As a movie maven and serious television drama critic, I offer the following for my friends, some of whom claim–despite cable, satellite, Netflix, universal remotes, DVRs, newspapers, Google, and rabbit-ear antennas and tin foil–they don’t know when the following shows I recommend are on or which channel.
Caution: If you spend a lot of viewing time with bearded duck hunters, fat southern redneck families, junk dealers and pawn shop owners…. you may not be interested in the following.
True Detective — HBO — reruns of the eight episodes available here.
If you did not see this deeply dark psychological cop drama starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (True Detective is some of the best work either veterans actor has done) which ended last week, you missed the best show of the season which will sweep next year’s broadcasting awards.
“In 2012, Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart are brought in to revisit a homicide case they worked in 1995. As the inquiry unfolds in present day through separate interrogations, the two former detectives narrate the story of their investigation, reopening unhealed wounds, and drawing into question their supposed solving of a bizarre ritualistic murder in 1995. The timelines braid and converge in 2012 as each man is pulled back into a world they believed they’d left behind. In learning about each other and their killer, it becomes clear that darkness lives on both sides of the law.”
Written and created by Nic Pizzolatto whose credits also include another very good dark cop series ‘The Killing’, ‘True Detective’ gives near equal time to the relationship between the two detectives and their personal demons, and their search for a prolific, psychopathic serial killer.
Simply, there is nothing wrong with this best-of-the-best HBO offering… well-written, shot and edited, you find yourself on the edge of your seat, completely engaged as the fast-paced dialog, plots and sub-plots adds to the tension. The viewer must take on the role of the rookie, either keep up with these two dedicated (obsessed?) veteran cops or go back to a patrol unit.
Even the sound track music–selected by none other than T Bone Burnett, the Oscar-winning producer and musician– is amazing.
Judge for yourself… this is just the opening theme song: The Handsome Family’s “Far From Any Road”
The good news: The show was always intended as an anthology with a new story each season so more seasons of True Detective, but Oscar winner McConaughey has already said he will not return.
My guess is that the hit series will continue with the same theme but with different cops/investigators/P.I.s, locale, tortured souls anew and the study of those who do a job no one else wants to do…. at the risk of their lives for peanuts, bad coffee, worse hours, child support and a drinking problem.
House of Cards — Netflix: both seasons available for a streaming charge of $8 a month.
If you’re the least bit political and especially if you’re a student of the federal government and blood politics … you’ll consider this inside-the-beltway drama more truth than fiction.
‘Cards’ fits comfortably between “Advise and Consent” and “Seven Days in May”.
‘Cards’ confirms all your worst suspicions… and it’s even worst than that; welcome to the world of (now Vice-President) and former House Minority Whip, Southern Democrat Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey). Underwood and his wife played by the well-cast Robin Wright, has a plan but no ambivalence or constraints.
He is the most dangerous man in Washington D.C.
The entire first season and second seasons (13 episodes each) are now available via streaming; Netflix announced the show’s renewal for a third season.
Others to consider:
The Killing — AMC: all episodes (three seasons) available; fourth season on Netflix.
AMC canceled The Killing after the second season but it was picked for a third season. Now Netflix has renewed the show for a six-episode fourth and final season. Like House of Cards, it will air exclusively on Netflix.
One of the main actors in this dark crime series is the dark and dank, constantly raining environs of Seattle… faithful viewers eventually develop Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Starring Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos (two cops never looked so world-weary or in need of bed rest and therapy than these two talented actors) the rich, serialized storytelling in The Killing thrives on Netflix, and “it is only fitting to give Sarah Linden (Enos) and Stephen Holder (Kinnaman) a proper send off,” said Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix.
“We are looking forward to offering fans — both existing and new — a series that we know is perfectly suited for on-demand viewing.”
Southland — Available on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime
One of the all time best cops dramas of all time, Southland stands as one of the finest cop shows ever produced, as well as a series that captured the LAPD and Los Angeles as a backdrop, in all its rich diversity, as few programs (or for that matter, films) ever have.
Southland was a mix of gallows humor and drama that characterized “NYPD Blue,” which at the time was perceived as the last word on groundbreaking police dramas when it premiered 20 years ago. (Seriously, where did the time go?)
It originally aired on NBC for one season from April 9, 2009, to May 21, 2009, and then on TNT for four additional seasons through 2013.
Southland began airing on TNT on January 12, 2010. On April 26, 2010, TNT announced it had picked up Southland for a ten-episode third season to begin airing on January 4, 2011.
Southland was renewed for a ten-episode fourth season on March 22, 2011; it was cancelled in May, 2013.
Roger 10-42, Southland… thanks.
Gary, good post. Mike Brady has asked several times if I have watched True Detective. He says it has the best portrayal, by Matthew McConaughey, of someone with PTSD that he has ever seen. I saw episode 2 and was somewhat confused. He told me to start at #1 and it wouldn’t be hard to follow. Sounds like a good one. I will start watching all of it through Netflix. Thanks, Tim Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 21:16:49 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yeah, due to the numerous flashbacks (actually more of a parallel story line), you need the first epi.
And yes, the PTSD line is very good portrayal and present to a lesser extent in Harrelson’s character. Here’s an extra benefit… the south track, which you as a musician will find very interesting.
The opening theme song (“Far from any road”)is one of the most arresting songs I’ve ever heard–listen to it twice and you’ll have to play it over and over… and every episode begins with the song… it’s hard to believe it wasn’t written for this show.
The Handsome Family’s music it of a genre that has been described as “Southern Gothic”… with good reason.
From the dusty mesa,
Her looming shadow grows,
Hidden in the branches of the poison creosote.
She twines her spines up slowly,
Towards the boiling sun,
And when I touched her skin,
My fingers ran with blood.
In the hushing dusk, under a swollen silver moon,
I came walking with the wind to watch the cactus bloom.
A strange hunger haunted me, the looming shadows danced.
I fell down to the thorny brush and felt a trembling hand.
When the last light warms the rocks,
And the rattlesnakes unfold,
Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones.
And rise with me forever,
Across the silent sand,
And the stars will be your eyes,
And the wind will be my hands.