True Detective represents the highest type of long form television drama that is aspired to, but rarely achieved, by other dramatic serials. The acting by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the writing by author Nic Pizzolatto(The Killing), direction by Cary Fukunaga(Sin Nombre), and score by Academy Award winning musician T Bone Burnett("The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart) combine into a sublimely entrancing and dreamlike suspense horror mystery that constitutes modern noir at its finest.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Dutch, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 7 Hr. 38 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletDigipak
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/13/2014
True Detective is the deservedly acclaimed modern noir that premiered on HBO in 2014. Marty Hart(Woody Harrelson) is a police detective and family man in Louisiana. Hart's partner is Detective Rust Cohle(Matthew McConaughey), a loner with a mysterious past. Hart and Cohle could not be more different in personality and professional style. Hart pretends to live by a set of rules but really does not; in contrast, Cohle pretends to have no rules but really has his own moral code. Hart investigates cases by principles of logic, whereas Cohle goes by instinct. Perhaps the only thing that Hart and Cohle have in common is an overriding belief in the pursuit of justice.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
In 1995, Hart and Cohle are assigned to a murder case involving what appears to be a ritualistic cult murder. The basis of the murder and the tone of the series suggest supernatural forces at play. As the partners work together to find the killer (or killers), the storyline jumps backward and forward between 1995 and 2012, as the viewer gradually has the mosaic of the facts revealed gradually, just as it is revealed gradually to Hart and Cohle. The detectives' efforts to find truth will strain the relationship between them and jeopardize their careers, for better and worse. The detectives have a full yin/yang relationship of balance, such that when one becomes more pessimistic, the other leans further into optimism, and both characters take a full journey by the end of the season.
To say much more than that is to spoil the surprises that unravel for the viewer in True Detective. Many dramas try to trick the viewer with misdirection and still remain boringly predictable, but True Detective succeeds by rarely, if ever, going the predictable route. If you think you know what will happen next, you are more likely to be wrong than right, as the story usually goes in the unexpected direction even when you anticipate the unexpected turn. Harrelson and McConaughey have never been better as actors as they fully inhabit their roles. The excellent cast also includes Michelle Monaghan, Kevin Dunn, and Alexandra Daddario.
Every episode is written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga. Although a serialized drama does not requires such consistency of creators to create a consistent artistic tone, there is no question that Pizzolatto and Fukunaga have collaborated successfully in True Detective to create a high achievement in long form television. The cinematography makes the scenery of backwoods Louisiana appear terrifying in its beauty, with expanses of foliage and swamp contrasting with refineries belching their smoke into the air, conveying a dreamlike vision of purgatory. Fukunaga's long tracking shot during the undercover mission in episode 4 would make Orson Welles proud, and demands repeated viewing to appreciate the artistry of its staging. The music by T Bone Burnett is so essential in its contribution to the mood of the series that words cannot convey.
True Detective appears on Blu-ray in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in the AVC codec. Contrast is fine with solid blacks and excellent shadow detail without any apparent compression issues that were evident even in HD broadcast. Grain is minimal as expected with digital photography. Colors are vibrant without being garish to reflect the noir sensibility of the subject matter.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 delivers a rich aural experience to complement the excellent video presentation. It is so much easier to describe audio when one can seize upon some flaw, but a flawless presentation like this one is more difficult to summarize. The music by T Bone Burnett really enhances the mood of the series, and the score, whether in background or front stage in the title sequence, is rich and full with clarity. The score and sound effects never obscure the perceptibility of essential dialogue.
Audio Rating: 5/5
Special features are spread out among the 3 discs in this set, and include all of the following:
Special Features Rating: 4.5/5
Into The Episode: These short featurettes have episode-specific interview commentary by writer Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga.
Into The Episode 1(4:10): Pizzolatto and Fukunaga discuss the differences between Hart and Cohle with Hart's investigative technique grounded in logic and Hart's being more by instinct.
Into The Episode 2(4:04): Writer and director discuss revelations about characters in this episode.
Into The Episode 3(4:05): Pizzolatto and Fukunaga discuss Hart and Cohle's belief systems and how that impacts on their investigation and their relationship.
Deleted Scene(6:16): This deleted scene from Episode 3 includes more of Shea Whigham's preaching in the revival tent in his role as Joel Theriot.
Episode 4: Commentary by writer Nic Pizzolatto and composer T Bone Burnett.
Episode 5: Commentary by writer Nic Pizzolatto, composer T Bone Burnett, and executive producer Scott Stephens.
Into The Episode 4(4:45): Pizzolatto and Fukunaga discuss the issues of identity and the masks people wear in their comments on episode 4.
Into The Episode 5(4:27): Writer and director discuss the unreliable narrator and the dichotomy between what Cohle and Hart say in their interviews and what really went down during the arrest.
Into The Episode 6(4:52): Pizzolatto and Fukunaga discuss Hart and Cohle are haunted in their way.
Into The Episode 7(4:32): Pizzolatto and Fukunaga how Hart and Cohle become isolated.
Into The Episode 8(5:06): Writer and director discuss the dichotomy of form and void and how that impacts on the season and its conclusion in this episode.
Making True Detective(15:02): This featurette aired originally on HBO to promote the series before and during its run.
Deleted Scene(3:35): This scene is essentially an extended music video with the scenery of Louisiana accompanied by the score composed by T Bone Burnett. The series episodes had a number of these vignettes, and its placement on this disc implies that it was cut from Episode 7 or 8.
Up Close with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson(8:03): McConaughey and Harrelson display their natural screen chemistry in these interviews, which are broken down into the following chapter headings: "Dinner Scene", "Fight Scene", "Bar Scene", and "Fatigue". These chapters may be selected individually or with a "Play All" selection.
A Conversation With Nic Pizzolatto and T Bone Burnett(14:25): Writer and composer appear together in a discussion staged in the music studio.
Each episode also includes an episode preview for optional selection, and every episode, other than episode 1, has an optional selection for a recap of earlier episodes, which appeared during broadcast immediately before the episode.
Also included in this digipak is an insert with a code for streaming and download of the series for those consumers who purchased this physical media and still want to download it as well.
True Detective is long form television drama at its finest. This series will deservedly win Emmy Awards in various categories, and McConaughey is virtually guaranteed to have an Emmy Award join his Academy Award won earlier this year. The acting, writing, direction, and music are consistently of the highest quality and combine to deliver a miniseries that is even greater than the sum of its parts.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
The video and audio presentation of this series are flawless. The special features are extremely worthwhile given the depth and subtlety of the subject matter, and viewers who enjoyed the series are recommended to check out the special features which grant greater insight into the story. (Since spoilers abound in special features, it is recommended as always to view the entire series before checking out the special features.)
True Detective will return in 2015 for a second season with a different cast, setting, and storyline, written again by Nic Pizzolatto. It is inconceivable that the second season can top the first, but until then, True Detective (Season 1) on Blu-ray comes highly recommended.
Reviewed By: Timothy E
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