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A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: A True Gumshoe Talks About 'True Detective'

The first episode ended with a killer Matthew McConaughey line.

The third concluded with a burst of perfect creepiness. The fourth hour came to a halt with one of the best scenes of the year — the equivalent of Michael Mann helming a live-action Grand Theft Auto sequence.

And the penultimate episode of Season 1 — which aired last week — ended with a man on a lawnmower. Trust me, it was great. (And trust me again, none of these were spoilers.)

What I’m really saying is, you should check out HBO’s True Detective. It’s worth the hype.

There have been plenty of fans scouring scenes for clues or feverishly trying to solve the show’s central mystery (murders!). For me, this show’s greatness comes from its detectives — McConaughey’s Rust Cohle and Woody Harrelson’s Marty Hart. These dudes deserve the buzz they’ve gotten. Their detectives are complex and captivating enough to hide the show’s faults. (Many have complained about the underdeveloped secondary characters, along with the subpar dialogue for the women of the show. These issues haven’t stood out, or bothered me, but I can see where the backlash comes from.)

The show’s premise (at least to begin with) also sets the mood for intrigue. Flipping between interrogation scenes from 2012 and the beginning of Marty and Rust’s police partnership in 1995 is not an easy narrative feat to pull off. Fortunately, I feel creator Nic Pizzolatto nailed this aspect (someone get this man some Kudos candy bars!).

As the always fantastic Charles Bielinski pointed out, these characters are one and done — the next season of True Detective will feature new gumshoes, along with a new case to crack. This raises the stakes. Anything can happen in the finale. And while I love shows with complex stories that stretch multiple seasons, this format has its benefits too. More than anything, this initial season of True Detective reminds me of a novel floating around in the wrong medium. (Except that long tracking shot at the end of episode four. That grandiose bit of cinema wouldn’t look nearly as impressive on your Kindle.)

And you know what? It’s a lot of fun to speculate on which stars will try to fill the sizable shoes of McConaughey and Harrelson. It also inspired the brilliant #TrueDetectiveSeason2 hashtag. Definitely one to check out. I love some of the inspired suggestions: Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint (Harry and Ron!), Kate and Rooney Mara, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (Sherlock and Watson!), Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, Big Bird and Snuffleupagus, etc. But the person I’d really like to see in Season 2? Will Smith. Sure he’s a huge movie star, but think about it — his career needs a bolt of change and critical acclaim. He’d get both from starring in what is essentially a mini-series. It wouldn’t be a long-term commitment either, like with other shows.

Dallas Buyer’s Club was in theaters before HBO aired an episode of True Detective, but still, the resurgence in McConaughey’s career would be a good reason for someone like Smith to consider following a similar path. And his return to TV would be a huge deal. From Fresh Prince to hard-boiled, trench coat wearing, chain smoking police detective. Put an Emmy on it!

I’m not really leaning in any direction for Smith’s co-star. Michael B. Jordan — an alum of both The Wire and Friday Night Lights — would be fun. I would love a bold and/or odd choice like Eminem (can he act? I don’t know, but 8 Mile is really solid). Or if we’re just nabbing former Cheers stars, what about Ted Danson? And maybe Pizzolatto’s answer to the criticism he’s taken for the woman of the show, would be to make True Detective’s sophomore season all about the lady crime-solvers (seriously, the Rooney sisters).

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There is still one more episode to go in the story of Rust and Marty, and I can’t wait to watch it.
A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: A True Gumshoe Talks About 'True Detective' Reviewed by Scott Pukos on 3/07/2014 Rating: 5

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