With Breaking Bad and Dexter both on their way out for good, and True Blood nearly wrapped up as well, premium cable is going to be hurting for both outlandish crime potboilers and a dose of Southern Gothic ooze. By all indications, HBO will be filling the void with True Detective, a drama series starring Matthew McConaughey alongside Woody Harrelson—one cool thing about the “Golden Age of TV” is that every A-lister seems to want a show of their own.
Yes, it’s another of those unraveling-an-unspeakable-secret-in-a-rural-or-small-town stories, somewhat in the tradition of Top of the Lake
, as well as The Killing
, the Red Riding
trilogy, BBC’s The Edge of Darkness
, and Twin Peaks,
going back finally all the way to The Wicker Man
, whose cultish overtones are apparent in the creepy Blair Witch
-like folk art we see dangling from trees in this clip. But we ought not to let this clear lineage—nor the reality of McConaughey being out of his depth against an actor like Harrelson (only one of these guys would show up in a Coen brothers movie)—depreciate our love for gory, unsettling mysteries.
And there does seem to be a promising twist on this familiar material: the two leads are pursuing their Louisiana serial killer over the course of seventeen years—well, actually, think Zodiac—and the show will have the multiple timelines to flesh that out. In the preview, for example, we see what appears to be a flash-forward to a slightly drunk McConaughey telling other cops the whole sordid story. A promising framing device, we hope, and not some more Lost-style shenanigans. Either way, we’re in for a TV show’s TV show.