Wednesday, June 25, 2014

True Detective Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) and Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) star as two detectives assigned to a grisly and cultish murder case in the Louisiana bayou country in the mid-1990s. At first glance, Hart and Cohle couldn't be more different. Hart, a native Louisianan, is an outgoing family man with two kids, whose marriage to wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) is buckling under the stress of the job. Cohle, a former undercover narcotics detective from Texas, embraces isolation, articulating a pessimistic, even bleak, world view. But they share an obsession with justice and a facility for violence that will inflict irreparable damage on both men.
Show (4 out of 5 stars)
Louisiana Detective Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) is partnered with Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) in 1995 as they work a vicious homicide case.   Hart is a seasoned detective and a family man (although not always faithful).  Cohle is a unique personality with fairly nihilistic views on everything which he shares randomly.  Cohle is very hard to read and connecting with him becomes a challenge for Hart.  The two men couldn't be more different and their personalities clash often, but they are a formidable team when they're on the job. As they investigate a series of homicides they discover horrible atrocities and connections other investigators overlooked. 

The show alternates the timelines as it shifts between their original 1995 investigation and the 2012 inquiry into their past case.  Their search for a serial killer back in 1995, which had been seemingly solved seventeen years prior, is re-examined again in 2012 and this time the police are investigating a new angle. A much older and more cynical Cohle is the focus of the investigation and although he and Hart are no longer partners, Hart tells his side of the story while trying to protect his former partner, possibly just out of principle. Watching these two actors play essentially two different roles each (their 1995 version and their older but not necessarily wiser 2012 versions), it's very impressive at just how much they evolved their characters. Both McConaughey and Harrelson deliver first rate performances in their dual roles and both are at the peak of their game. The supporting cast of Michelle Monaghan and Alexandra Daddario are also fantastic in their smaller but essential roles. 

Just as I started noticing how some shows like to be “the complete first season” and others have volumes or other ways of saying “season one”, "True Detective" is released and the cover makes no mention of a season.  That leads me to wonder if in fact a second season is coming and I wish I didn’t DVR everything and spent more time watching HBO commercials to find out.  I’d heard that this show was supposed to be an anthology kind of show and that the next season would have a new cast, but I don’t know if they will be connected. What I can tell you is that the show is well written, well-acted, and well worth your time.  I can’t tell you much else if I’m to avoid spoilers and generally ruin the show.  

This is one of those kind of shows where various people will view the show and each see something different. Some people will view this show as one that's focused on a supernatural kind of evil, and others will see it for the search for a seriously disturbed serial killer. Either way you see the show, there's no denying that the show is full of different philosophies which really caught people off guard as they're only used to the shallow entertainment that passes for television today. "True Detective" is a smartly written show that's overflowing with ideas and themes, but the heart of the show is the complicated relationship between Cohle and Hart and it’s something you should see play out for yourself.  The show is as much about them as it is the monsters they chase.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
True Detective is a precise and striking show with a near perfect 1080p presentation.  The show has an understated muted palette that gives the show an authentic and saturated feel. Using three Blu-ray discs for eight episodes allows for a crisp and clean presentation.  Skin tones are accurate and consistent and the show looks amazing in the brightest daylight and darkest tunnels.  Even dark, abandoned locations are rich with detail with spot on black levels.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
True Detective’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is also impressive.  Whether in a small interrogation room or a large and crowded revival tent, the dialogue is clear and intelligible and the peripheral sounds are balanced.  The sounds of the bugs made my skin itch and HBO has done everything right with this show.
Extras (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Had there been a commentary for all eight episodes and a blooper reel, this would have been a 5/5.  What they offer is well done and worth the extra time.

  • Audio Commentaries: Two audio commentaries are available for “Who Goes There” and “The Secret Fate of All Life.”  Although there are significant periods of silent, they cover a lot in these commentaries.
  • Making True Detective – A fifteen minute behind the scenes featurette separated into chapters that leaves the viewer wanting more.
  • Up Close with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson – The actors discuss their characters with a focus on specific scenes in this 8 minute feature. 
  • A Conversation with Nic Pizzolatto and T Bone Burnett – A fourteen minute feature with some of the same information from the commentary that is still worth taking a look.
  • Inside the Episodes –Cast and Crew discuss the details of each episode in short featurettes.
  • Deleted Scenes – Two lengthy deleted scenes that were properly left on the cutting room floor. 
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
"True Detective" as it aired, and the Blu-ray release should be equally well received.  The video and audio are as perfect as I’ve seen on Blu-ray and the supplemental features are interesting and not just a recap of what you’ve seen in the show. It’s amazing that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are the same men we saw together in Ed TV.  If the rumors are true and they will not be returning in future seasons, it’s a shame but I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this show.  This is a set that should definitely be purchased, and will not get boring after repeat viewings.  You’d like notice something new every time, and will see new details when you know how it (the season) ends.

Order your copy today!

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