True Detective Season 2-What Went Wrong?

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I don’t have H.B.O., so I had to wait 6 months for the Blu-Ray release of Season 2 to get a chance to watch this. In that 6 months I have seen reviews from critics and other looks at the series from novelists and fans. All of these reviews were negative, I did not read one thing about this second season that was positive. Some of these looks where things like how Ray Donovan was the better show on Sunday nights or how Fargo Season 2 got it right and True Detective got it wrong, etc. Needless to say, I had low expectations of this when I started watching it.

Season 1 of True Detective may have been the best first season of a television series in history, it maybe the best season of television ever. I really was amazed by Nic Pizzolatto story and the acting was second to none.  Here is my look at Season 1:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/23/re-watching-the-best-of-2014-true-detective-season-1/

Season 2 is a totally new cast, story and location, the only thing that is the same is Pizzolatto is in charge again and we are going to cover another story of crime. From this alone Pizzolatto was set up to fail. How could he ever match his masterpiece of season 1? How could he create a completely new world with no connection to season 1 and make it just as good?

I don’t believe Pizzolatto failed at all! Where Season 2 fails is only when it is compared to something else. Stop comparing this 8 hours to something else and just enjoy it for what it is.

For me Season 2 was a great modern take on California’s noir world, a homage to noir of the past. I think Pizzolatto took cues from past greats and put them in a big stew and threw them into modern Southern California. I seen hints of Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald and a lot of Ellroy in the story. I seen scenes that looked a lot like scenes from High Sierra, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Confidential, and others. The best thing I liked about this series is he took some of classic film noir tropes and characters and threw them into a modern setting and gave them an original spin.

Lets break down each of the four main characters:

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Colin Farrell is Detective Ray Velcoro

Ray is our classic hardboiled detective for this story. He takes a bit of the cop looking for revenge, and a pinch of dirty cop, add a man that has lost his way and his family. The twist here is we learn what set this good guy into a downward spiral of evil.

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Taylor Kitsch is Officer Paul Woodrugh

Woodrugh is a motorcycle cop who is part of a tabloid news story involving a famous actress. Woodrugh maybe the most classic film noir style character of the group. He is back from the war and that war has effected him. He is trying to fit into a society, he no longer recognizes. He is trying to hide his homosexual tendencies by making a nice family life everybody expects of him.

 

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Rachel McAdams is Detective Ani Bezzerides

Ani is the cop with the dirty mouth. The cop that uses the opposite sex and throws them away. The cop that is as hard as nails and you want by your side in a knife fight. In today’s world this is the cop that needs to go to sexual harassment meeting for their affairs with co-workers. Pizzolatto flips the scrip here and makes this cop a female.

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Vince Vaughn is Frank Semyon

Frank is a gangster who has worked his way up to the top and used his life savings to go legit with a land purchase. Frank is our classic gangster getting out, but never really does. He made it to the top by surrounding himself with loyal guys he trusts, and that may be his downfall.

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Kelly Reilly and Abigail Spencer play opposites. One will do anything to stay with her husband and the other will do anything to get as far away as possible from her ex-husband.

Pizzolatto uses a lot of classic film noir tropes in this basic 8 plus hour movie. We see the heist film, the gangster film, the hardboiled cop film, and the revenge film all rolled into one. There is a couple McGuffins, one in the form of some rare blue diamonds and another in the form of a hard drive with some compromising films on it. We have double crosses, corrupt politicians and police, a prostitution ring, a freaky psychologist(played by an almost unrecognizable Rick Springfield), a dark and dingy bar, a night club where it is easy to get whatever you want, a semi legit casino and it goes on and on.

Pizzolatto’s plot is not easy to follow and doesn’t take you on simple A to B trip. This series takes some thinking and may even need to be watched more then once to get everything out of it. Some didn’t like how all the questions are not answered, but I think it is more like the answers they got are not the ones they wanted. This may upset the average viewer, but is right up the noir fan’s alley. Not having a clue on how a show is going to end is half the fun of the ride. So what went wrong with Season 2? Personally I don’t think anything went wrong. I really enjoyed this season. I think what went wrong is when it is compared to the first…or a totally different show. No Season 2 is not as good as Season 1, but it is still very good. I look forward to a third season and hope Pizzolatto takes on some different film noir tropes, like a really interesting femme fatale, maybe a location in New York, Atlantic City and Philadelphia. How about taking on the subject of drug dealers and using the Canadian/American border as a focal point? Whatever you do, Mr. Pizzolatto, I look forward to watching it.

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Article in Rolling Stone Magazine: ‘Ray Donovan’: How to Get L.A. Noir Right

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A couple of weeks ago I shared an article from Vulture.com titled The Modern Noir Has Atrophied. Though it had some good points one of the main ones was how Season 2 of True Detective has disappointed.

Today Rolling Stone has come out with an article by Rob Sheffield about how great Season 3 of Ray Donovan is and how it has done modern noir right. Here is a link to the full article:

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/features/ray-donovan-how-to-get-l-a-noir-right-20150827

This is interesting because I have had a few discussions with noir fans talking about how bad season 2 of True Detective is and nobody is talking about Ray Donovan and how good it is. If you haven’t watched Ray Donovan I encourage you to do so. I agree with the above article, I almost stopped watching after Season 1 but fell in love with this show during Season 2 and Season 3 is amazing so far.

I have not seen Season 2 of True Detective yet and will hold judgement until I do, but I am not surprised that it has been a let down given Season 1 was so amazing! Here is a link to my review of Season 1:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/04/23/re-watching-the-best-of-2014-true-detective-season-1/

Here is a link to the Vulture article I mentioned before:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/08/11/article-the-modern-noir-has-atrophied/

Re-Watching the Best of 2014: True Detective Season 1

LjGKxgQP I started this site in January of this year, and there are a handful of great neo-noirs that came out last year I didn’t get to cover.  I know everybody has already seen these and probably wrote their own review.  I still wanted to re-watch these films and television series again and put my own review out there on the world-wide web.  Here is the first of those reviews. True Detective is an original series from noir author Nic Pizzolatto.  I have read Pizzolatto’s novel Galveston before watching this series and found it a very good book.  Something fans of the show may want to read. This anthology series stars Matthew McConaughey as Rust and Woody Harrelson as Marty.  I would classify both as hardboiled,  Rust being the more so of the two. k14lysr4msp2q5887mjy This story starts out with our duo getting interviewed by two detectives played by Michael Potts and Tory Kittles.  Both are being interviewed individually about a case that happened 17 years ago.  In typical noir fashion we get our story with a series of flashbacks.  We quickly see our detectives are worse for wear 17 years after the story started and through 8 episodes we find out why. Our case from 17 years ago is a murder where the body has been staged in a ritualistic way.  This case has no suspects or witnesses and very few clues to go on.  The clues also leads to some missing children cases that may be related to the murder.  Our story takes us to dive bars, whore houses, meth labs, stripper bars, burned down churches and lots of Louisiana backwoods locations. We have a bunch of great characters in this, some are small parts and some are much bigger.  Our lead female, is Marty’s wife played by Michelle Monaghan.  Marty, and Rust for that matter, keep her away from the darkness of the case.  I would consider her Rust’s femme fatale.  We also get two more interesting femme fatales, though they are not part of the murders they do trip up Marty in his private life.  Alexandra Daddario appears in the first half and Lili Simmons in the second half. The show plays more like an 8 hour movie then a television show.  You will want to watch the next episode as soon as you finish one.  The story is intricate, intriguing, and addictive.  The music is dark and fits the southern Gothic feel, T Bone Burnett did a great job with the score. We will be getting a season 2 of True Detective this summer.  It has a high standard to live up to and I hope it can.  The new cast looks outstanding and the trailer looks great.  We go from our country noir setting to one of the most famous of noir locales in Los Angeles.  Can Pizzolatto keep the dark, intensity with the city landscape, a new story, and a new cast?  I look forward to seeing it and if it’s as good as the first season we are in for a treat.