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‘Ten Years Is Nothing!!’ Herc Endorses The First Five Episodes of TRUE DETECTIVE Since 2015!!

I am – Hercules!!

“Yeah, of course I remember,” the 1990 version of Detective Wayne Hays (“Green Book” star Mahershala Ali) explains to fellow Arkansas State Police officers in the opening minutes of the 2019 “True Detective.” “Ten years is nothing.”

Years ago I had the hope/theory that season three would bring together characters from “True Detective’s” first two seasons – but we learned many months ago that the third season stars Ali, Stephen Dorff, Carmen Ejogo, Ray Fisher and Scoot McNairy as new characters in a new story about embattled Arkansas State Police officers.

Having seen 2018’s first five episodes, I declare season three is solid and compelling, and it’s better than the second season that reunited “Wedding Crashers” stars Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams in 2015. But so far season three is nowhere near as fun as the McConaughey-Harrelson season that launched the franchise.

Series mastermind Nic Pizzolatto, who continues the write virtually the entire series, makes his directorial debut on at least one episode this year.

For a number of reasons the third season is more similar to season one than the Californicated second. The new one is set in Arkansas, spitting distance of season one’s Louisiana setting.

The uneven and disappointing second season felt occasionally improbable, half-baked and rushed, as if HBO execs were hourly screaming “more pages!” into Pizzolatto’s smartphone.

With three years for Pizzolatto to mull, the third season feels more considered and less haphazard – but the new detectives are not as perversely entertaining as the substance-addicted nihilist Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and his differently troubled partner Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson).

Like the previous two seasons, the third indulges a lot of time-hopping, flipping from 1980 (the year a pair of pre-teens mysteriously disappear) to 1990 (when an incident reignites a very cold case) to 2015 -- when a hot young filmmaker (“11.22.63” vet Sarah Gadon) gets everybody thinking about the case again.

Canadian actor Michael Greyeyes (“Fear The Walking Dead”) is particularly affecting as a trash-collecting Vietnam vet clinging to sparse dignity following a life of seemingly endless travails.

The project could precipitate a big boost for Dorff’s career (even if his coif makes him look so much like Dennis Quaid I’m always subconsciously expecting him to launch into an Esurance pitch).

Rolling Stone says:

... The many echoes of that original story are at first reassuring, as if lessons were learned from the Farrell/Vaughn mess. But in time, Ali’s performance is the only thing disguising how rote this all feels, and how much the series keeps repeating itself, within seasons as well as across them. There are periodic moments that pulse with life--or, at least, that feel like clichés done right. And then there are others where it all feels like antihero-drama karaoke in an era when TV has mostly moved away from these overused tropes. …

Time says:

... a solid third season whose structure and style hew close to those of the first. …

The New York Times says:

... If you score “True Detective” Season 3 on originality, it fails — for repeating both its own history and the already-dated cable genre of glum loners confronting the evils men do. But if you treat it as a do-over — if the series, like one of its haunted antiheroes, is retracing its steps to try to get things right — then it’s fine. Often quite good. Far more consistent. …

The Los Angeles Times says:

... It's an ambitious and imperfect work, beautiful and corny, believable and less believable by turns. I recommend it, with advisories. … there isn't much in the way of humor; nothing like the weird comic edge of McConaughey and Harrelson's philosophical double act in Season 1. …

The Washington Post, which didn’t think much of the first season, says:

... My hunch is that if “True Detective” aired on USA, TNT or even HBO-owned Cinemax, the stakes wouldn’t be as high as they are, and half of us would have never heard of the show. Hope springs eternal for “True Detective,” but so does the letdown. …

The San Francisco Chronicle says:

... The third season of Nic Pizzolatto’s anthology series swings back like a pendulum, losing the absurdity of the second season for an approach that’s considerably more staid. (Read: No one this season is obsessed with pornography.) In the first five of eight episodes sent to critics, there’s very occasional onscreen violence, no gratuitous sex and far less menace. …

The Boston Herald says:

... The good news: This season is more season one “True Detective” than season two “True Detective,” with Ali giving a tour de force performance as the show toggles between three time periods. The bad news? The central mystery is more fitting for a CBS crime procedural, and over eight episodes is stretched to its limit. …

CNN says:

... If you subscribe to the opinion that the original True Detective was terrific and the second edition, well, wasn't, the third marks a bracing case of going back to the future. That's because this latest season largely mirrors the first, unspooling a mystery across three distinct time frames while receiving an enormous star-power boost courtesy of Mahershala Ali. …

TV Guide says:

... It's no longer trying to be a sensation. It's just trying to be a good show. …

The Hollywood Reporter says:

... True Detective arrives for a third installment seeming to have already established its peaks and valleys. As a vehicle for actors and mood, few shows are better, and with Ali front and center, the new season is easy to get interested in, despite a lackluster mystery that may make it a struggle to stay interested. …

Variety says:

... Tightly directed (in its first episodes by Jeremy Saulnier) and plotted, and with a performance at its center that steers away from calling attention to itself, the new “True Detective” transcends hype and amounts to 2019’s first pleasant small-screen surprise. …

9 p.m. Sunday. HBO.

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