Television: True Detective, "The Long Bright Dark"

First disclaimer: One of the actors in this show used to pull my hair and call me "Pigtail." I don't hold it against him, though.

Second disclaimer: My uncle lives in Erath, Louisiana, and he once tried to take us through a short cut in the cane fields. We promptly got lost. And then the car got stuck. It's one of those stories we tell each other whenever we all get together. (Family reunion in June! But that'll be back in New Orleans.)

All right, but how about the show? It's sort of a cross between Broadchurch and Twin Peaks and is really well executed on every front, by which I mean the casting is perfect, the writing and directing superb. It's a show that takes its time—this is not fast paced; it builds. But that suits the story, and in the meantime the characters themselves are interesting enough to carry things along.

True Detective features Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle respectively, two Louisiana State Police detectives who in 1995 find themselves caught up in what appears to be a ritualistic murder. The story is told through the filter of Hart and Cohle being separately interviewed about the case some years after. It's made clear they no longer work together; they split in 2002. Files to the case were lost in Hurricane Rita, hence the need for the interviews—because apparently a similar case has arisen in Lake Charles.

Hart is a family man with a wife and two daughters, coming across as very average (aside from, or perhaps partly due to, what appears to be an affair with a woman in the office). Cohle is more of a cypher in that he came to work in Louisiana after leaving Texas (and he grew up in Alaska, how interesting, since that's where my own mother hails from), so he is seen with some suspicion by the locals. I can tell you from life experience that this makes complete sense; we Sout' Louisanians are friendly but equally wary. Many of us never move more than a few miles from where we were born. And even if we do, we often come back. (I myself was raised in Texas, so I escaped some of the net that is Louisiana, but I'm rooted there firmly enough in spirit.) At the time of this murder in 1995, Hart and Cohle have only been working together three months and hardly know each other due to Cohle's reticence. But something about the case seems to break Cohle open, and he begins to talk . . . Only Hart is uncomfortable with the things Cohle has to say.

It's all so much subtlety, fine brush strokes and details laid over the broad and vivid canvas of Southern Louisiana. True Detective manages to be simultaneously charming and creepy, real and surreal. Viewers wanting something fast and furious will be disappointed, but those who enjoy character and craft can delight in this. I, for one, very much look forward to seeing more.

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