective Rust Cohle "just came out of Texas... raw boned, edgy... took 3 months to get him over to the house for dinner." When Cohle is interviewed, it's obvious from his scruffy appearance that he's no longer on the police force. "You wanna hear this or not?" says Cohle when they try to take away his cigarettes. OK... going back to January 3, 1995... Cohle remembers the date because it was his daughter's birthday. Cohle and Hart were responding to a request for assistance with a 4-1-9... the DB, a blond female, had been posed after death with antlers on her head. Among the clues were several primitive "sculptures" made of twigs. Cohle takes notes and draws pictures in that big ledger of his. From what he sees... "Decent odds she was a prost." Hart cautions him about jumping to conclusions. "This kind'a thing doesn't happen in a vacuum... I guarantee you this was not his first," says Cohle... "Fantasy reenactment... meta-psychotic." Cohle reads books on this kind of shit.

As far as Hart's concerned, "This is the most fucked up thing I ever caught." Major Quesada wonders whether Cohle is right for this investigation. He has a way of pissing people off with his strange, aloof ways. "He's smart... got a real burn for it," says Hart. But as lead detective, he's got to keep Cohle under control... "I want you to stop saying odd shit." Before long the newspapers are running headlines about an "Occult Murder," and the detectives are running down leads on anything with an occult, mystical or religious angle. In separate interviews, both Hart and Cohle wonder whether they're supposed to focus on the case details or the investigation. They want it all... "want to understand the process." The process starts getting messy right from the beginning. The Governor's office immediately decides it's an anti-Christian thing and wants to assign a task force. Anyway, by the end of episode 1, we know there's a new murder with similar hallmarks. "How could it be him if we already caught him in 95?"

Our sense is that True Detective will be as much about understanding what happened between Hart and Cohle as solving a murder. Because of the interviews, we know something about how things turn out. But that only makes it harder to work out, because what we know doesn't mesh with what we think we know. It's not a fast moving narrative, but it's thick with elements that are possibly going to mean something down the road... Cohle's sealed files from Texas, Hart's infidelity, Cohle's visions, politics, and there's something going on with little girls. Understanding it is going to be like filling in pieces of a complex mosaic. The 8-part series brings together major-league talent, starting with long-time buddies, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey... except that they're not buddies in True Detective. Cohle/McConaughey is distant and "odd." Hart/Harrelson is just an ordinary guy's guy who remembers "a time when men didn't air their bullshit to the world." Yet he has to give Cohle credit for understanding how to get a handle on this case. While others are eager to jump to conclusions, Cohle is "looking for narrative... witnesses, timeline.... This thing has scope."

4 popped kernels* (Scale: 0-4)
Two detectives who solved a high-profile murder in 1995 are interviewed because of a similar murder in 2012
*Based on early episodes

Popcorn Profile
Rated: Unofficially R (Language, Nudity, Violence, Sexual Content, Crime, Drugs)
Audience: Young Adults
Gender Style: Bold
Distribution: TV & Direct to Video
Mood: Sober
Tempo: In No Hurry
Visual Style: Computer Effects & Unvarnished Realism
Nutshell: Hunt for a ritual serial killer
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment

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