The True De­tec­tive in fab­u­lous re­turn

The Press - - TV Week -

The first sea­son set a new bench­mark for lim­ited-se­ries tele­vi­sion, the sec­ond was sim­ply bit­terly dis­ap­point­ing.

Thank­fully the third marks a re­turn to ab­sorb­ing, com­pelling form for True De­tec­tive (which next screens on Wed­nes­day at 10.30pm on SoHo and has new episodes de­but­ing at 3pm on Mon­days).

Creator Nic Piz­zo­latto this time has en­listed the ser­vices of Green Room’s Jeremy Saulnier to ex­plore the on­go­ing mys­tery sur­round­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of two tween sib­lings from a small Ozarks set­tle­ment on Novem­ber 7,

1980.

Wil­liam and Julie Pur­cell went out for a bike ride in the late af­ter­noon on the day Steve McQueen died and never came home.

It’s a case that has haunted Arkansas de­tec­tive Wayne Hays Moon­light’s Ma­her­shala Ali, pic­tured left – for decades and the show flits be­tween the orig­i­nal events, a 1990 de­po­si­tion he gave and an in­ter­view he’s agreed to for a

2015 doc­u­men­tary.

This frac­tured nar­ra­tive al­lows True De­tec­tive’s writ­ers to play with no­tions of faulty mem­ory, re­gret and re­flec­tion, while also dish­ing out slices of in­for­ma­tion about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in tan­ta­lis­ing small doses. Ini­tially Hays and his part­ner Roland West – Stephen Dorff, pic­tured right – are con­vinced that the Pur­cell sib­lings have been ab­ducted by their mother, given the strained re­la­tion­ship she has with their fa­ther.

‘‘When did you drop that the­ory?’’ one of Hays’ de­posers asks. ‘‘About two min­utes later,’’ he replies, re­veal­ing that she quickly showed up with her own set of ques­tions about her chil­dren’s where­abouts. And by the time the first of eight episodes has un­furled, the list of pos­si­ble sus­pects has be­come lengthy, one fate has been re­solved with an un­nerv­ing re­sult, and the other takes a be­lated bizarre twist.

Af­ter the com­pli­cated po­lit­i­cal ex­cesses of the Cal­i­for­nia-set sec­ond in­stal­ment, this rep­re­sents a re­fresh­ing back-to-ba­sics ap­proach. There are cer­tainly plenty of echoes back to the orig­i­nal run with its mul­ti­ple time-pe­ri­ods, trou­bled cops and hint of the oc­cult.

It also pro­vides a fan­tas­tic show­case for Ali (who is also light­ing up the big screen this sum­mer with his per­for­mance in Green Book) as it es­says a char­ac­ter at three po­ten­tially piv­otal mo­ments in his life.

Throw in an at­mo­spheric T Bone Bur­nett sound­track

(O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and a ter­rific sup­port­ing cast that also in­cludes Scoot McNairy (Argo) and Mamie Gum­mer (The Good Wife), and the end re­sult is the per­fect sum­mer thriller you’ve been wait­ing for.

– James Croot

There are cer­tainly plenty of echoes back to the orig­i­nal run.

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