“True Detective” continues to bridge the gap between film and television

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With a bunch of casting news/rumors and plot points beginning to leak out about the second season of HBO’s acclaimed anthology series True Detective, I wanted to take another look at the talent surrounding the show. Basically, I’m thrilled to see that it’s really the one program out there that’s looking to be more like a movie than a TV show. Television has always been a very different medium than film, but True Detective is really working hard to bridge the gap, in a big way too. This next season, if it’s as good an as artful as the first, could really do it.

On the inaugural season, it almost came as a shock how cinematic the series was. Series creator and writer Nic Pizzolatto created a blueprint for something that could have been just another procedural, but the talent that came together really elevated it. Season One director Cary Fukunaga brought art house visuals to television, which I loved. A-list movie stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey brought heft and pizzazz to the small screen. It really was a perfect marriage. Last time out I wrote about how it would have fared as an Oscar contender if it somehow was just an eligible eight hour movie, but that speaks to its cinematic power. Eight episodes that strike you as one long flick.

For the second season, Pizzolatto and HBO are continuing to think big. Initially mega stars like Christian Bale and Jessica Chastain were sought out for leading roles, which would have been something incredible. Lately, it’s beginning to look like Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, and Vince Vaughn are going to be three of the main characters, with Elisabeth Moss also rumored for a part. Those are all pretty strong names, to say the least. With new rumors have supremely underrated filmmaker Andrew Dominik potentially coming aboard to be the director, that could really put it over the edge.

Above all else, what I like about True Detective is how much it strives to be a movie during this supposed Golden Age of Television. I’ll always be partial to the cinematic experience, even if the big screen is progressively losing ground to the small screen. True Detective is this great experiment happening right before our eyes, and I’m following it closely. In five years, I feel like we’re going to look back on to the first season or two of this show, one way or the other.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe I’m just projecting onto a simple bit of television, but I don’t think so. Of all the many shows out there now that are trying to be different than what we normally see on TV, True Detective is very much at the head of the class. Perhaps it won’t sustain itself over a second, third, or fourth season, etc, but there’s only one way to find out, right?

In the end, we won’t know if this True Detective trend will continue in the sophomore season or not, but I’m certainly hopeful that it will. If nothing else, it’s supremely good television. The thing is, it has the potential to be much more than that, so stay tuned!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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