During this heady, small-screen “golden age” of ours, the “Mad Men”s and “Breaking Bad”s of the world have heightened audience expectations to such a degree that it has become a Herculean task for any freshman drama to set itself apart. Nevertheless, that’s precisely what HBO’s “True Detective” managed to accomplish when the series premiered in January of this year. Evocative and haunting, “True Detective” subverted the crime procedural archetype by unfurling a Southern-fried noir more interested in questions of masculine identity and existential angst than shoot-outs and whodunit twists (although it didn’t skimp on those either).
Anchored by the superstar duo of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey – both giving powerhouse performances in off-type roles – the show ushered in an auteur driven style of TV production. Every episode of “Detective” was directed by Sin Nombre helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga and written by novelist Nic Pizzolatto. The result was a singularity of vision theretofore unseen in an arena typically staffed by army-sized writers’ rooms and leased out to directors on a per episode basis. In television, risk does not always equal reward, but HBO got to have their cake and eat it too as “True Detective” went on to become both a critical darling and a commercial smash, which was ravenously consumed by a mob of fans eager to dissect every last visual cue in the hopes of discovering the identity of the series’ mysterious villain, “The Yellow King.”
Without delving into spoilers, it’s safe to say that the show’s season finale offered more questions than answers. Given that each season of the series is to start from scratch with an entirely new storyline a la “American Horror Story,” this ambiguous conclusion left some fans craving more. Now, those devotees have the chance to experience the thrill of the hunt all over again with the release of True Detective: Season One on DVD and Blu-Ray. Special features include a making-of documentary and a number of “Inside the Episode” featurettes, which give the creators a chance to share their thoughts regarding the character development and storyline of each installment. The disc also contains audio commentaries, as well as a deleted scenes that might shed light on the meaning behind some of the show’s more cryptic moments. Overall, “True Detective” was a smart and seminal show with a daunting amount of layers. Hopefully, this DVD release allows fans to peel back a few of them.