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“True Detective” is a show about death and horror and nihilism and godlessness and violence and substance abuse and madness – and it is most assuredly not a dramedy – but I’ll be danged if the Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey characters do not draw some huge well-earned laughs out of me.
HBO’s complex and engrossing “True Detective” stars movie stars who have made some great movies lately, but their new TV show may turn out the best thing either actor has done in years.
The scripts for “True Detective,” HBO’s new cop show, are crazy great. So great it’s easy to understand why McConaughey, Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan put their movie careers on hold long enough to star in all eight hours.
The premise will not sell you on this series:
A pair of retired Louisiana State Police detectives find themselves recounting to younger detectives their investigation of a macabre, 17-year-old murder case – a murder case that seems to have ties to more recent events (and may remind more than a few of the work of the Minnesota Shrike over on NBC’s “Hannibal”).
What does sell this series are the same things that sell “Justified”: characters and emphasis on character and the actors who embody these characters. (To be clear, this is not to say the “True Detective” characters are anything like the ones in Raylan Givens’ universe.)
As each episode peels away the detectives’ (usually troubling) layers, it’s shockingly easy for one to find these rule-breaking lawmen at once appalling and embraceable.
One of the many cool things about this new franchise is the way it contrasts – in a “56 Up” kind of way – the appearances and attitudes of the two former detectives and their 17-years-younger selves. The first few episodes do an effective job of setting up the mystery of what happened to these fellows between then and now.
All eight episodes were written by novelist Nic Pizzolatto, whose thin screenwriting resume otherwise includes only a couple season-one episodes of AMC’s “The Killing.” Nothing against “The Killing,” but his new show is operating in a whole other league of complexity and nuance.
The HBO drama (don’t diminish it by calling it a procedural) is both wildly entertaining and likely the most original cop show since “Twin Peaks.”
... This is a show about duality and hidden identities (the opening title sequence features an array of ordinary images laid over other much darker ones), and one that's ultimately much, much less interested in the serial killer than it is in the two men chasing him. And those men, as written by Pizzolatto and played by McConaughey and Harrelson, are riveting. …
... a frequently spellbinding affair … If its second incarnation gives actors and actresses of this caliber as much good material as McConaughey and Harrelson got here, this HBO series will remain, as it is now, essential viewing.
... Whatever you’ve heard about Matthew McConaughey’s astounding performance as Rust Cohle is true, and maybe even sells it short. … when True Detective is good, it’s breathtaking …
... the series reveals itself as a languid character study and a vehicle for long-winded exchanges about religion and responsibility that are writerly in the worst way. …
... a quietly terrific new series … McConaughey pitches his lines low, keeps them matter-of-fact, more so even than Harrelson's presumably laid-back Hart. The dance they do together here is work of a very high order, and all the reason you need to watch.
... Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson should star in everything, always — that’s how mesmerizing they are as Louisiana criminal investigators in HBO’s new anthology … the real drama surrounds this mismatched pair of cops battling their own demons.
The term Southern Gothic takes on a new level of meaning with the terrific first season of HBO's new anthology series, "True Detective," premiering Sunday. The murder mystery at the heart of the eight-episode story is dark and macabre, with suggestions of orgiastic satanism, while the performances by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are two of the greatest you'll see on television this or any year. …
... a beguiling and moody mess, a narcotic with nearly no addictive effects. …
... smart … resonates, thanks to grounded storytelling that revels in the details of its characters and their journeys …
... will linger with you long after the credits roll …
... Even though “True Detective” can feel very heavy at times, and as often as we’ve seen serial killer story lines, Harrelson and McConaughey were compelling enough that I powered through the first four episodes HBO sent for review. …
... hypnotic, unsettling and sensationally acted … These detectives are truly fascinating. …
... Rich and absorbing, this eight-part drama quickly vaults into elite company, offering a singular voice that’s unlike almost anything else on TV. …
... even though the new year is just beginning, there's a real certainty that True Detective will feature prominently in the year-end best-of lists we've all just set aside. Who will forget this out-of-the-box knockout in 11 months? Nobody paying attention, that's for sure. … puts an exclamation point on the topic of excessive quality. Who knew the bar would be set so high so early?
“Ray Donovan” comes to us from writer-producer Ann Biderman, who created “Southland” and wrote big-screen projects “Copycat” (1995), “Primal Fear” (1996), “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” (1997) and “Public Enemies” (2009). Showtime describes the premise:
“Set in the sprawling mecca of the rich and famous, RAY DONOVAN is the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. This powerful drama unfolds when his father, Mickey Donovan, played by Oscar® winner Jon Voight, is unexpectedly released from prison, setting off a chain of events that shakes the Donovan family to its core.”
Its supporting cast that includes Katerine Moening, Kristin Minter, Frank Whaley, Eddie Marsan, Paula Malcomson, Dash Mihok, Josh Pais, Brooke Smith, Denise Crosby and Elliott Gould.
The critics are all over the place:
... as a whole, "Ray Donovan" feels empty, like an attempt to reverse-engineer a new classic without actually having a story worth telling. …
... I wish I could say that "Ray Donovan" is just a garden-variety disappointment, but the new Showtime drama is more than just an average letdown. …
... after five episodes, Ray Donovan is still some good performances in search of a show. It feels made up of pieces of other antihero dramas–a little Sopranos here, a little Brotherhood there, even a little Entourage around the edges. Ray is so far too much a cipher to be an engaging focal character, and his flaws and failings are those of so many middle-aged cable ass-kickers in the past decade. Meanwhile, the culture-clash angle, between phony L.A. and real-as-a-brick South Boston, just makes both elements feel more caricatured. …
... the first few episodes of “Ray Donovan” are disappointing — grandiose, predictable and painfully slow. …
... once it finds its rhythm, it works very well — something like "The Sweet Smell of Success" crossed with "The Long Goodbye," in terms of "dirty town" pictures, but with more family feeling. A few caricatures stick out among the characters, but the subtler conceptions, on the page and in performance, win out. …
... You won't be able to stop watching. …
... Though I do not begrudge “Ray Donovan” its sense of momentum or tension, I was immediately struck by a desire to simply see more of Ray doing his job for a few episodes rather than seeing him deal with his brothers’ various problems. “Ray Donovan” offers us the same tantalizing Hollywood milieu of “Entourage,” minus the sunny bromanticism, a setting which is in and of itself a cliche. …
… Ray's work life offers the show's most entertaining moments ... The dreary, often predictable family story begins to suffocate the show as it gains ground over the first four episodes …
... this fantastic new Showtime drama is that wonder of TV wonders, a low concept series that can’t be easily reduced to a quick sentence. “Ray Donovan” is about many, many rich things … It’s the most vital new series of the year so far.
... the summer's best and boldest new show …
... in Ray and Mickey, producer Ann Biderman has created two of TV's most interesting characters and one of its most absorbing dynamics. …
... There is so much to love about Ray Donovan, but one of the best elements is that 62-year-old executive producer, creator and writer Ann Biderman (Southland, Public Enemies, Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Primal Fear) has absolutely obliterated the ridiculous industry standard that you have to be some young talented thing to make an impact. She’s created the most testosterone-fueled, rough and intelligent drama in ages, and it’s a credit to Showtime’s honcho David Nevins (and other executive producers Mark Gordon and Bryan Zuriff) that he bought into her vision and believed in her ability. …
... Buoyed by a riveting supporting performance from Jon Voight, it’s a dense, highly organic world — at its best, playing like a present-day “Chinatown.” More often, it’s eminently entertaining, if not initially quite worthy of a spot alongside TV’s velvet-roped A-list.…
Good luck trying to find a review of ABC’s “Resurrection” that makes no mention of The Sundance Channel’s “The Returned.”
An engrossing tale of non-zombies who return home years or decades after they die, looking very much the age at which they died, “Resurrection” was created by writer-producer Aaron Zelman (“Damages,” “The Killing”), adapting the 2013 Jason Mott novel “The Returned.”
Confusingly, Sundance in October began airing the 8-part French series “The Returned,” which was not based on the Mott novel “The Returned” but features a nearly identical premise.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Sundance’s “The Returned” and ABC’s “Resurrection” is where the dead wake. In “The Returned” the reanimated seem to pop up in the woods surrounding their hometown in rural France. In “Resurrection,” a Missouri 8-year-old inexplicably finds himself returned to life on the other side of the world, on a rice paddy in China.
Adding to the confusion is Mott’s book was published last August, while critics saw the pilot based on Mott’s book last May, before that book was published.
Adding even more confusion is an English-language remake of the French “Returned” is gearing up production at A&E.
Still not confusing enough for you? ABC scheduled “Resurrection” on Sundays at 9 p.m., opposite AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
In a season of disappointments, I was some 13 months ago relieved to discover how much I enjoyed the “Resurrection” pilot. Then I saw “The Returned” and liked it even more. But “The Returned” did not make me not like “Resurrection.”
... It is non-terrible, but when there is a vastly better take on the exact same idea …
... Some series improve with time, but these pilots aren’t very promising: For all their cinematic prowess, they lack the mystique that inspires a leap of faith. …
... Where "The Returned" was content to tell its story in elliptical scenes and character sketches, "Resurrection" keeps them tightly tied together and bound to an investigative uber-narrative — Marty and Maggie are partners in detection with the requisite possibility of romance. …
... gives it the old college try, but it is pretty much dead on arrival, and I don't mean "Walking DOA" either. …
... a solid yet initially disturbing new drama …
... It has a lot of heart and strong emotional moments that viewers will connect to, but it's also another mystery show that offers a big tease -- why are these dead people now alive? -- and the prospect of a long, drawn-out wait for an answer. …
... It’s not “The Returned,” and that’s good. It doesn’t try to be moody with brooding undead. “Resurrection” is a different take on a strong idea that has been American-ized and well-adapted from Mott’s book. It’s sometimes gripping, the acting is good, and for many it will seem fresh. Well, as fresh as the undead can possibly be. …
... When Resurrection focuses on Jacob and his family, the actors and the concept carry it. But hours must be filled, and the more the show expands to include other Arcadians, most of whom are tiresome, the weaker it becomes. …
... Can this Norman Rockwell-meets-Rod Serling approach to such tricky material pay off with a mainstream audience? I hope so, because variety should also be the spice of death. …
... what Resurrection has going for it is the fact that very few people, relatively speaking, have seen The Returned and thus won't make the unfavorable comparison. And without another reference point, there's reason to believe that Resurrection could find itself an audience lured into the concept that has so many good storytelling options to it. …
… If Resurrection fulfills even half its potential, it could easily become the most compelling drama on an ABC lineup that has become almost comically soapy. …
The Adventures of Batman: The Complete Series
Amazing Race 14.x
Amazing Race 15.x
Barbary Coast: The Complete Series
Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
Doctors Revisited: The Complete Series
Falling Skies 3.x
Falling Skies 3.x (Blu-ray)
Highway to Heaven 4.x
Kenan & Kel: Best Of 1.x/2.x
Louie 3.x (Blu-ray)
The New Adventures of Superman 2.x/3.x
New Tricks 10.x
Power Rangers Turbo Vol. 2
Pretty Little Liars 4.x
Teen Wolf 3.x Vol. 2
True Blood 6.x
True Blood 6.x (Blu-ray)
The Walking Dead 1.x-3.x (Blu-ray)
Workaholics 4.x (Blu-ray)
Awkward 3.x Vol. 2 NEW!!
Cleaners 1.x NEW!!
Drop Dead Diva 5.x NEW!!
My Little Margie Vol. 3 NEW!!
Power Rangers Megaforce Vol. 4
Red Shoe Diaries 1.x
Regular Show 3.x
Scott & Bailey 1.x
This Is America, Charlie Brown
Teen Wolf 3.x Vol. 2
Tosh.0 Vol. 4
Wilfred 3.x (Blu-ray)
Bewitched 3.x/4.x ($14.98)
Prisoners Of War 1.x
The Soul Man 1.x
Transformers: Roar Of The Dinobots
Black Dynamite 1.x
Black Dynamite 1.x (Blu-ray)
Diff'rent Strokes 1.x/2.x
Hell On Wheels 3.x
Hell On Wheels 3.x (Blu-ray)
How The West Was Won 2.x
Last Tango in Halifax 2.x
Orphan Black 2.x
Community 5.x NEW!!
Ja'ime Private School Girl
Mad About You 1.x/2.x
Naked City 1.x
Naked City 2.x
Naked City 3.x
Naked City 4.x
The Nanny 1.x ($9.98)
Ninjago 3.x Vol. 1
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation: Turtle Power!
Perry Mason Movie Collection Vol. 3
Power Rangers In Space Vol. 1
Top Gear 21.x
Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series
Once Upon A Time 3.x NEW!!
Parks and Recreation 6.x
Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Series
Grey's Anatomy 10.x NEW!!
Castle 6.x NEW!!
Scandal 3.x NEW!!
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