Could this be the end for HBO’s True Detective? It looks like it.

Casey Bloys hints at moving Nic Pizzolatto to other projects certainly seem to spell the end…


“Stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction – one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.”

Rust Cole. True Detective Season One.

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Late last year, following the less than acclaimed second series of Nic Pizzolatto’s morally ambiguous neo-noir crime drama True Detective, prospects for the HBO original nevertheless seemed largely optimistic, if a little hazy. Pizzolatto himself had (and in fact, has) been signed with the network until 2018, and purportedly offered a greater degree of creative control over the project in light of its critical reception. There were rumours of changes to the structure of the creative team, with confusion over whether the third series would be a solo effort or employ a larger staff, and with the release date being moved back, more time was going to be allowed for the project to really evolve to it’s full potential. Unfortunately, this now seems unlikely.
The news follows a re-structuring at HBO, with former head of programming Michael Lombardo stepping into a producers role and being replaced with former head of comedy Casey Bloys.

Lombardo himself had previously stated that he’d relish the opportunity to work with Pizzolatto again, and took the blame for much of the critical reception of TD season 2, having felt he’d pressured Nic into trying to create something with the gravitas of McConaughey and Harrelson’s bleak nihilistic thriller in less than half the time, which we now know didn’t work.
HBO sources now indicate that it seems doubtful that the show will air for a third season, instead moving Pizzolatto onto other projects within the network. A recent article on Bloys’ takeover featured in The Hollywood Reporter hinted as much when first leaked yesterday:

other decisions, including the fate of True Detective, now fall to him. (HBO sources suggest a new project from creator Nic Pizzolatto is more likely.)

As exciting as this news is, Pizzolatto being responsible for probably the most innovative television debut of the last five years, and a writer in a league really only currently shared by the likes of David Simon (The Wire, Show Me A Hero) and David Chase (The Sopranos), it’s hard not to feel a twang of regret at the (very probable) decision to axe the show for good.

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The first season was one of the most daring of recent memory featuring simultaneously an anti-natalist existential protagonist in Rust Cole (McConaughey), and a cutting depiction of the all too often real abuse in faith based schools and the unaccountability of those in power, twinned with the more conventional (but no less original) serial killer arc. It had scope, unforgiving levels of brutal realism, a plot so immersive that you didn’t want to blink for fear of missing an important piece of character progression, and some of the most beautifully bleak design of anything to have aired on television.

Season two, while aesthetically boasting plenty of stand out scenes, definitely lacked the cohesion of the first. What it did do was attempt to capture the claustrophobia and confusion of interlinking narratives in an urban environment, the sense that trying to disseminate real truth in crime is almost always futile, and that seeking justice when money is involved is even more so. In this much at least it held true to the theme of the first season, but where the first succeeded in portraying it with utter fluidity, the later seemed very much to lack direction, and it’s reach exceeded it’s grasp in a big way (although personally I didn’t think it deserved the universal panning it got by most critics).
This being said you always got the sense that True Detective wasn’t done, that it wasn’t going the way of (tears) Firefly and Deadwood, that it had the potential for real longevity within the golden age of TV. It is deeply sad news that the hasty decisions of otherwise well intentioned of execs have probably caused yet another untimely cancellation, the only upshot of it being that as it stands the show will, like the Sopranos and Deadwood before it, go down in history as one of the finest works of it’s time without depreciating the value of it’s own obituary, and just possibly there’s something in that.

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– Max Colbert

 

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