Non-Geek TV From The Geek Perspective: True Detective Season Two

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Starting in January 2014, HBO found themselves with a huge hit on their hands.  The success of True Detective was never really a big surprise given the star power brought to the lead roles by stars more accustomed to the big screen in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.  But I think everyone was impressed with just how successful the show was.  In it’s short eight episode run we learned to love and hate these characters, become intensely involved in the mysteries that unfolded and genuinely not be able to wait for the next episode.  (Given that and it’s low number of episodes it is a great binge show.)

When a second season was announced, excitement levels were high.  But could it live up to the hype?

What’s the premise?

If you figure it out, please let me know.  At least once per episode myself or Ms. Impossible will turn to the other and say “I have no idea what is going on.”  Unlike season one which had an intriguing mystery, this season has a convoluted mess.

If I have to take a stab at it: in California, when the body of Casper turns up after being brutally murdered, police from different walks of life join forces to solve his murder.  There’s the disgraced California Highway Patrol officer (Taylor Kitsch), the alcohol and drug fueled police detective (Colin Farrell) and the no nonsense Sheriff’s Office CID (Rachel McAdams).  Vince Vaughn also stars as a former mob boss attempting to go legit…which all goes up in smoke as the five million dollars he gave to Casper for a land development project has disappeared.

Casper_the_Friendly_Ghost
No wonder this season is so confusing, this guy has been dead since at least 1939.

What’s the appeal?

This probably goes against the spirit of these write ups when Tom does them, but I see no appeal to this show.  I would guess the only ones watching are fans of season one, and I would bet most of them have probably moved on as well.

The most appealing aspect of the show is that the season is only eight episodes long.  A very short run which had you craving more in season one, but has you thanking God this season.

There is a bit of a story shift after episode four which has given it a bit more momentum, and I probably shouldn’t judge it completely until all eight episodes have aired, but after watching six so far, I’m only sticking around for the sake of completeness.

Anything stand out?

The writing is the downfall of this season, but most everything else is fine.  The three police leads are all great.  The directing is good (the first two were done by Fast and Furious alum Justin Lin).  All the ingredients are here for a great show.

I think the biggest stand out here is the music.  The opening theme, Leonard Cohen’s “Nevermind”, is catchy and memorable.

Singer Lera Lynn’s music is also featured prominently as background in Vince Vaughn’s bar during the many discussions he has with Farrell.  In a nice touch, Lynn is actually onstage playing the songs and not just part of the post production soundtrack.

Any downsides?

It’s not season one.  As I mentioned above, the biggest issue is the writing.  The storyline is convoluted and overly confusing.  It does nothing to draw you in and everything to repeal you.

The other downside is Vince Vaughn.  I like him generally, but he is just not believable in the least as a former mobster that is getting himself back in the game.  Trying to muscle and intimate people to get his fortune back that he lost to Casper.  It doesn’t help his case that the performances of Farrell, Kitsch and McAdams are so strong.

In short, if you have a hankering for some True Detective go back and watch the Emmy award winning season one.

 

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