I know I've been very late to the party, but I'm glad that finally, I watched this masterpiece. True Detective season one is probably the best work done when it comes to investigative crime and easily the best eight hours of television. It's a rich-looking moody tale of morality, made impeccable not only by the impressive writing by Nic Pizzolatto but the wonderfully polished direction by Cary Joji Fukunaga, followed by the top-notch production design, exceptional cinematography with a non-linear narrative, and terrific acting. I know that's a little too much, but no words can describe the quality of this show.
Though this show is known for its refined storytelling, it's Mathew McConaughey's breathtaking portrayal of Rust Cohle that made this show something iconic. His pinnacle performance makes perfect use of Pizzolatto's dialogues turning a detective show into a poignant masterpiece. An actor and a man famous for his voice and script loading him up with ammo in the form of pages upon pages of dialogue designed to provoke thought and questions. His interview scenes are one of the best in the entire show. Just one man, a few beers, and a whole lot of words, and he'll have you hanging off every single one.
Woody Harrelson, on the other end also delivered his best as Marty. Presenting himself at the beginning as a run-of-the-mill cop and family man with a collection of bad choices, confused by Cohle’s actions at every turn to becoming the best friend to Rust and almost becoming a good man again is a wonderful growth. If anything, this show was always about the relationship between Cohle and Hart and the beauty of it is that it almost flips both of the characters on their heads, asking the audience if either of these characters could be likable? Or more importantly, are they good men?
The way the story unfolds, how the characters grow is what made the True detective season one a legendary show. But what really makes it work, above all else, is Cary Joji Fukunaga's incredible direction. His somber foreboding tone makes it an intoxicating mix of dark tranquility and growing unease.
So to sum it up it's melancholic and, somewhat, dense nature could well be a dialogue overload for some, but for any fan of the crime genre, or anyone wanting to be transported to a world of tension, deceit, brutality, viscerally great scenes, untouchable storytelling, and top of the line performances, this is a landmark show in the history of the medium. Oh and also, the opening title sequence, perfectly paired with "Far From Any Road" by the Americana duo The Handsome Family, is one of the greatest in TV history, in my opinion.
I still can't believe I tried watching this show five years back and slept through halfway thinking it was boring!