True Detective

Griffith

My posts are better.
Walter said:
I thought it was actually a weak spot that they were trying to emulate Season 1. It felt like the season's structure was mapped out in a board room ("include these bullet points and we're good to go! add a lawn guy in there too -- for our really sharp viewers!" :troll: ) And yet when I reflect on Season 1, I certainly am not thinking about the case. It's all character moments. So what I was looking for here wasn't necessarily a repeat, but a return to quality writing, quality characters that stuck with you after the show was over. Wayne and Roland each had their great moments, but that momentum seemed to die between scenes instead of being bigger than the show itself (like I felt with Marty and Cole). Any nostalgia over Season 1 is merely "Remember when it was good?" Because this wasn't that.
"Hey, remember that transcendent one off season of television where big charismatic movie stars perfectly wed themselves to sharp writing and beautiful directorial vision to create a hypnotic neo-noir crime classic? This wasn't that..." And therefore is a pile of shit? =)

I agree I would have preferred they truly recaptured the magic of season 1 somehow instead of spring-boarding off it, but they pretty much dropped that pretense after the first couple episodes and the departure of Saulnier behind the camera. I think that hurt some of the attempts at more... poetic visual moments the show went for later because it became more standard procedural fare in the interim. Stuff that had that dreamy quality and atmosphere early on became prosaic bickering in offices or cars later. My point isn't that this was great, but it was largely fine and good with some drag in the middle, and not some insult to the True Detective name because that name is basically 1 1/2 seasons of good TV, and this was the half, so if anything it helped stabilize the show after the truly embarrassing season 2 debacle. Maybe it helped that I was totally out on this season before it started and my wife basically made me watch it, so my expectations going in were below zero.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
I think the problem I have with that reasoning is that the show does not present itself as "standard procedural fare," which you're rating as its strength. It deflated on the expectations it created for itself. We get all dressed up for HBO Prom, and then our date takes us to Waffle House and bones us in the alley. Then has the audacity to ponder the malleability of time. It doesn't truly ever let go of those pretenses, either. You're giving a pass to moments like that schlocky circular shot of time-traveling Wayne and Roland headed to meet Mr. June. (It's all coming together!!! TIME IS A FLAT CIRCLE!) They're constantly reaching for something bigger in this show, and there's just nothing there to grab onto.

Also, I don't regard Season 1 as "transcendent." The esteem I hold it in equates to "hey that was a neat show."

if anything it helped stabilize the show after the truly embarrassing season 2 debacle
I think most people seem to like it, based on reviews I've read. It just did absolutely nothing for me.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Boy was I wrong for trying out bang out "a quick reply" above.

Walter said:
I think the problem I have with that reasoning is that the show does not present itself as "standard procedural fare," which you're rating as its strength. It deflated on the expectations it created for itself. We get all dressed up for HBO Prom, and then our date takes us to Waffle House and bones us in the alley. Then has the audacity to ponder the malleability of time.
Well, there we go, are we judging it by what it is, or by some vaguely lofty standard or expectation supposedly set by the first season? Speaking of prom night metaphors, how long are we as viewers supposed to pine for and chase that True Detective season 1 feeling like it was the show we lost our virginity to or something. As you say below, it wasn't like the be all, end all, but a really cool show, yet we talk about it like nothing can touch it while simultaneously giving it backhanded compliments.

Walter said:
It doesn't truly ever let go of those pretenses, either. You're giving a pass to moments like that schlocky circular shot of time-traveling Wayne and Roland headed to meet Mr. June. (It's all coming together!!! TIME IS A FLAT CIRCLE!) They're constantly reaching for something bigger in this show, and there's just nothing there to grab onto.
Is the problem the show isn't pretentious enough, or too pretentious, or doesn't live up to it's pretensions (a favorite complaint of mine)? I think the goofy time stuff is a fine trope for this season, particularly given Wayne's condition and what it's modestly saying about their lives ultimately. The revelation that this was more about them and their personal lives all along was a fair twist with that gimmick. I actually thought that made it a lot more humane and less pretentious than it let on, almost too sentimental even, which was a welcome thing since it clearly had given more attention to that than the meat of the crime.

Walter said:
Also, I don't regard Season 1 as "transcendent." The esteem I hold it in equates to "hey that was a neat show."
Then why are we even talking about it all these years later or care if Nic Pizzalotto is good writer or not? By that standard this was merely a "neat show" too (and much less investment than most neat shows; Better Call Saul is apparently like 4 seasons into being neat). Hell, junk food Bones was a "neat show." :ganishka:

BTW, we should be arguing about this while walking in the woods at night until we ironically trip over a gruesome crime scene and start screaming like babies. Our fandom would be thoroughly lampooned!


Give me a couple transcendent show examples; is first season of The Sopranos okay or could they have tried harder? :iva:

Walter said:
I think most people seem to like it, based on reviews I've read. It just did absolutely nothing for me.
I listened to some discussions of it later on that were mostly theory based (boy were they nonplussed by the finale) but I guess the only reviews I've read are here where it was regarded as pretty disappointing or the worst. I didn't get that because I was already disappointed with the idea going in, liked the early atmosphere, became less enamored as it dragged instead of taking off, didn't see the big crime/conspiracy payoff really being there, and so was ultimately happy with the left turn it took. It helped that because I didn't get all into the conspiracy theories I was following it by the more traditional story beats that it ultimately culminated with, "Hey, Wayne was an asshole that became less of an asshole, and he solved the case... that's nice." If I had been watching it with my literal and figurative detective hat on I probably would have felt more betrayed.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Griffith said:
As you say below, it wasn't like the be all, end all, but a really cool show, yet we talk about it like nothing can touch it while simultaneously giving it backhanded compliments.
It's not that nothing can touch it. It's that seasons 2-3 don't even come close. And given that this is all material from the same writer, I think it's fair and natural to compare the shows against each other in terms of their relative quality.

Is the problem the show isn't pretentious enough, or too pretentious, or doesn't live up to it's pretensions (a favorite complaint of mine)?
It's the latter. Its attempts to seem bigger than it is ring hollow.

I think the goofy time stuff is a fine trope for this season, particularly given Wayne's condition and what it's modestly saying about their lives ultimately. The revelation that this was more about them and their personal lives all along was a fair twist with that gimmick.
Well, it felt to me like they were packaging it as something more grandiose, but eventually settled on just Alzheimer's.

Then why are we even talking about it all these years later or care if Nic Pizzalotto is good writer or not? By that standard this was merely a "neat show" too (and much less investment than most neat shows; Better Call Saul is apparently like 4 seasons into being neat). Hell, junk food Bones was a "neat show." :ganishka:
Hey Bones is a neat show, too! But it's also not trying to be something it's not.

Give me a couple transcendent show examples; is first season of The Sopranos okay or could they have tried harder? :iva:
I am like the worst person to be asking this of. There are only about 2-3 shows that I truly love, and the rest just fill time. As for Sopranos, I would probably take it down a peg at this point in my life.
 

ahf248

Don't forget your poison arrows.
Griffith said:
Counterpoint: Is it really better to copy, redo and double down on everything about season 1, particularly the conversational sizzle or philosophical window dressing? I honestly think those are highly overrated parts of the show.
Not necessarily, all I expect from them is good and intelligent writing that gives credibility and an interesting factor to the characters to which it is assigned. Season 1 happened to achieve that through the exploration of philosophy and existentialism using its characters as live examples, but it's not a must or a go to in order to make good story and dialogue. Neither season 2 nor 3 managed to come close though, not because they were moderate on existentialism but because not as much thought went into them, that's all.

Griffith said:
Well, there we go, are we judging it by what it is, or by some vaguely lofty standard or expectation supposedly set by the first season? Speaking of prom night metaphors, how long are we as viewers supposed to pine for and chase that True Detective season 1 feeling like it was the show we lost our virginity to or something. As you say below, it wasn't like the be all, end all, but a really cool show, yet we talk about it like nothing can touch it while simultaneously giving it backhanded compliments.
Well, it's kind of difficult not to compare it to the first season since it has been advertised as "Season 3 of True Detective (you know, that show with McConaughey and Woody Harrelson that you all loved so much). Again, the producers want it to be associated with the series and made multiple attempts to link it to season 1, so it's not realistic to expect people to make a conscious effort and treat it as its own thing, because it doesn't want to be treated as such. I agree that not comparing standards would beneficiate this series a lot, and if you were to try and look at it as its own entity it's not a bad display, but that's not what anybody intended for it, so I must in part agree with Walter.

Griffith said:
Then why are we even talking about it all these years later or care if Nic Pizzalotto is good writer or not?
Again, tying into the same logic, season 1 started it all and so far nothing that is associated with it even by name alone managed to outperform it. It seems like everyone is worshiping season 1 and treating it as some kind of transcendent thing, but in reality it's just that whatever came after it was lackluster and couldn't successfully detach from it to do something different but better or do the same thing but better either.

Walter said:
But fundamentally, I found it incredibly boring. I mean, unless a noir where the characters hang out at a Texas beach hotel for half the book sounds like good material to you, in which case, dive in. Everything about it screamed "my first novel," so that bugged me. It's fine to be a rookie, I've never written a book myself, but I don't personally like being subjected to all of the writer's amateur decisions along the way. It was meandering. The main character was stock standard (He's actually like proto-Rust, and I like Rust! This guy is just more boring and without the actual trauma to justify the ascetic lifestyle. So he's like a half-finished claypot tough guy. The John Wayne movies? Come onnnnn. I see what you're doing, Nic.) He's almost arbitrarily painted on top of with character traits that gave the writer something to talk about. It just didn't strike me as something memorable. Certainly not something to greenlight a whole franchise. But that's why I don't work at HBO.
Those are fair criticisms. I guess what I'm trying to say is that for the kind of story he'd set out to write, which is so straight forward and filled with literary platitudes at this point it would've been extremely easy to fuck up, he played his cards right given his choice of genre and made quite an enjoyable read for a debutant. It's not hard to see the potential in all of that. It seems however that he's stuck in this thematic bubble recently which as it turns out might be his own downfall. I like his writing, even though all of it so far has been in the southern noir style. I'd be keen to see more and different stuff from him in the future, despite everything.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Walter said:
It's not that nothing can touch it. It's that seasons 2-3 don't even come close. And given that this is all material from the same writer, I think it's fair and natural to compare the shows against each other in terms of their relative quality.
Bleac said:
Well, it's kind of difficult not to compare it to the first season since it has been advertised as "Season 3 of True Detective (you know, that show with McConaughey and Woody Harrelson that you all loved so much).
I know WHY you'd compare two seasons of the same anthology, but in this case the first season was a singular, transcendent show with movie stars and, even more unheard of, the same visionary director doing the entire run. It was like an 8 hour film, and so popular it became like an event and a bonifide pop culture touchstone and phenomenon. My point is it was never going to be like that again even if they ran all the same cast and crew back for season 2, so it's unrealistic to me to use the very best they could have ever hoped to do as a baseline rather than the presumed pinnacle, and crazy to think they should top it (season 2 is what you get when you try). Speaking of, while we're comparing them, the previous season was a hot mess, so I wouldn't lump season 3's toned down effort in with that either.

Maybe I'm actually more cynical here because, no matter who the creator or auteur, I always assume they're going to fuck it up because doing great work is hard enough, and doing it consistently is unrealistic.

It's the latter. Its attempts to seem bigger than it is ring hollow.
I see this differently because I feel like it wasn't about those pretentions, but was more introverted and actually less hollow than all the true detectiving. Now, maybe it didn't live up to that either because Wayne was still a little inscrutable in the end (and not because he was so deep =).

Well, it felt to me like they were packaging it as something more grandiose, but eventually settled on just Alzheimer's.
It actually bugged me that they were somewhat vague about his condition because it struck me as a licence to do whatever without having to adhere to any rules.

Hey Bones is a neat show, too! But it's also not trying to be something it's not.
I can't forgive them for cheating us out of the season of them actually getting together.

I am like the worst person to be asking this of. There are only about 2-3 shows that I truly love, and the rest just fill time. As for Sopranos, I would probably take it down a peg at this point in my life.
For me it actually went up a peg upon rewatching. There was just too much series/pop culture baggage for viewers by the end, but upon review it was really good throughout and kicked sand on The Wire or Breaking Bad or whatever. Just check out season 1 again sometime, thematically it's like a novel.
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Griffith said:
it's unrealistic to me to use the very best they could have ever hoped to do as a baseline rather than the presumed pinnacle, and crazy to think they should top it (season 2 is what you get when you try).
...
Maybe I'm actually more cynical here because, no matter who the creator or auteur, I always assume they're going to fuck it up because doing great work is hard enough, and doing it consistently is unrealistic.
Yeah I think this must be where we differ. Because as great as Season 1 was, I never thought it was necessarily "the peak" to where the show could go. And even with the odds against it, I gave S3 a fair shake, even fairly late in the game, hoping it would come together. Nope.

It actually bugged me that they were somewhat vague about his condition because it struck me as a licence to do whatever without having to adhere to any rules.
Indeed. Because of that ambiguity at the doctor's, even right up to The Big Boss Conversation, I was expecting some kind of supernatural nonsense: "He sprayed me with toxic African gas and now my memories are fading away!" (Okay I did this to myself, didn't I?)

I can't forgive them for cheating us out of the season of them actually getting together.
Yep, that moment in Bones was one of the biggest cop-outs I've ever seen on television. It was pretty funny. That's where my wife stopped watching, and thus where I did too :ganishka:. What was it, ~6 seasons of teasing, and then when the moment finally presents itself, the writers were too limp-dicked to go all the way with it. It's a clear-cut example of a show failing to roll with substantial character relationship changes, because they'd upset the delicate syndicated balance. The absolute worst. The opposite of this syndrome is in large part what makes Breaking Bad and The Wire great. Shows willing to make sweeping changes to serve the story, not conserve set design costs.

For me it actually went up a peg upon rewatching. There was just too much series/pop culture baggage for viewers by the end, but upon review it was really good throughout and kicked sand on The Wire or Breaking Bad or whatever. Just check out season 1 again sometime, thematically it's like a novel.
I should give it another straight-through go around, because I watched much of the early seasons of that show as it was airing, still a teenager. And I'll tell you, "event television" was not really much of a thing back then for me. Particularly when your only access to HBO is your girlfriend's dad's house :badbone: As a result, I grew to love all the characters, but when they try to slide straight into actual drama I got lost really quickly. "Okay so Tony's the DiMeo crime family boss, right? And the Lupertazzi boss just phoned Tony to do ... what exactly? To who? What happened to pussy?"
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Walter said:
Yeah I think this must be where we differ. Because as great as Season 1 was, I never thought it was necessarily "the peak" to where the show could go.
Well, I think they could go deeper with those original characters and actually break the conspiracy plot, but even if they did and it was richer, deeper and more genuine I don't think there's any way it has the same viewing impact as the first go around. It's the same catch 22 with subsequent seasons that are either too much or not enough like the original, and both in the case of season 3. In any case we're apt to reject it.

Walter said:
And even with the odds against it, I gave S3 a fair shake, even fairly late in the game, hoping it would come together. Nope.
I got dragged into it, so fortunately I could be pleasantly surprised it wasn't like season 2 and at least resembled a story that could fit in next to the original (this actually seemed like a story that would be in a detective anthology). I think this would have been much better as the second season because it's good enough to be a decent smaller scale followup but not good enough to somehow save or redeem the whole damn thing, which unfortunately is what fell on its shoulders for a lot of people.

Walter said:
Indeed. Because of that ambiguity at the doctor's, even right up to The Big Boss Conversation, I was expecting some kind of supernatural nonsense: "He sprayed me with toxic African gas and now my memories are fading away!" (Okay I did this to myself, didn't I?)
:ganishka:

I just thought it was all a bunch of BS anyway, thus why I was never disappointed. Particularly when it all turns out to literally be BS! Good call, Pizzalotto, know your limits and lean into it.

Walter said:
Yep, that moment in Bones was one of the biggest cop-outs I've ever seen on television. It was pretty funny. That's where my wife stopped watching, and thus where I did too :ganishka:. What was it, ~6 seasons of teasing, and then when the moment finally presents itself, the writers were too limp-dicked to go all the way with it. It's a clear-cut example of a show failing to roll with substantial character relationship changes, because they'd upset the delicate syndicated balance. The absolute worst.
I'll never forget that breakfast scene, what a betrayal. You guys didn't miss much because it was of course a meandering, tensionless bore after that. I don't even get the reasoning behind that decision other than they copped out like you said.

Walter said:
I should give it another straight-through go around, because I watched much of the early seasons of that show as it was airing, still a teenager. And I'll tell you, "event television" was not really much of a thing back then for me. Particularly when your only access to HBO is your girlfriend's dad's house :badbone: As a result, I grew to love all the characters, but when they try to slide straight into actual drama I got lost really quickly. "Okay so Tony's the DiMeo crime family boss, right? And the Lupertazzi boss just phoned Tony to do ... what exactly? To who? What happened to pussy?"
It wasn't so different for me, I watched it as a youngster like it was just the mob hit of the week or something, not really getting the intricacies of what was going on and then by the end of the series it was just too much baggage with that, "UGH, all this talking! THAT'S the ending!?" So later I figured it was decent in its time but would probably feel a bit dated compared to the heavy hitters that came after, but no, I was shocked by how good it was; it made even my beloved Breaking Bad look thin and The Wire stiff.
 
Top Bottom